Is cold medicine safe during pregnancy? 5 natural remedies to try instead

Our guide to navigating the cold season with a baby on board.


Getting a cold or cough or any kind of upper respiratory issue during pregnancy is not a fun feeling at all. Especially because there's honestly not much you can do about it when it comes to taking medicine while you're pregnant.

Many of the over-the-counter medicines such as Sudafed or NyQuil contain ingredients that could cross through to the placenta and potentially harm your little one, so they are generally not recommended during pregnancy.

Remember that calling your provider should be your first step. You want to ensure that it is "just" a cold, and doesn't require more extensive treatment. Once you get the green light, how can you feel better without the meds?


Here are 5 easy ways to ease the discomfort caused by the common cold during pregnancy:

1. Hydrate and rest

While this is not easy for most of us because we've got jobs, other little ones, and life happening, rest and hydration are some of the best natural cold remedies for pregnancy out there. If you find yourself experiencing the onset of cold or sore throat symptoms, start chugging water right away, preferably room temp or even hot or warm water. Park yourself in horizontal position (naps, night sleep, chill-out time) and try to sleep the hours your body typical needs (but doesn't usually get) for two nights. For example, if you need eight hours but you normally get six, make that ideal eight hour sleep time happen so that your body recovers—for several nights in a row.

2. Get a massage

A prenatal massage does wonders for your body. It stimulates blood and oxygen flow for you and the baby, loosens up tension caused by the expansion of your body, reduces stress and relaxes the mind, some believe it helps to detoxify the body.

After a good massage, be sure to hydrate continuously so that you replenish what was lost during the massage. Ask for a combination of lavender and mint essential oils to help alleviate the symptoms.

Just be sure to go to a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage so you can stay safe.

3. Do a Vicks Vapor Rub + Steam

A little rub does wonders for your breathing, though it takes a while before the cold and cough disappear (vs. taking a decongestant). Still, it's a good way to ease the congestion. A good routine is to take a hot shower and steam up the bathroom, then rub some Vicks on your chest (post bath) and breathe in the steam. The Cleveland Clinic states that Vicks Vapor Rub is safe to use during pregnancy, though make sure to check with your provider first.

4. Turn on a humidifier

Once you get pregnant, take my advice: Buy a humidifier. The air in most homes and apartments is quite dry compared to breathing fresh air, and a humidifier is a great way to increase the precipitation in your home. #TeamMotherly loves the Crane Droplet Humidifier and the Dyson Humidifier.

It is really important to follow the manufacturer instructions on cleaning, and to clean the humidifier often. You want to make sure you are not making yourself more sick by sending bacteria into the air.

5. Eat regularly

Even if it's a small snack such as a piece of fruit or crackers and hummus, it's important to feed your body consistently during pregnancy (ESPECIALLY during a cold!). Pick snacks that won't increase the mucus in your upper respiratory area, which primarily means avoiding dairy products (yogurt, milk, cheese). Nut butters, crackers or whole grains, and soups are all excellent options.

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