Pregnancy and you blog

Cold or flu during pregnancy: Prevention, coping tips

By Julie A. Lamppa, C.N.M., R.N. December 13, 2016

Postnasal drip, a cough, sore throat and a red nose — you know how lousy it feels to be sick. Barreling through a day of work, household activities and child care while under the weather is difficult enough when you're not pregnant. Add frequent urination, nausea, low back and hip pain and trouble sleeping and you've got some miserable days ahead. Here’s help navigating cold and flu season during pregnancy.

To avoid getting sick:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Disinfect surfaces in your home, especially when someone in your family has a cold
  • Don’t share drinking glasses or utensils
  • Get the flu shot
  • Care for yourself by eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising

If you’re sick during pregnancy, to safely feel better:

  • Stay hydrated and loosen congestion by drinking water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey
  • Drink warm liquids, such as chicken soup, to help ease congestion
  • Gargle with saltwater to soothe a sore throat
  • Try over-the-counter saline nasal drops or sprays to relieve nasal congestion
  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) for fever and pain relief
  • Use a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture to your home and loosen congestion
  • Get plenty of sleep to help your immune system fight the infection

If you want to take an over-the counter cold medication, talk to your health care provider. He or she might recommend an oral antihistamine, such as chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton).

The flu (influenza) during pregnancy is another matter. If you start developing symptoms such as a fever over 100.4 F (38 C), a dry cough, achy muscles, chills and sweats, call your health care provider. Having the flu during pregnancy poses a serious threat to your health and your baby’s health. Taking an antiviral drug might help lessen symptoms if taken within 48 hours of the first signs or symptoms of the flu.

Remember, while most people bounce back from colds in a week to 10 days, it might take you longer to recover during pregnancy. In the meantime, hunker down as much as you can and focus on symptom relief.

Dec. 13, 2016