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Fighting Colds and Flu During Pregnancy

Posted by Administrator to Pregnancy
cold flu pregnancyI woke up sick today. I'm not sure if it's a cold or flu yet, but I'm aching all over, the glands in my throat are swollen and my head is in a fog. Colds and flu are no fun. But as much as I'm tempted to complain, I can't. Because at least I’m not experiencing colds or flu during pregnancy.

Should I desire, I can take any host of over-the-counter medicines to alleviate my cold and flu symptoms. But during pregnancy, colds and flu are even more unpleasant because so many of the OTC remedies you'd normally reach for are no-no's.

Pregnant women are restricted from many common medications and chemicals, including my personal favorite pain-reliever and sore throat tamer, ibuprofen.

For that reason, many women turn to natural and organic solutions to cope with cold and flu symptoms—and to build up the immune system to prevent colds and flu during pregnancy.

Just because it’s natural or organic, however, doesn’t mean it’s safe for use during pregnancy!

Many common botanical or natural ingredients are contraindicated for use during pregnancy, either because of their potential toxicity or because of their power to initiate labor prematurely. Again, as an example, my personal favorites: echinacea and goldenseal. Commonly used in combination to fight colds, infection, and flu, echinacea and goldenseal may cause miscarriage in high doses. 

So what is a sick, pregnant woman to do to feel better? Here are some tips.

Natural, safe ways to fight colds and flu during pregnancy

Fresh Pineapple

One of the most surprising bits of advice I learned recently is to munch on some pineapple at the first signs of a cold. I forget where I read this helpful tidbit, but a little research revealed the reason why.

It's not only rich in Vitamin C (just like that old cold standby orange juice), but pineapple also has bromelain, a substance shown to aid in cough suppression and getting rid of mucus. The trick about getting the benefit from pineapple at the first signs of cold, however, is that you have to eat it fresh. The processing for canned or juiced pineapple destroys the bromelain.

Lemon Tea

My personal favorite way to cope with colds and flu is lemon tea. While I reach for the pre-bagged herbal lemon teas from Celestial Seasonings or Bigelow, you may not feel comfortable doing so. They both contain lemongrass which is an herb that may stimulate contractions. So, while I'm putting my feet up with a pot of "Lemon Zinger," you might have to make your own lemon tea with some fresh squeezed lemon juice and hot water. For extra germ-fighting (and morning sickness relief—an added bonus) add in some grated fresh ginger. At the first sign of sore throat, add a teaspoon of honey.

Family Immunity Tea

Family Immunity Tea from Birds & Bees Teas in Colorado is a new herbal tea that made its debut in the fall of 2013 and now it's time for me to try some! I'll be boiling some water shortly and starting to consume this pregnancy-safe immune-booster to try it myself. (I guess I should have tried it earlier in the cold and flu season to see if it helped prevent me from getting sick!) Formulated by an herbalist, doula and women's health expert, Family Immunity Tea is hand-crafted with organic herbs and spices to support your body's immune system with the goal to help prevent, ward off and shorten the duration and intensity of colds and flu while pregnant.

Chicken Soup

I just took a break from this post to start making some chicken soup for dinner. Yes, chicken soup is still something I reach for when I have a cold or flu, and you can, too. The only caveat is the sodium. Pregnant women need to be careful of too much sodium which can not only cause edema (swelling) but also pre-eclampsia. So for the chicken soup remedy during pregnancy, either make your own with a lower-sodium broth, or look for low-sodium on the can if you're too ill to make your own. According to researchers, chicken soup's ingredients have immune-boosting effects.
Miso soup, a vegetarian alternative, has probiotics in it from the fermentation of the soy into miso. Those probiotics help strengthen the immune system, so you still get healthy benefits from your bowl of hot miso soup, too, if you're not into chicken.

Cremini mushrooms

I'm not much of a mushroom fan, but cremini mushrooms—the small, brown ones that are really baby portobellos—are among the ones I like. Good news for me, since as it turns out cremini mushrooms have some immune-boosting power, too. According to "Natural Immunity Boosters" published at The S File, cremini mushrooms are rich in selenium, antioxidants, Vitamin B, niacin and riboflavin—substances that support your body's healthy cells and immunity.


In that same post, the author also offers this fantastic idea for staying naturally healthy during cold and flu season:

Although when you’re sick you usually just want to lay in bed and do nothing, it’s important to reconsider what movement, especially walking and stretching, might be able to do for your body. Immune cells travel through your body through lympahtic fluid which means if your body is tight then cells are unable to circulate through the body to fight. Simply stretching your body helps facilitate the flow of immune cells to promote defense.

Prenatal yoga, anyone? If you haven't started a yoga program during your pregnancy, this cold and flu season might be the incentive you need to give it a try.
Speaking of which, I've been on the couch almost all day. I think a 30-minute dose of yoga is in order for me now. Before my chicken soup...

How are you planning to cope with colds and flu during your pregnancy?

Thanks for reading,

Tara Bloom, Owner

An Important Note About Pregnant Women and H1N1

This 2014 flu season has brought a return of that nasty H1N1 flu virus. I'm sure you've heard that this flu is no inconsequential affair for pregnant women and I hope you've discussed the importance of a flu shot this year with your midwife or OB/Gyn. (But if you haven't, please do). Pregnant women are at greater risk of getting H1N1 and may experience serious effects from contracting the disease. Please read the CDC's fact sheet for pregnant women about H1N1 from 2009 (the last time when we had a severe H1N1 flu season) and call your doctor at the first sign of flu symptoms, including sore throat, fever, headache, body ache, if you are pregnant. No fooling around! I'm not a doctor or health care provider and the information above is not medical advice, hence, none of the tips in this blog post should take the place of communicating with your health care provider and following her/his instructions for your care during flu season. Got it? Okay, good. 

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