Preventing and Treating the Common Cold During Pregnancy

Achoo… oh no! This sound, accompanied by a cough and a sniffle, may make pregnant women a bit nervous. After all, it’s cold and flu season – most people get the common cold in the winter and spring. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that adults get two to three colds per year. Pregnant women experience immune system changes while pregnant that make them more vulnerable to infections. Steps can be taken to prevent getting a cold. But if unavoidable, there are always treatment options.

Here are a few things to remember during cold season:

Cold prevention

There are a few preventative actions that expectant mothers can take to avoid getting sick. First, wash your hands often using soap and water for 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose with unwashed hands. This will help stop the spread of infection. Second, avoid close contact with sick friends and family members. Finally, make sure you’re maintaining a healthy dietexercising regularly and getting enough rest – things you should be doing to stay healthy throughout your pregnancy, but are especially important during cold and flu season.

Cold or flu?

A cold and the flu have similar symptoms, so it is often difficult to tell the difference between them. According to the CDC, flu symptoms are more intense and abrupt onset. Sneezing, stuffy nose and sore throat are symptoms of people with the common cold. Flu symptoms include fever, aches, chills, fatigue/weakness, chest discomfort and headache.

Pregnant women can become severely ill from the flu. If you are experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms and are unsure, we recommend contacting your doctor.

Cold treatment

Pregnancy can make dealing with an illness more complicated. Prior to pregnancy, most over the counter (OTC) drugs can be taken to treat cold symptoms. However, pregnant women need to make sure that any medication they take is safe for themselves and for the baby.

If you are fewer than 12 weeks pregnant, it is best to avoid taking all medications. We also recommend to avoid taking medications after 28 weeks. Some over OTC drugs are safe to take after 12 and before 28 weeks. Before taking any medication, speak with your doctor. Regardless of whether or not you choose to take medication, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and rest up.

For more information, please consult your provider about recommendations for you and your child.

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