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Being sick is never convenient. But when you’re sick while pregnant, it can feel like you’ll never get well without the medications you’re used to taking. Extra precaution is essential when you’re carrying a child, as traditional cold and flu medications can pose dangerous risks to the child. So, what can you do when you get sick while pregnant?

First let’s look at the common cold. You know it the moment it starts — that scratch in your throat, a runny nose or nagging cough — and this is typically the time you run to the medicine cabinet and grab your favorite over-the-counter medication. These drugs most often contain decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers and often sedatives, designed to relieve your symptoms while your body recovers.

While your doctor will advise you which — if any — OTC medications they feel are safe to take during pregnancy, you can try some more natural remedies first. A great one to start with is a saline nasal rinse. These are available in many forms, including the traditional neti pot as well as more convenient, squeezable bottles to help pass water through the nasal and sinus passages to hydrate them and remove any congestion. To soothe a sore throat and keep a cough at bay, make up a cup of herbal tea with honey and lemon. Just be sure to avoid raw honey — while praised for its antibiotic properties, raw honey isn’t pasteurized and therefore should be avoided by women during pregnancy.

Now for the virus no pregnant woman wants to deal with: the flu. First and foremost, it’s crucial to get a flu vaccine to protect both yourself and the baby. If you develop a fever and are feeling sluggish (more than expected with a pregnancy), get to the doctor right away to determine the cause. Next, your doctor may recommend taking acetaminophen to lower your temperature — be sure to follow their dosage instructions carefully. Beyond that, getting plenty of rest and fluids is the best way to overcome the flu. While it can be difficult if you’re not feeling well, be sure to eat to support your health and the baby’s.

Getting sick at some stage while pregnant is, unfortunately, highly likely. Most women will at least develop a cold during the nine months they’re carrying the baby. It’s important to take some extra steps to try to prevent contracting a cold or the flu and to continue supporting your baby’s development. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before eating or touching your face.
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
  • Take your prenatal vitamins as recommended by your physician. Don’t take any extra vitamins or minerals (like large doses of vitamin C or zinc) without their approval.
  • Use an essential oil diffuser with eucalyptus oil to help cleanse the air and reduce airborn bacteria. Or use eucalyptus oil in a very low dilution in the bath to help clear mucus and ease congestion and also to help with a urinary infection.
  • Get plenty of sleep to keep the immune system strong.
  • Exercise as regularly as you can to help fortify your body’s defenses.

Time and rest will help you overcome what ails you. Just be patient and be good to yourself for a more healthful, comfortable pregnancy.

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