Winter is here, and the common cold has already made an appearance. Most people reach out for over-the-counter medications to treat a cold or flu. But if you are pregnant, you might worry about the effect of the medicines on your unborn child. After consulting your healthcare provider, you can opt for simple home remedies for a cold during pregnancy.
Cold or flu during pregnancy can potentially affect the baby, says Dr Chanchal Sharma, an obstetrician and a gynecologist. High fever in the first trimester may increase the risk of certain birth defects. Also, respiratory infections can lead to complications, so it’s crucial to seek medical advice promptly if you experience severe symptoms.
It’s crucial to consult a doctor before taking any medications during pregnancy, especially during the first few weeks. Some cold medications may contain ingredients that could pose risks to the developing fetus, says the expert. Plain cough syrup and nasal strips are considered to be safe for pregnant women, but medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen should not be taken to avoid complications. Women should follow their doctor’s advice on when it’s safe to take medications during pregnancy. Generally, doctors may recommend waiting until after the first trimester, which is a critical period in fetal development.
Most doctors may suggest non-pharmacological remedies and lifestyle adjustments initially. Here’s what you can do:
Drink plenty of fluids, including water and fresh juices, to stay hydrated and soothe a sore throat.
Inhale steam to alleviate congestion. All you have to do is shut your eyes as you bring your head closer to a container of hot water. Maintain some distance and don’t make direct contact with the water. Inhale deeply and slowly for at least two minutes.
You might have a lot of things to do at home or office, but don’t forget to rest. Adequate rest is needed for the body to recover, says Dr Sharma.
When you catch a cold, your throat hurts. Relieve the throat irritation with a saltwater gargle at least three times a day.
Honey and lemon are full of nutrients, so mixing them in warm water can work as a natural cough remedy.
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The way you sleep makes a lot of difference when you are fighting a cold. Use pillows to elevate your head which will promote easier breathing.
Some like to have turmeric milk to treat a cold, but drinking it during pregnancy may do more harm than good. It may alter the hormone estrogen, and cause bleeding.
You should make efforts to avoid catching a cold or flu while you are pregnant. Here’s what you can do:
• Regularly wash your hands to prevent the spread of viruses.
• Minimise coming in contact with people who have cold symptoms.
• Maintain a nutritious diet to support your immune system.
• Ensure sufficient rest to strengthen your body’s defenses.
• Engage in moderate exercise to boost overall health.
• Drink enough fluids to support your immune system.
Also, adequate prenatal care, vaccination against preventable illnesses, and a healthy lifestyle help to minimise the risks associated with colds during pregnancy. But don’t forget to consult with a doctor for personalised guidance based on your specific health conditions.