What Can You Take for a Cold While Pregnant?

What can you take for a cold while pregnant?

You should consult with your doctor before taking cold and flu medications while pregnant.
You should consult with your doctor before taking cold and flu medications while pregnant.

Pregnancy is a unique period where extra care and caution are required to protect the fetus you are carrying. Catching a cold or flu during pregnancy can always be severe because it may last three times longer. Pregnant women are more susceptible to the complications of a cold, such as pneumonia. However, a cold doesn’t harm the fetus. There are many ways to avoid colds and have a healthy pregnancy. You may take over-the-counter (OTC) treatment after consulting with the physician because these are generally safe. OTC medications for colds and flus include

Always be cautious about using these medications during the first trimester because this is the most crucial phase of fetal development. Always check with your physician before taking any type of medication. Antibiotics are not required in most cases. They must always be taken after talking to your doctor.

Some of the natural remedies to treat a cold during pregnancy include

  • Getting plenty of bed rest
  • Drinking plenty of fluids such as water or juice
  • Putting an air humidifier in your room to provide extra moisture in case of congestion
  • Increasing the intake of vitamin C-rich foods, such as oranges, strawberries, kiwis, melon, mangoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, papaya, red cabbage and spinach
  • Having adequate zinc intake by consuming foods such as cooked oysters, beef, pork, turkey, eggs, yogurt and oatmeal
  • Drinking warm beverages such as chicken soup or ginger tea to provide a soothing effect
  • Elevating your head using a pillow while sleeping to combat breathing difficulties
  • Using OTC nasal strips to open your nasal passages
  • Drinking warm water with two to three teaspoons of honey mixed in to curb dry cough that may occur after having a cold
  • Taking prenatal vitamins and zinc may help increase your resistance to combat a cold or flu
  • Making sure to eat a healthy diet even when you don’t have much of an  appetite 
  • Gargling with warm salt water

How can you prevent catching a cold during pregnancy?

Colds cannot be prevented entirely. However, the following tips may help

  • Avoid close contact with people who have a cold.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds every few hours.
  • Use a clean towel to dry your hands.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your nose and eyes to prevent infection.
  • Sneeze or cough into your upper shirt sleeve.
  • Always wear a mask while stepping out, especially during COVID-19 times.
  • Use a hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol if hand washing is not available. 
  • Avoid going outdoors unless it is necessary.

What medications should you avoid for a cold during pregnancy?

Some medications, which are otherwise safe to treat a cold, may not be suitable to be taken during pregnancy. They include

  • Ibuprofen and aspirin are analgesics that may result in low birth weight and preterm delivery. These medicines should be avoided in the last trimester as well.
  • Some studies have stated that decongestants such as pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are associated with fetal birth defects, whereas other studies have refuted this claim. However, these should be avoided in the first trimester and their dose should also be limited.
  • Codeine-containing cough syrups and products containing alcohol are a strict no-no.
  • Never take echinacea or other herbal remedies during pregnancy without seeking approval from the physician.
  • Most antibiotics are not safe in pregnancy. In case you need them, take them only as directed by the doctor.

Always try to take medicines formulated for your specific symptoms and avoid multi-symptom formulas.

When to see a doctor

Consult your doctor immediately if you have

  • High fever of about 101°F
  • A cold that interferes with eating and sleeping
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cough with chest pain or wheezing
  • Throbbing sinuses
  • Symptoms that worsen after three to four days


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Medscape Medical Reference


Canadian Family Physician


American Lung Association