Colds and flu in pregnancy – what can you do?

Because one’s immune system is suppressed during pregnancy you are more vulnerable to common viral infections, including cold and flu viruses. Many pregnant women also suffer from hay fever and sinus. Whichever way, it is highly likely that you will somewhere in your pregnancy encounter a sore throat, runny nose and a cough. And where usually you will have a wide array of medication and supplements to choose from, in pregnancy you can use pretty much nothing but Paracetamol, or so it may seem. Here’s what you can use if you have a cold or flu during your pregnancy.

But before we continue (you know what this is about!)…

Remember that COVID-19 is still very much with us. Contact your doctor first if you experience flu symptoms like a sore throat, coughing or fever. You can also contact COVID-19 public hotline on 0800 029 999. To prevent the spread of the virus it is important that individuals do not diagnose themselves as positive or negative based on their symptoms. For the safety of you and your baby, it is especially important to manage the condition correctly in pregnant women.

READ MORE: Mom, here’s what you need to know about pregnancy during COVID-19

However, once COVID-19 has been excluded, below some general tips for coping with colds and flu pregnancy.

  1. Get some rest

There is a reason why you get paid to work, right? You carry responsibility and people depend on you. If you are at home with other small children it is even worse, as you still carry responsibility and people still depend on you, except you do not get paid. Whichever way, chances are it’s not easy for you to take time off and stay in bed. But while you are pregnant, you need to realise that this is probably the best thing you can do and the fastest way to be back in action and useful to those around you again.

  1. Take care of your body

While you are taking some time off, be sure to drink enough fluids and to eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Your body will really benefit from some extra TLC at this time.

  1. Boost your immune system with Echinacea

Many of the common immune boosters are not recommended in pregnancy as there are no studies done to prove their safety. So even though they probably are safe, this is not a chance one can take.

One herbal supplement that is licensed as safe in pregnancy is echinacea. You can use a product like Echinaforce which contains proven and effective compounds called alkylamides, which reinforces the immune system, and reduces both the duration and the severity of symptoms.

  1. Homoeopathic remedies

Many women first start using homoeopathy when they fall pregnant or have a baby, as homoeopathic remedies are generally considered to be safe.

There are different tissue salt remedies that you can try. Ferrum Phos (number 4) is anti-inflammatory and can be used for a sore throat; Kali mur (number 5) is good for thick, white mucous; Nat mur (number 9) can be used for watery, runny mucous.

Natura’s has various homoeopathic remedies aimed at colds and flu, including Cataro drops for mucous, and Organo no 1 drops to boost immune function, and Tonsilla tablets for sore throats.

Pegasus Homeopathics also has various options that pregnant women can use.

  1. Ease congestion

You can nebulise with Saline to help loosen mucous in the airways. If you do not own a nebuliser yet this is a good time to invest in one as you will most definitely use it once baby is there. Alternatively, run hot water into a basin and inhale the steam (take care not to burn).

You can also use a Saline nasal spray or Euphorbium nasal spray from Heel. ACC can relieve nasal congestion, and Expigen syrup can loosen phlegm in your lungs.

Generally, Sinupret tablets are also considered safe to use for 4-5 days to help relieve severe congestion (after the first trimester of pregnancy).

  1. Treating pain and fever

The safest medication to use in this regard is Paracetamol. You should not use anything with Aspirin in pregnancy (so be careful of medication like Corenza C which contains aspirin), and Ibuprofen should also be avoided unless prescribed by your doctor for specific reasons.

ALSO READ: Managing expectations during pregnancy

When to see the doctor?

Because your immune system is suppressed you have the potential to get sicker in pregnancy than you would have gotten out of it. It would be good to check in with your doctor at the onset of your symptoms (which you would need to do anyway to exclude COVID019). After that, let the doctor know If you have a fever that keeps returning for longer than 2-3 days, if your temperature rises above 39°C, if you experience difficulty breathing, if you have a productive and painful cough, or if you generally start feeling worse instead of better.

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Christine Klynhans is a midwife and lactation consultant with a firm believe that gentle parenting can change the world. She has worked in midwifery since competing her B.Cur nursing degree in 2004, and has a special passion for education and for writing. She currently works in a well-baby clinic and give antenatal classes and breastfeeding support. She enjoys working with parents of babies and toddlers, aiming to help them find gentle solutions to their parenting problems and assisting them in incorporating healthy habits and natural health alternatives into their daily lives.