What Can I Take for a Cold During Pregnancy?

Medications You Can Take for a Cold While Pregnant

Pregnant woman resting
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While it's never fun to get a cough or cold, pregnancy can seem like a really awful time to be sick. But as luck would have it, you're likely to experience one or both, since pregnant women have weakened immune systems and as a result are at a higher risk of catching the cold or flu virus. Research suggests that a weaker immune system helps stop your body from rejecting the unborn baby, leaving you vulnerable to the pesky cold and flu virus.

So what does that mean for the medication that you can take now that you are sick? Is it even safe to be taking over the counter medication while pregnant and what's the best medication to take?

Treating a Cold or Flu When Pregnant

If you have a cold in the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy, then most doctors will advise you to avoid any and all types of medications. The first trimester is a critical time for your baby's development and it's best if you consider only taking comfort care measures, such as:

  • More rest, relaxation and increasing the amount of sleep you are getting
  • Drinking water and limiting sugary beverages
  • Swishing and gargling salt water for sore throats or cough
  • Eating healthy, nutrient packed meats, including warm homemade soups and stews made with lots of veggies

Even after the initial 12 week period, it is best to double check with your doctor about the type and brand of medication you can take, as many doctors still caution against taking over the counter drugs within the first 28 weeks.

Once you have been given the green light by your doctor, the best advice is to take a medication that treats only the symptoms that you have. Don't go for the big daddy of all cold medicines and buy the "cover every symptom you could possibly think of" medicine. Stick to what you need and only what you need.

So if you're suffering with a stuffy nose, get only stuffy nose medicines. When you're buying medication, even over the counter medication, be sure to read the ingredients label first.

Types of Cold Medications to Consider

For coughs and colds, consider taking over the counter medication that just treats congestion, a sore throat and/or thins out mucus. The following suggestions may be helpful:

  • Over the counter cough drops such as Hall's cough drops or Cepacol lozenges (don't over do these, they are not candy and you should use the recommended dosage amount)
  • Expectorants containing guaifenesin (cough and cold medication that can thin out mucus to make it easier to clear from the head, throat, and lungs)
  • Cough suppressants with dextromethorphan (cough medication that can also contain decongestants, pain relievers and antihistamines) such as Robitussin and Robitussin DM cough syrups
  • Combination guaifenesin/dextromethorphan drugs
  • Acetaminophen such as Tylenol (reduces fevers and treats minor aches and pains)
  • Menthol rubs such as Vicks for the chest, under the nose and temples

Common OTC Medications to Avoid While Pregnant

There are some medications that you should avoid while pregnant, unless recommended by your doctor, such as:

  • Ibuprofen such as Motrin, Advil, or others
  • Alcoholic preparations (in medications and out)
  • Aspirin, an anti-inflammatory and blood thinner used to treat pain, fever, headache, and inflammation.
  • Codeine, a narcotic used to treat pain and cough
  • Bactrim, an antibiotic used to treat and prevent infections
  • Naproxen, an anti-inflammatory used to treat fever and pain such as Aleve
  • Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine (decogestants) in 1st trimester (data is conflicting). Use in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters is generally acceptable for brief durations when done responsibly.

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