As winter approaches we share the remedies which are safe for treating symptoms of coughs and colds in pregnancy.
It's that time of year again, the cold season's started and everyone and their dog seems to have gone down with something. If you manage to get through the winter without the sniffles you should consider yourself incredibly lucky (and healthy!) as your immune system isn't at full force while you're expecting, leaving you more open to infections such as coughs and colds.
Causes and symptoms
The 'common cold' is a viral infection spread by contact with an infected person and while it can make you feel pretty awful for a couple of weeks you can rest assured it won't do any long term harm to you or your baby. There are actually over 200 different cold viruses which is why it's possible to go down with one cold after another in quick succession and as you're slightly more susceptible to cold infections while you're pregnant it's important to take as good a care of yourself as possible to avoid this cycle.
Colds cause the lining of your nose and throat to become irritated and inflamed and this in turn produces typical cold symptoms including a blocked or runny nose, a sore throat, mild earache, sneezing and coughing, headaches, tiredness and a high temperature (between 98.6 and 101 deg F). They can last up to a fortnight but are usually at their worst during the first few days. However, if you experience a very high temperature (over 101 deg F), or severe, persistent symptoms you should take a visit to your doctor to make sure that your cold hasn't developed into a more serious infection.
Treating coughs and colds
It's best to avoid 'over the counter' cold treatments during pregnancy as many contain substances such as alcohol, decongestants and antihistamines that either aren't safe, or haven't been approved for use by expectant or breastfeeding mothers. This isn't as bad as it sounds as most cold medicines aren't actually able to clear the cold virus and instead just help to aleviate the symptoms - something that can be achieved with a range of alternative remedies.
Do you have any fail-safe cold remedies you could share with other AskBaby members or do you just need a bit of cheering up from the winter blues?
- The best thing you can do for your body (and your baby) when you catch a cold is to get plenty of rest. Your body can fight infections better when you're not rushing about so taking some time out to look after yourself and recover properly definately pays.
- Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables will not only help stave off any infections but will also help you to recover full fitness when you do catch a bug. If you don't feel much like eating try to consume five or six small meals throughout the day starting with plain food such as wholemeal toast; freshly squeezed juices and homemade soups are also packed with vitamins and make great nutrient rich snacks.
- It's more important than ever to stay hydrated when you catch a cold so aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water, sugar free squash or herbal tea a day; hot honey and lemon is also great for calming a sore throat.
- If a blocked nose is stopping you sleeping you could try using an extra pillow to raise your head or, if you find this uncomfortable, raising the top end of your mattress by putting a pillow underneath to create a gentler incline.
- To help aleviate congested sinuses you could try creating a mini-steamer by placing a few drops of tea tree, peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil in a bowl with very hot water, placing a towel over your head and spending a few minutes breathing in the refreshing steam. You could also try drapeing a warm flannel over your sinus area (adding a couple of drops of essential oil if you wish) to help relieve the feeling of pressure here
- If you have a sore throat gargling salt water can help. Disolve a teaspoon of salt in some warm water and swill this mixture around your mouth and throat for a few minutes taking care not to swallow!
- Avoid smoking or smoky environments as these irritate the respiritory tract further, exacerbating any cold symptoms
- It's safe to take paracetamol during pregnancy (making sure you follow instructions on the pack) and this can help to relieve cold symptoms however you should take care to avoid asprin, codeine, ibruprofein and other mixed pain killers. Most vapour rubs and cough sweets are fine to take but its always best to check with your pharmecist first.
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