There is something “extra miserable” about being sick while you're pregnant.
As if it isn't hard enough getting comfortable, add in a stuffy or runny nose, a cough, or a sore throat and it's downright impossible.
While catching a nasty virus is easy enough on its own, pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the germs that cause coughs, colds and flu because of a suppressed immune system. They hit harder and last longer because the body simply isn't able to fight off germs and viruses as well as it normally does.
So how can you protect yourself against cold and flu while expecting?
Get a flu shot. Flu shots are absolutely crucial when you are pregnant. The flu vaccine won't protect you against the stomach flu, but it will protect your system against the season's most common strains of respiratory influenza. The flu is extraordinarily dangerous during pregnancy. In fact, pregnant women are one of the highest demographics of people who have serious complications from the flu including death. Getting the influenza vaccine before flu season arrives is ideal but it is not too late. Get your flu shot!
Dr. Rebecca Jacobi is an OB/GYN and surgeon at the Methodist Physicians Clinic Women's Center. She blogs once a month for livewellnebraska.com. Read more from Dr. Jacobi.
Wash your hands often. Good hand washing is very important when it comes to preventing germs from spreading. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer available nearby for when hand washing isn't possible. Use it often.
Take your vitamins. A good prenatal vitamin will help boost your body's immune system with extra vitamin C and zinc. And don't forget to add important nutrients the natural way by eating lots of fruits and veggies.
Even if you take all the precautions, colds and flu can still happen. Being pregnant doesn't mean you have to suffer through your symptoms. It just means making a few changes in order to protect your developing child.
Treating your cold or flu doesn't have to be a scary experience. There are lots of safe things you can do to help yourself feel better.
Take over-the-counter medications. Many OTC cold medications such as Tylenol, Mucinex, and Robitussin D are fine during pregnancy, but you will need to avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil, Motrin, or Aleve. Use medications only as needed, and according to the package directions. If you have questions about what is and isn't safe, your symptoms persist for more that 10 to 14 days, or you have a persistent fever, speak with your health-care provider.
Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is key with any cold or flu. Aim to drink a cup an hour if at all possible. Hot beverages such as tea, lemon water, or chicken broth can help soothe an irritated throat. If your stomach is upset, consider sucking on ice chips, popsicles, or sipping Gatorade.
Hydrate your sinuses. If you're all clogged up, a hot shower or humidifier can help clear your sinuses and provide a great deal of relief. You can also try a saline spray or a Neti pot to open up and flush out your nasal passages.
Get plenty of rest. Lie down and take it easy. Keep your stress to a minimum.
Though most colds won't harm your unborn baby, the flu should be taken seriously. If you think you may have the flu or are exposed to someone diagnosed with influenza, call your health-care provider right away. It's always better to be safe than sorry.