How to Survive Cold and Flu Season When You’re Pregnant

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Treating a Cold or Flu During Pregnancy

Getting the cold or flu is never good, and especially not when you’re pregnant. The flu specifically can be more severe when you’re expecting, and it may last three times longer. You may even encounter complications like pneumonia that could lead to a trip to the hospital. A severe flu may even raise your risk of preterm labor and delivery. On a brighter note, the cold or flu isn’t likely to hurt your baby or make you any more likely to get the flu than those not expecting. Best of all, there are easy ways to prevent it and have a healthy pregnancy.

How to Prevent a Cold and the Flu

Get a Flu Shot

The number one way to prevent the flu is getting a flu shot. No matter how far along, you can get the shot – even in your third trimester. October or November is the best time to get vaccinated, as flu season begins in October and lasts till as late as May. The shot will protect both you and the baby from getting the flu for six months after you give birth. This is particularly important, because the flu shot is not safe for infants less than six months old. If someone you’re in close contact with has the flu, your doctor may recommend that you take an antiviral medication as a preventative measure.

Wash Your Hands

Some viruses can live on surfaces for hours. Regular hand washing is the best way to keep them from getting inside your body. If you’re the one who’s sick, washing your hands will keep you from spreading your germs. Make sure you wash your hands with soap, rubbing them together vigorously for 20 seconds. Rub your wrists, between your fingers, and underneath your fingernails. Rinse your hands thoroughly and dry with a clean paper towel or air dryer. If you are in a public restroom, shut the faucet off with a paper towel. Make sure you are also washing your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

Be Active and Get Enough Sleep

Exercise can help decrease your chances of developing a cough or a cold. Taking a daily walk or following a low impact exercise routine may increase your immunity to certain illnesses. Exercise also allows you to sleep better. Pregnancy can affect your sleep cycle, and in turn affect your immune system. A lack of sleep makes you more prone to catching colds and the flu. Exercising on a regular basis will help you work off excess energy and tire you enough to have a more restful sleep. A great low impact exercise to try is prenatal yoga – you’ll feel healthier and more energetic.

How to Treat Cold and Flu Symptoms

Your body can’t fight off the cold or flu as well as it normally does when you’re pregnant. If you were unlucky in preventing the cold or flu, there are some effective remedies to relieve your symptoms.


Rest is a key factor in getting over an illness. If your body is begging for some rest, allow it to rejuvenate and get the sleep that you need. You may be able to breathe easier too if you elevate your head with a couple of pillows while you’re sleeping.

Stay Active

If you’re not running a fever or continuously coughing, light to moderate, pregnancy-safe exercise may help you feel better faster. Don’t push yourself though! Only exercise if you feel up to it.

Eat Foods with Vitamin C

Foods with Vitamin C can help boost your immune system naturally. Include in your diet citrus fruits, strawberries, melon, kiwi, mango, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach.

Eat Meals with Zinc

Food that contains zinc may also help boost your immune system. Try incorporating into your meals more turkey, cooked beef, pork, eggs, yogurt, wheat germ, and oatmeal.

Drink More Fluids

Fever, sneezing, and a runny nose may cause your body to lose fluids that you and your baby need. Drink enough to stay well hydrated during this time. Warm beverages may be particularly soothing, so keep a thermos of hot tea or hot soup near you. Water and cold juices work fine too!

Invest in a Humidifier

One of the best ways to deal with a cough while you’re pregnant is using a humidifier. A humidifier helps maintain or raise the humidity levels in your home, helping provide a temporary relief from coughing. The best part is they’re easy to clean too.

When to See Your Doctor

If you feel like you are getting progressively worse, you may have to call to your obstetrician. You should call your doctor if you are experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Have a fever over 100 °F
  • Coughing up green or yellow mucus
  • Chest pain or wheezing when coughing
  • Sinuses are throbbing
  • Extreme lack of sleep
  • If your symptoms last more than 10 to 14 days.

Schedule an Appointment with an OB/GYN in West Orange, NJ

If you are sick with the cold or flu, contact your obstetrician at Women First Health Center for a safe and healthy pregnancy. We proudly care for women in West Orange, NJ in need of healthcare and reproductive services. Contact us today to start your pregnancy journey off right. We promise you’ll be in good hands!

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