What Can a Pregnant Woman Take for a Cold?

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Few things are quite as miserable as having a cold. Your nose runs constantly, it’s hard to sleep, and you don’t feel like doing much other than sitting on the couch or lying under the covers.

But it’s even worse when you’re pregnant, because you feel as though even OTC medications are off limits. But what can a pregnant woman take for a cold? Here’s a look at recommendations from doctors and other experts who are in the know.

It’s important to keep in mind one thing: Cold medication only treats symptoms. There’s nothing that speeds up your recovery process, and nothing that helps “heal” you from your illness. So, before you push the limits on cold medication, remember that you’re only masking symptoms for a short period of time.


What You CANNOT Take for a Cold While Pregnant

Let’s start with warnings on what not to take while pregnant. You absolutely want to avoid at all costs aspirin, ibuprofen and any herbal remedies.

Why are these things off limits? It’s always a good idea to understand the reasoning. So here you go:

  • Aspirin: Aspirin is associated with the risk of miscarriage at conception and during early pregnancy. Also, aspirin can stunt a baby’s growth during pregnancy, and it can also increase the odds that you experience a placental abruption — which is a term that describes when the placenta pulls away from the uterine lining.
  • Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen is what you find in medications like Motrin and Advil, and it can also be associated with miscarriage in the first trimester. Additionally, ibuprofen can prevent a baby’s heart from developing appropriately during pregnancy.
  • Herbal Remedies: The problem with herbal medications is that they are relatively unregulated when compared to other-the-counter meds. Because they can reach your baby, it’s best to avoid them altogether.


What You CAN Take for a Cold While Pregnant

First, it’s important to know that most doctors recommend avoiding all medications during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy. This is a pivotal time for the young life growing inside you, so make sure you don’t do anything during those first few months (more on this in a moment).

But, once you clear those first 12 weeks, there are plenty of OTC options for treating cold symptoms. You can take the following:

  • Acetaminophen: This is the pain reliever found in Tylenol.
  • Dextromethorphan: This is a cough suppressant found in many cough syrups.
  • Diphenhydramine: This is the nasal decongestant found in Benadryl.
  • Loratadine: This is the antihistamine that treats allergy-related symptoms like watery eyes, runny noses and general itchiness.
  • Pseudoephedrine: Another nasal decongestant, you’ll find pseudoephedrine in medications like Sudafed.

Avoid any medications that blend different ingredients to treat different symptoms — like Nyquil, for example. Also, you can take Claritin (which includes Loratadine), but stay away from the more advanced versions of allergy meds like Claritin-D.


Natural Cold Remedies for Pregnant Women

Remember that you’re only treating symptoms when you use any of the drugs listed above. There are also plenty of natural, non-herbal ways to treat the symptoms of a cold. Consider trying the following to get relief:

  • Saline Spray: You may be amazed at how much a saline spray can help relieve nasal congestion and the discomfort that it brings.
  • Hot Showers: A hot shower can help open up those sinuses and clear out the congestion.
  • Lots of Fluids: You’ve probably heard to drink lots of fluids when you have a cold. But why? Because fluids help thin out mucus and other bodily secretions, which help them clear more quickly. In short, the more fluids you drink, the faster your cold may dissipate.
  • Chicken Soup: Chicken soup is chockfull of nutrients, and it also helps clear nasal congestion while also acting as an anti-inflammatory that eases your other symptoms.
  • Lots of Rest: When your body is at rest, it’s able to heal more quickly. So, when you have a cold, don’t try to do too much — especially when pregnant.

You already know this, but: Prevention is the best natural safeguard against a cold while pregnant. Make sure you wash your hands constantly, avoid those who have been sick, and generally take care of yourself when expecting a child.

Final Thoughts on What a Pregnant Woman Can Take for a Cold

This post is designed to give you helpful information for when you’re expecting a child. But there’s no substitute for the expert advice of your doctor. If you have any questions about what’s safe and what isn’t for how far along you are, your OB is just a phone call away.

What has your doctor recommended you take for a cold while pregnant? Let us know in the comments below, or send us a message using our contact page.


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