What Can I Take for a Cough While Pregnant? Coughs & Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed on 12/22/2022
Cough and cold medications that are considered safe during pregnancy include acetaminophen and many other over-the-counter drugs

The following cough and cold medications are considered safe during pregnancy:

  • Acetaminophen (paracetamol) can be safely taken twice a day for sore throat and headaches due to the common cold, cough, and flu.
  • Antihistamines can relieve the symptoms of a runny nose and an itchy throat in individuals with seasonal flu or allergies. Older antihistamines such as chlorpheniramine and cetirizine can be taken in prescribed doses by pregnant women. Newer antihistamines such as fexofenadine are not backed by enough studies; hence, it is better to avoid these.
  • Saline nasal irrigation or sprays can be instilled in the nostrils to relieve nose block and clear the dried secretions. It may be used three times a day.
  • 0.06% ipratropium bromide nasal spray is very effective as two 42 mcg sprays in each nostril three to four times a day to relieve nasal congestion and post-nasal drip. Xylometazoline nasal drops may provide relief, but they often cause severe rebound nasal congestion; hence, it is better to avoid them.
  • Guaifenesin syrup is a cough expectorant that acts by increasing moisture in the respiratory tubes and improving phlegm removal by natural processes. At the standard over-the-counter (OTC) doses, guaifenesin syrup is generally considered acceptable for use in pregnancy. You must always check the label and avoid Guaifenesin products containing alcohol or propylene glycol that may be harmful to the fetus.
  • Decongestants such as Pseudoephedrine can relieve the congestion in the sinuses and the throat by narrowing the swollen blood vessels in the nose, throat, and sinuses. Pseudoephedrine should be avoided in the first trimester of pregnancy because of an increased risk of birth defects. In the next two trimesters (after the first 13 weeks), it is probably the preferred oral agent among oral decongestants because it is less likely to increase blood pressure than the other oral decongestants.
  • Most cough drops and cough suppressants are safe to take during pregnancy.
  • Steroid nasal sprays containing budesonide, beclomethasone, and fluticasone are preferred among inhaled glucocorticoids to relieve the symptoms of sinusitis and allergies.
  • Antibiotics may be needed in special cases when you have yellow- or greenish-colored mucus, wheezing, constant fever, and body ache. Antibiotics must always be taken after consultation with your doctor and in doses specified. Your doctor is the person to guide you regarding the most effective antibiotic, given your history and the culprit organism. Many antibiotics are prohibited in pregnancy due to a high risk of birth defects, so always make sure your doctor is aware of your pregnancy.

How do I stop coughing at night?

If your cough is worse at night and you do not want to start taking OTC cough medicine right away, a few home remedies may work. These can be tried if your symptoms are not very severe:

  • Humidifiers in the house can soothe throat irritation and help with a dry cough at night.
  • Drinking hot tea with honey and sipping warm water with a pinch of turmeric may help relieve cough in many women.
  • Avoiding smoking including second-hand smoke can also help.
  • Getting enough rest can help your body recover faster.

How can I prevent getting a cough or cold during pregnancy?

Building a healthy immune system is the first step to preventing any infection during pregnancy. You can adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle with the following tips:

  • Eat clean, well-cooked food.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Keep your weight within the limits advised to you.
  • Engage in regular light exercises such as walking or stretching.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Take your pregnancy vitamins as prescribed.
  • Wash your hands regularly with clean water and soap.
  • Avoid contact with anyone who is suffering from flu, cold, or cough.
  • Avoid touching your face without washing your hands.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have a history of asthma or other conditions that could worsen a cough.


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Medically Reviewed on 12/22/2022