Cold Medicine During Pregnancy: Safe and Unsafe

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Being ill and taking cold medicine during pregnancy is never ideal, but in some cases, you will catch a cold or the flu while carrying your child. Fortunately, there are plenty of options that are approved for use while pregnant.

Cold Medicine During Pregnancy

When you are pregnant, your body is in extreme amounts of stress and is changing very rapidly for nearly a year. This can tax your energetic reserves and your immune system as a whole, making it difficult to fend off various colds and infections. While it is critical to keep your strength up during pregnancy, being sick is not inherently dangerous to your unborn child. Taking appropriate cold medicine during pregnancy is an excellent way to minimize the duration of your illness, without causing any unwanted side effects from the medication.

Safe Cold Medicines during Pregnancy

The best medicines you can take during pregnancy include cough drops, Vicks VapoRub, acetaminophen (Tylenol), Sudafed, Claritin, and calcium carbonate, among others.

A pregnant woman wiping her nose in a napkin

Getting a cold during pregnancy is very common. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Cough Drops/Syrup

Ideal for soothing inflammation and suppressing coughing, without any known side effects.

Calcium Carbonate

Can soothe the stomach and prevent nausea and vomiting, particularly in the case of the flu.

Vicks VapoRub

When applied to the chest before bed, it can reduce congestion and soothe breathing issue by opening up the sinuses.

Acetaminophen

This is commonly used to soothe aches and pains associated with being ill or suffering from the flu, but it is safer than other common anti-inflammatory medications when you are pregnant.

Sudafed

This powerful medicine should be used with caution, but it is one of the most effective means of eliminating a cold quickly.

Claritin

Perfect for relieving allergy symptoms, it can also help to dry out the sinuses if you are experiencing a bad head cold while pregnant.

Cold Medicine during Pregnancy: To Avoid

There are also some medicines that you absolutely want to avoid during pregnancy, such as ibuprofen, aspirin and herbal medicines.

Ibuprofen

Use of this in your first trimester can increase your risk of a miscarriage and should, therefore, be avoided.

Aspirin

If you are already using aspirin, it is typically safe to continue, and some women use baby aspirin while pregnant, but regular use of this medicine without speaking to your doctor is not recommended.

Herbal Medicine

Although some herbal remedies can be highly effective, there are many unknown side effects and a dearth of research on the impact of many herbal treatments during pregnancy.

Home Remedies for Cold and Flu during Pregnancy

If you don’t want to use formal medication or pharmaceuticals while pregnant, there are also quite a few natural remedies that can help alleviate the cold or flu during pregnancy, such as hot showers, saline nasal drips, salt water gargle, and lemon and ginger tea, among others.

Hot Shower: Steaming yourself can help to loosen up phlegm and congestion, relieving inflammation and blockage in your respiratory system.

Saline Drips: Using a neti pot or other drainage system with saline water can quickly clear out your sinuses, flushing out the mucus where bacteria can thrive.

Gargle: Saltwater gargles with warm water can soothe inflammation and sore throats, while also eliminating some of the possible pathogens making you sick!

Tea: Herbal tea and green tea, as well as lemon and ginger tea, can all help to strengthen the immune system and get you healthy faster.

Fluids: Increasing fluid intake while ill and pregnant is essential, both for your body’s ability to defend itself and your body’s constant need to replenish fluids that are being lost or used for your growing baby!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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