It’s that time of year again: time for coughing, sniffling and generally feeling crummy. But what treatments are safe for pregnant women?
We know you’ve all gotten your flu shots and taken your prenatal vitamins. But even the most cautious of mamas can still catch a bug. Your immune system is weaker than usual, which means you’ve got a greater chance of getting sick. Give your system a boost by eating foods rich in nutrients: you can find vitamin C in fruits and vegetables (such as citrus, mango, papaya, and spinach) and germ-fighting zinc in protein-rich foods (like turkey, beef, yogurt, and eggs). Certain spices also have antiviral properties, such as fresh garlic, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.
If you do get sick, talk to your doctor about which medicines are safe for you to use. Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) is generally safe for most women, but other common cold treatments, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, are not recommended. Some doctors consider decongestants safe after the first trimester, but recent studies say that may not be the case. Don’t risk it—stick to less invasive cures instead. Luckily, there are lots of other treatments that are much safer for you and your baby. Try some of these remedies:
• Use honey- or sugar-based lozenges to suppress coughs instead of the medicated varieties
• Drink plenty of caffeine-free liquids, like juice and tea
• Add a humidifier to your room to help reduce congestion
• Use a menthol-based rub to open your airways
• Gargle with salt water to help a sore throat
• Use non-medicated saline drops (salt water) in each nostril to combat congestion
• Take a warm bath or shower, and let the steam soothe sore muscles and loosen mucus in the head and chest
• Try nasal strips, which gently pull your nasal passageways open and can help you breathe easier
• Relieve sinus pressure by placing a hot, damp washcloth over the bridge of your nose
• Eat chicken soup—it’s one old wives’ tale that really does work
• Drink hot water with honey and lemon to soothe a scratchy throat
• And of course, make sure to get lots of sleep!
Pregnant women have a higher risk of developing serious complications from colds and the flu, such as pneumonia. Make sure to see your doctor if you notice any worsening symptoms, such as a fever or prolonged sickness.