It’s never great to come down with a nasty cold, but during pregnancy it can feel worse because there aren’t many medicines you can take. Here’s how to feel better
If it feels like you catch more colds now you’re pregnant, you’re right! “This is because during pregnancy, your immune system can be less effective at fighting off infections as your body works to feed and grow your baby,” says Tesco Pharmacy manager Esra Doganguzel. But the trouble is you can’t treat your colds in the same way because lots of medication isn’t safe in pregnancy.
Here are some safe options and alternative remedies to help you through – but remember you should always consult your doctor or pharmacist to find the treatment that’s right for you.
1. Pain relief
For aches or fevers, the only painkiller considered safe to use in pregnancy by the NHS is paracetamol. However it’s still recommended you take the smallest recommended dose for the shortest time possible. If you’re feeling really unwell, please speak to your doctor before taking painkillers when you’re pregnant.
And that’s it as far as medication is concerned – that means no Lemsip, no Sudafed and no Night Nurse. Sorry!
2. Steam inhalation
For a stuffy nose, try a steam inhalation with a few drops of eucalyptus oil, which helps moisturise and clear the nasal passages.
3. Saline nasal spray
Another option if you’re still feeling bunged up is a saline spray. “Stérimar nasal spray is good at clearing mucus from the nose and relieving congestion,” says Esra. “It’s made of salt water, so is gentle and perfectly safe.”
4. Simple cough syrups
Basic glycerine cough and sore throat medicines are usually safe to take – though you should consult your pharmacist and read the label to make sure they’re suitable. These sugary mixtures work by coating the throat to soothe irritation.
5. Hot honey drinks
Esra recommends a hot honey drink to help soothe the throat, as these can be just as effective as a glycerine syrup. Try combining honey with lemon, coconut oil or fresh ginger. “Manuka honey is particularly good to use as it helps boost the immune system,” she says.
6. A humidifer
You could also try investing in a humidifier if you have a tickly cough – just plug it in and it will add water vapour to the air, which helps to ease symptoms. For a DIY version, run a hot, steamy shower and leave the bathroom door open, place a bowl of water under the radiator, or hang wet towels near a heater.
7. Eat well and rest
The best way to get over a cold is simply to rest up, eat well and drink plenty of liquids, and let your immune system do what it does best. “Before bed, exercise if you can, and have lots of hot drinks,” says Esra. “This can help you get a better night’s sleep.”
And here’s how to avoid coming down with another cold!
You know what they say, prevention is better than a cure – so give your immune system a boost. “Try pregnancy vitamins that contain omega 3, like Pregnacare Max,” says Esra. “Omega 3 is a fatty acid that strengthens the immune system and can also help the development of your baby’s brain.”
The NHS also recommends that pregnant women have the flu jab to help protect you and your baby. It’s safe to get at any stage of pregnancy, and most Tesco Pharmacies offer this service for free on the NHS from September until March. Use the store locator to find your nearest Tesco Pharmacy.
You should always consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are unwell or considering taking medicines or herbal remedies during pregnancy.