- Doctors say pregnant women shouldn’t take Advil, ibuprofen, and aspirin-based products for a cold.
- It is safe for pregnant women to take most over-the-counter cold medications, like Tylenol or cough drops, to help recover from a cold.
- Cold symptoms might feel stronger or come on quicker when you’re pregnant, and you should talk to a doctor if your cold lasts more than seven days.
- This article was medically reviewed by Graham Snyder, MD, MS, medical director for the Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology branch at University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
You’re told to avoid certain behaviours while pregnant– drinking that glass of wine, going out for sushi, and, of course, getting sick. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, you feel those tell-tale signs of a cold coming on.
“The fatigue, sore throat, dry cough, or runny nose symptoms are likely to be the same,” says Octavia Cannon, DO, an osteopathic obstetrician and gynecologist and co-owner of Arboretum Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Plus, catching a cold probably won’t harm your baby. The CDC has a list of infectious diseases that are severe enough to cause a miscarriage or birth defects, and the common cold is not one of them. But it’s still important that you take steps to help you recover as soon as possible.
Just like everyone else, you should “rest, drink plenty of liquids, and make sure that you are eating,” Cannon says. But you’ll have to be more careful when using medications to ease the symptoms.
Pregnant women shouldn’t take Advil or aspirin for a cold
Cannon says to steer clear of Advil, ibuprofen, and aspirin-based products. “Low-dose aspirin is now being used more often in pregnancy for medical indications but can cause bleeding,” she says. “Your doctor should be the only person advising the use of aspirin.”
Beyond that, any basic over-the-counter medications should be safe, according to Cannon. “Usually, Tylenol products, cough syrups, cough drops, and nasal sprays are OK,” she says.
If you’re looking for more natural options, Cannon recommends tried-and-true favourites like chicken soup or vegetable broth and a humidifier to ease a stuffy nose. “Hot teas or water with lemon and honey are also helpful,” she advises.
For more information about what medications, dietary supplements, and herbals you can take while pregnant, the American Academy of Family Physicians has a detailed list, and the CDC is another good source.
Talk to your doctor if cold symptoms last longer than 7 days
First, note when your symptoms started. A cold can last anywhere from 7 to 10 days. But when you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t let a cold go longer than seven days without talking to your doctor about your symptoms, Cannon says.
After that, keep track of the colour of your mucus. “If your mucus changes from clear white to yellow or green, see your doctor right away,” she says. “If your mucus colour changes, that may indicate bacterial involvement, which could turn serious quickly. Your minor cold or seasonal allergy issue could change to bronchitis or upper respiratory infection or sinusitis.”
The good news is, most pregnant women aren’t more at risk of getting a cold. “In general, I’ve found people who deal with the public – teachers, customer service, healthcare providers – are more susceptible regardless of pregnancy status,” Cannon says. “If an expectant mum doesn’t have any other risk factors, her chances are about equal to the average person.”
And to sidestep a cold in the first place, your best bet is to follow the advice you’ve been hearing for years. “Wash your hands! Seriously,” Cannon says. Also, dress for the weather and, whenever possible, stay away from people who are sick.
“Keep a positive, proactive mindset,” Cannon says. “Don’t walk around expecting to get sick, but make sure that you do everything that you can to prevent it.”
Related stories about pregnancy:
- You probably shouldn’t travel after 36 weeks of pregnancy
- Pregnancy symptoms you can expect each trimester of your pregnancy and how to alleviate them
- Yes, pregnancy can cause acne. Here’s when you will breakout the worst and how to treat it.
- When pregnancy cravings start and how long they last
- Yes, Tylenol is safe for pregnancy. Here’s the right dosage
- Can dogs sense pregnancy? Research doesn’t have a definite answer
- Yes, you can get a flu shot while pregnant. Here’s the best time to get it.