You expect to feel tired, achy, and a little moody when you’re pregnant, but you may not be expecting to catch a cold. Even if you had an immune system of steel before pregnancy, there’s a good chance that you’ll catch a cough or cold at least once before you welcome your new baby into the world.
Why are you more vulnerable to colds when you’re pregnant, and is there any safe way to get relief from coughs?
Table of Contents
- Why Are Pregnant Women More Vulnerable to Colds?
- Can Coughs and Colds Hurt My Baby?
- Signs and Symptoms of a Cold during Pregnancy
- 6 Ways to Treat a Cough during Pregnancy
Why Are Pregnant Women More Vulnerable to Colds?
Coughs and colds are more common in pregnant women because their immune systems are running at a much lower speed. While that may not seem like a good thing, it actually is. A suppressed immune system is what’s keeping your body from attacking your baby. Technically speaking, your baby is a foreigner to your body, and under normal circumstances, your immune system would go on the offensive to fight it off.
While your suppressed immune system is partly responsible for keeping your baby alive, it also has a downside: you’re more susceptible to colds, coughs, and sore throats.
Colds are typically caused by the rhinovirus, a certain type of virus. There are more than 200 different types of cold viruses.
Other Causes of Coughs During Pregnancy
While a cold is the most obvious cause of coughing during pregnancy, a dry cough may be the result of something else entirely.
- Pregnant women with allergies may cough because of irritants in the air, which can aggravate your airways.
- Bronchospasm can also lead to over-activity in the bronchioles muscles. This typically occurs when you have an allergic reaction to something, such as food or an insect bite.
- Asthma can cause dry, unproductive coughs.
In very rare and severe cases, coughing can be a sign of a pulmonary embolism. Coughing is usually accompanied by spitting up blood and chest pain in this case. A pulmonary embolism is caused by a blocked artery.
Can Coughs and Colds Hurt My Baby?
The good news is that colds are usually just an inconvenience to you, mom. When you cough, your belly will move up and down, which may give your baby a fun ride. But your little one will likely not be affected by your cough.
While your cough may not hurt your baby, it can make it uncomfortable or difficult to sleep. It’s difficult enough as is to get enough sleep when you’re pregnant, and coughing can exasperate the problem.
Aside from sleep issues, you may find that your cough makes it hard to prevent urine leakage. This is because there’s added pressure on your bladder when you cough.
Signs and Symptoms of a Cold during Pregnancy
If your cough is caused by a cold, you’ll likely experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Is it the Flu?
The flu is a much more serious condition that may require medical attention. But with the flu having many similar symptoms to a cold, how can you tell the difference between the two?
For starters, colds are milder than the flu – even the worst cases. If you don’t have a fever and your symptoms came on gradually, it’s probably just a cold. Your sore throat will go away in a day or two, leaving you with just a cough and runny/stuffy nose.
The flu, or influenza, is more severe and its symptoms usually come on suddenly. Flu symptoms may include:
- High fever (between 102F and 104F)
- Sore throat that worsens
- Aching muscles
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible to discuss your treatment options and to ensure that your baby is okay.
6 Ways to Treat a Cough during Pregnancy
Even though a cough is usually mild and harmless, you want relief – especially if you’re pregnant. With all of the aches, pains, fatigue and sleepless nights you’re already having, coughing will only make things worse.
The good news is there are many safe ways to treat a cough when you’re pregnant.
1. Yes, it’s (Generally) Safe to Take Cough Drops During Pregnancy
The simplest way to treat a cold or cough is with over the counter medicine, but many pregnant women are rightfully concerned about the safety of these medications.
Thankfully, doctors say that it’s perfectly safe to take cough drops or cold medicine during pregnancy. But just to be on the safe side, check with your doctor first to make sure it’s the right option for you and your pregnancy.
2. Take it Easy
Your body is working overtime growing your baby. Now it has to fight off a cold, too. You’re going to need all the rest you can get if you want to get over your cough as quickly as possible.
While rest isn’t a surefire way to fast-track your recovery, it certainly won’t do you any harm and will allow your body to use the energy it needs to heal.
3. Don’t Forget to Eat
Many moms find that between pregnancy and their cold, they don’t have much of an appetite. But it’s important to keep eating, and to eat healthy foods. You need to keep your energy levels up, and fuel your body with the vital nutrients it needs to recover.
4. Boost Your Vitamin C Intake
Foods rich in vitamin C will give your immune system a boost, helping you fight off a cold or cough. Citrus fruits, like oranges, grapefruits and tangerines, are great sources of vitamin C. Other food sources include strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, papaya, bell peppers, spinach, and mango.
5. Get Some More Zinc
Zinc is another immune-boosting nutrient, and it’s one that most diets are lacking in. Zinc-rich foods include pork, beef, eggs, yogurt, oatmeal, and wheat germ.
6. Stay Hydrated
All of that coughing and sneezing is causing you to lose more fluids than normal. Make sure that you stay hydrated. Warm beverages are a great way to rehydrate while also providing you with soothing relief.
Coughs are common during pregnancy and they’re usually nothing to worry about. But if you’re concerned about your symptoms or they become more severe, see your doctor right away.