For pregnant women, something as routine as a winter cold can be a huge source of anxiety. Fortunately, catching a cold is mostly just an annoyance, even for pregnant moms. But there are some special considerations for pregnant moms to keep in mind to prevent and treat colds.
Below are some common questions about winter colds I’m often asked by my patients.
Are pregnant moms more likely to catch a winter cold? Is it bad for the baby?
When you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as strong as normal, which means you’re more susceptible to catching a cough, the cold or the flu. Luckily, there’s no risk of health concerns for the baby when mom catches a winter cold.
How can pregnant women prevent catching a cold?
There are a number of steps pregnant women can take to avoid coming down with a winter illness. Get a flu shot if you’re pregnant during flu season. The flu shot won’t harm the health of your baby, and it will protect you from the misery of having the flu while pregnant. Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer regularly, especially if you’ve come in contact with a surface that’s likely to have germs, like doorknobs or shopping carts. Do your best to avoid people with cold or flu-like symptoms. And take a pre-natal vitamin to boost your immune system.
How should a pregnant mom treat a winter cold?
For the most part, you should take all the same steps you’d take to treat a cold if you weren’t pregnant. Get plenty of rest, eat a healthy vitamin-rich diet and stay hydrated. If you need to, you can treat your cold with most over-the-counter medicines, although some of them might not be safe during pregnancy.
Medicines you can take include cough drops, cough syrup, and cold symptom relief medicines like Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec. But you should use caution when taking Sudafed if you’ve had high blood pressure before or during pregnancy. For your own peace of mind, feel free to consult with your doctor before taking any medications during pregnancy.
When should a pregnant mom see a doctor for a winter cold?
If you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, a high fever, body aches or chills, you should speak with your physician or urgent care about a flu test. If you test positive for the flu you can take Tamiflu, a medication that treats the symptoms of the flu and helps you beat the illness quickly. Tamiflu should be started within the first 48 hours of flu symptoms.
If you don’t feel better within 7-10 days of the initial cold symptoms, you should see a doctor to be sure you don’t have a bacterial or respiratory infection.
If you’re experiencing headaches, yellow or green mucus, or pain or tenderness in the face, sinuses or ears, you should see a doctor to be sure you don’t have a sinus infection.
When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to contact your OB/GYN. We can help you create a safe treatment plan for your cold and make sure you don’t have the flu or a more serious medical condition.
If you have additional questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please feel free to contact Women’s Care of Colorado at 303-325-1285 or visit our website.
** This blog post was written to serve as informational guidance about winter colds for pregnant women. It should not be taken as concrete medical advice, nor do the views above reflect the views of OB/GYN Center or the HealthONE organization. As with any medical questions or concerns, it’s imperative to make an appointment with your physician for proper counseling.
Dr. Juliet Leman is a Colorado native who returned to the Mile High City after completing her residency in obstetrics and gynecology in Michigan. An OB/GYN physician at Women’s Care of Colorado, her areas of interest include obstetrics, gynecologic surgery and caring for women in all stages of life. Dr. Leman enjoys spending time outdoors with her family and friends and “tries” to enjoy running.