What is the danger of cold during pregnancy?
Colds during pregnancy often point to upper respiratory tract infections. These infections endanger both the mother and the baby, even if it is just a common cold. The illness may lead to inflammation of the membranes surrounding and protecting the baby and can trigger early labor because of this inflammatory process.
It is dangerous to leave untreated as it can cause serious complications
What are the symptoms of a cold?
The symptoms you should watch out for when combating a cold include cough, tiredness, mild fever (less than 100°F or 38°C), muscle aches, headache, and nasal congestion. The symptoms will appear in the early stages of your pregnancy if they do become prevalent.
Most women don't suffer from these at all during their first trimester, but it is likely that they will experience them later on in their pregnancy. It is important to note that severe vomiting and diarrhea may also be signs of dehydration, which can lead to preterm labor through the inflammatory process mentioned above.
What if it is flu?
If you are suspecting that your illness is the flu, then it will be for the best if you visit your doctor as soon as possible. Symptoms of sudden high fever (over 102°F or 39 °C), weakness, severe muscle aches, and chills should raise a red flag.
If you have contracted the flu during your first trimester, then this can lead to serious complications with your baby's development. This is due to the possibility of the baby contracting the virus as well. One such complication that may occur during your second trimester is premature membrane rupture.
What happens to a baby when a mother has a cold?
The baby is most at risk of contracting the virus during the early stages of pregnancy, especially during the first trimester. A study conducted a few years ago has shown that a majority of babies will contract a respiratory tract infection if their mother has one.
The result was still the same even when other factors were taken into consideration. This shows that there's a strong correlation between colds and upper respiratory tract infections during pregnancy.
What are the complications associated with a cold?
A lot can happen as your illness progresses throughout your pregnancy. Preterm labor may rise because of the inflammatory process mentioned above leading to premature membrane rupture or placental abruption.
Women who have been exposed to this condition have an increased chance of excessive bleeding from the vagina following birth. This may require a blood transfusion. In addition to this, if you have been exposed to influenza during your first trimester, there is a risk of miscarriage as well as stillbirth.
How to treat the common cold in pregnant women?
You know for yourself well what you can do to find help from your cold at home - you drink some hot tea with honey and lemon, use a humidifier or vaporizer to breathe in the moist air. What else can be done?
It is best not to take any medications or supplements without consulting your doctor first.
Try these remedies:
- Gargle with salt water: This will help reduce the swelling and soothe pain in the chest and throat. Mix half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle for 10 minutes before going to bed. If possible, do this every few hours during the daytime as well.
- Drink plenty of fluids: Fluids keep you hydrated and flush out bacteria-causing acne from the system. They also prevent dehydration that can trigger early labor by softening the cervix tissue which is the opening through which the baby passes during childbirth (labor). Frequent urination may be an indicator of dehydration, avoid alcohol and caffeine in beverages, these are diuretics that dehydrate you further.
- Use vaporizers or humidifiers: It is best to fill the room with steam coming from hot water with either eucalyptus oil added to it or some camphor balls burning on coal (the latter also helps get rid of tough cough). Remember not to heat up anything for pregnant women! Room temperature warm mist vaporizer that uses electricity may be used safely under supervision provided they do not get too hot.
If you don't have any of these options, use a cool-mist vaporizer instead of using warm ones like your body does naturally during fever (when your body's core temperature rises above 100°F or 38°C). For more information on how to use a humidifier, visit the link.
- Eat garlic: Garlic is anti-inflammatory and has antiviral properties so eating a few cloves of it daily should keep you safe from common colds during pregnancy. It should be eaten raw or can be taken in form of supplements if regular consumption is difficult. Avoid giving honey to children below 1 year of age, take only HALF STRENGTH capsule for pregnant women since too much intake may lead to infant botulism (its spores are present in honey and its toxins get produced by the baby's immature digestive system). Honey should not be given before 6 months of age, but after that period can usually be safely consumed once or twice a week in small amounts (less than ¼th of a teaspoon).
- Prepare homemade cough syrup: Mix enough honey and glycerin (glycerin is available in local drugstores) to make a paste, add some lemon juice to it, along with ¼th of grated ginger (not more than that because excessive intake can cause side effects like stomach bleeding/irritation) and boil the mixture until the volume is reduced by half. Let it cool down then store for use when needed. You may sweeten this mixture with artificial sweetener instead of sugar if you wish to avoid spreading cold germs any further via your hands.
- Drink hot fluids made from roots of wild ginseng like schizandra, lilyturf root, etc. These herbs are considered to be very effective in fighting colds and infections. They might not give you instant relief but will help prevent the virus from developing further.
- Avoid dairy products: Milk makes mucus thicker so do not consume milk-based soups, smoothies, etc. Too much milk can also reduce your body's immunity as a whole as well as make you feel less hungry for regular foods which are not good if you want some quick energy during this time of illness since pregnant women can require more calories than normal ones to keep themselves stronger during their pregnancy period.
- Maintain humidity indoors: Make sure that there is enough moisture present in your home before going out for shopping, groceries, etc., it would be difficult to do so if you go out in the cold weather and get exposed to the dry outside air.
- Eat foods with Vitamin C: Foods like oranges, grapefruit, berries, etc., help in keeping your body strong enough to fight off infections like common colds during pregnancy and hence, should be made a part of every meal.
- Take hot showers: It is advisable to take warm showers several times a day because they open up skin pores and make mucus secretions easier (and it also feels great!). You can add some salt or baking soda in your bath water for further benefits (both these ingredients help in boosting overall immunity).
- Apply steam on the face: Steam helps clear nasal passages and prevents them from becoming too dry. Use a towel to cover your head for this purpose, so that the steam gets directed only towards your face and does not escape through openings in your home/room. You can also use a vaporizer to produce steam at regular intervals during the day.
- Do not eat hot or spicy foods: Avoid consuming too many food items like red chili peppers, pepper sauces, etc., because while they may help you get rid of cold very quickly, they can dry out mucus secretions which are necessary for keeping nasal passages moist enough (and also prevent them from becoming cracked/irritated).
If these items must be included in your diet (at least during the first few days of illness), mix plenty of water with them and drink it all up.
- Take Vitamin B1 supplements: Vitamin B1 helps in easing the symptoms of common colds during pregnancy, so taking small doses along with your regular prenatal vitamin tablets can do you good. Avoid too much intake of Vitamin B6 though because it may lead to birth defects and might even cause problems like seizures.
Contraindications for pregnant women
However, not every remedy is good for a mother and her child. Thus, before using home remedies for colds during pregnancy it is necessary to know the contraindications.
Here are some points that must be taken into consideration:
- Never attempt to treat yourself by taking cough drops or allergy medicine if you are pregnant. These may contain medicines that can cause birth defects and other problems in your child. You must consult a doctor if you have flu or cold symptoms then he will tell you what medicine should you take or not.
- Do not give honey to children under one year of age because they can develop botulism, a potentially lethal disease caused by toxins produced by bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. The spores are found in soil and can survive boiling water temperatures, then when ingested, germinate in the intestines and release the toxin there.
- As much as possible do not take ibuprofen when you have flu or the common cold, because taking it during the first trimester of your pregnancy can cause birth defects in your unborn child. In case you need to use any pain killer then use acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead.
- Echinacea is often used to treat colds and flu but pregnant women should be careful with this remedy because it may have negative effects on the mother as well as her baby.
Some studies have found that taking echinacea by an expectant mother tends to reduce the number of white blood cells (needed to fight infection) available for immune system activity. So, better stay away from echinacea during the first trimester if you are expecting a baby boy or take care not to use any herbal medications beyond that point.
- Garlic is very good for pregnant women but there must be a balance between its benefits and risks because regular intake of garlic can lead to breathing problems, diarrhea, and severe allergic reactions. So, do not consume more than one clove of garlic a day during your pregnancy.
- Ginseng is another home remedy that pregnant women should limit their use of because large quantities of it can be dangerous due to its stimulant effects on the body.
When should you attend a doctor's?
Even though these home remedies for colds during pregnancy might help you ease the symptoms of your illness, if your flu or common cold is accompanied by any unusual symptoms, make sure to consult a doctor.
These symptoms may include high fever, severe headache, and difficulty in breathing. Moreover, if you are pregnant with twins or more babies then seek medical assistance immediately because they need special care even when you have a simple cold.
Do not hesitate to call the 911 ambulance service for quick medical assistance whenever necessary.
How to prevent getting colds?
Of course, the best thing to do is prevent yourself from getting a cold or flu. Here are some tips for this:
- Wash your hands often and properly with soap and water because dirty hands can cause many diseases like the common cold and flu. If possible use disposable germicidal wipes or hand sanitizers which kill 99% of germs and bacteria on contact;
- Do not share utensils with others;
- Keep your surroundings as clean as possible (especially shared spaces like bathrooms) by using disinfectants like bleach, Lysol, etc.;
- Avoid people who seem sick;
- Get vaccinated against the common cold by consulting your doctor;
- Exercise regularly because it will boost your immunity power;
- Eat healthy food that contains zinc, vitamin A and C.
- Take plenty of rest and sleep 7-9 hours a day because it is very important to stay healthy when you are pregnant;
- Keep yourself hygienic by using scented soaps, shampoos, etc.;
Getting a cold during pregnancy is not at all dangerous for you and your baby, but it can be very uncomfortable. So, if home remedies for colds during pregnancy mentioned in this article do not seem to work then you can take a rest and wait until it gets over.
Do not worry too much because the chances of complications occurring due to the common cold are very slim both for mother and unborn child. However, make sure to consult your doctor when you feel severe pain in the chest; severe headache and high fever; difficult breathing, and any unusual symptoms that might indicate other complications like pneumonia or bronchitis.
If you want an easy delivery then stay away from illness as far as possible during your pregnancy period.