Getting sick with a cold or flu isn’t fun on the best of days, but throw in the fact that you are pregnant, and things look even more dreary! While you may prefer to use natural remedies to help with your cold symptoms, you may wonder if these are safe to take while pregnant. Fortunately, there are many natural remedies that are safe in pregnancy (and while breastfeeding) that may help reduce the intensity of the symptoms and support your recovery. Our Naturopathic Medicine team provides natural ways for expecting mamas to prevent and manage getting sick during pregnancy.
How do I know if I have a cold or a flu?
While both colds and flus are viral illnesses (meaning taking an antibiotic won’t be helpful), there are a few symptoms that might suggest what you are dealing with is the influenza virus as opposed to just the common cold. If you think you may have the flu and you are pregnant, it’s important to be in touch with your midwife or OB/GYN. These are some ways to differentiate:
Is there anything I can do to promote a strong immune system?
Absolutely! As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! In addition to prioritizing good sleep, healthy diet and physical activity, we often recommend patients take probiotics and vitamin D on the regular throughout pregnancy. Not only do these serve important roles in supporting the baby’s growth and development, they are superheros at boosting the functioning of your immune system.
Getting your vitamin D levels tested might be a good idea to have a better idea of how much vitamin D you need to supplement with. Your Naturopathic Doctor can provide you with a requisition for this blood test if your medical doctor does not. A small fee is associated with testing vitamin D as it is not covered under OHIP. Yoga Mamas also offers Vitamin D Injection Therapy for mamas who need an immediate boost of Vitamin D.
There is also a growing body of evidence that suggests that taking echinacea during cold and flu season can prevent you from getting sick (it might not be that great once you actually are sick though) - echinacea is one of the few herbal medicines that is deemed safe in pregnancy, but still be sure to run it by your primary care provider or Naturopathic Doctor before you start taking it.
How to prevent getting sick while pregnant:
It happened, I got sick! What can I do now?
We highly recommend staying home and resting your body - it’s already working super hard to grow a baby, so it needs all the help it can get! Sleep is one of the best ways to support your immune system’s ability to fight off a viral infection.
In terms of supplements, Vitamin A is a great anti-viral and reduces inflammation of mucous membranes. Vitamin D promotes a strong immune response to fight off the infection. Zinc stimulates the production of white blood cells, which help combat viruses and research has shown that supplementing with zinc may reduce the risk of catching a cold and those who are experiencing colds, may see a reduction in the intensity of their symptoms.
One of our favourite herbs to consider when you are sick, specifically with the flu, is Elderberry - it not only helps boost your immune system, but also acts as an antiviral agent to kill off the influenza virus (and it tastes delicious!) Again, while these are all considered safe in pregnancy, be sure to speak with your primary care provider or Naturopathic Doctor before starting any new supplements to make sure they are safe for you.
How to manage being sick while pregnant:
With winter on the horizon, start to make a plan to support your immune system and prevent yourself from getting sick this cold and flu season. Curious about how working with a Naturopathic Doctor during pregnancy can help you?
Book yourself in for a complimentary 20-minute meet and greet with Dr. Aida to discuss your health concerns and goals, and what options might be available to you.