Having a baby with a cold is not much fun at all…and it turns out that having a cold with a baby isn’t much fun either, and by ‘with’ I mean ‘pregnant with’…
I didn’t have so much as a sniffle during my first pregnancy…three years later, older, more tired and with a toddler in tow means I am on my second cold now already and I’ve still got four months to go. So what would any sensible person do? Moan? Yes. Try anything? Well, yes. But I’m also going to take my blogging self off to the fabulous Dr Mummykins for a consultation. Not only a medical professional but been there/ had that, so she can debunk the remedy myths and offer some sound advice…
I start by tentatively making an appointment…no receptionists, just Twitter. It’s the modern way. I enter the surgery and I launch in with a moan first…
Good Morning Dr Mummykins, I’m fed up, pissed off, bunged up (I’m a ray of light in her digital surgery this morning). Pregnancy colds seem worse than normal colds…longer, bigger and more coldy than normal colds?
Morning Lucy! Do come in…take a seat in my classic tan leather studded armchair next to that gorgeous vase of white lilies (Look, if we’re gonna play pretend, allow me to dream okay?)
Sorry to hear you feel so rough, but in many ways this is typical in pregnancy. The immune system does change when we are pregnant.
Our immunity “is weakened” in order for us not to reject the “foreign” baby in our wombs (although our immune system does not become completely useless).
In fact, when a pregnant person catches certain infections (an important example is the flu)- our immune response actually goes into overdrive (probably as a protective mechanism to try and get rid of the virus so that the baby is not harmed).
Unfortunately the immune response can be so strong that it causes more harm than good and can lead to terrible flu-related complications. This is one of the reasons why women are so susceptible to becoming life-threateningly ill with the flu and why we recommend the flu jab to all pregnant people.
Frightening stuff…jab away. Well not again actually, once a pregnancy for the flu-jab is enough. Ok so perhaps the ferociousness of the common cold is exacerbated by the pregnant woman’s inability to have any of the normal ‘quick fix’ cold remedies during pregnancy?
(I’ve got Doctor’s surgery nerves and don’t let her answer before rushing in with my next ‘thought’…)
I was thinking about War of the Worlds today (Dr Mummykins looks alarmed)…you know, the downfall of those aliens was the common cold. I’ve decided it was probably sleep deprivation brought on by their cold symptoms that got them in the end…if some kind soul had kept them in a ready supply of Strepsils, made them up a smelly hanky of Olbas oil and administered a nice strong Lemsip before bed each night I’m confident the tale would have taken a different turn…
(Leans back in super comfy black leather desk chair with added lumbar support and gentle automatic massage options.) I can’t speak for the alien species…but animals certainly do suffer with colds…they just don’t have the vocabulary to complain about it (or opposable thumbs they would require to get their paws on that precious bottle of Olbas oil).
Oh poor animals, (note to self to be more aware and sympathetic of snotty four-legged creatures).
Ok so without the above arsenal of cold-fighting products I’ve been trying out a few different remedies. And I need you Dr Mummykins. Tell me, have I been trying things in vain or have I been a pillar of congested wisdom, a ninja of nasal clearing with these approaches?
I’ve added more pillows to my already over-full bed. I was practically sitting up one night.
Sleeping propped up in pregnancy doesn’t work well because the pressure of the pregnant belly squeezes up into the diaphragm and the stomach. This can make you feel pretty uncomfortable, give you indigestion and also make breathing feel more difficult.
Well that would explain that particular sleepless night – I was emphatically NOT comfortable.
If you angle the bed however (use some pregnancy textbooks/boxes of anticipatory breast pads/bricks and place them under the legs at the head of the bed) it should help.
Well steam more accurately. I start with a hot shower before bed to help clear the airways…it doesn’t. And so midway through my first cold I dragged my son’s humidifier from the back of his cupboard and now get that roaring each night. I don’t know if it’s working but I am falling asleep much quicker with it on, it could be the soothing white noise mind you…
It is true. Steaming is safe and can work to relieve congestion by loosening up the mucus so that you can blow it out more easily. Sometimes the steaming required has to be of the more hard-core variety (head over a steaming pan of water and towel over the head affair) but please please please take care not to boil your face in the process or make yourself feel faint.)
Taking the approach that since this is fine for babies it’s probably fine for pregnancy , I am slathering it on my chest, wrists, neck each night. I can’t smell it AT ALL but my son appeared one morning, wrinkled his nose, declared ‘you smell’ and left again.
This is fine to use. As is Olbas Oil. I’m not gonna lie…it doesn’t do much, but it gives you the sensation that it does and that’s half the battle won in my books!
There are some nasal sprays considered safe in pregnancy, so if you are totally bunged up – your GP can help ease the misery for you if you pay them a visit.
For the cold-induced headache
Paracetamol is completely fine to use in pregnancy, so a good choice. If you felt paracetamol was not strong enough for that headache or a sore throat for example…don’t suffer in silence. Your GP can prescribe you stronger painkillers that are safe in pregnancy, but please don’t buy anything stronger over the counter yourself. Always discuss painkillers other than paracetamol with your doctor.
Otherwise known as expensive fruit pastilles? Hmm…the pharmacist enthused excitedly about soothing Glycerine and I was desperate.
(Puts Gucci specs down on mahogany desk from the 1800’s.) Those are fine to use but full of sugar syrup, so not one to take regularly. (Oh and the scientist in me feels the need to tell you that there is no evidence that any cough syrups or remedies work. Don’t shoot the messenger.)
Nooooo! Damn science! Ok, I’ll get over it…back to some more cold remedies:
Honey and Lemon
Apparently Manuka honey is the way to go, which is fine, hmm if only I could find where I put the safe key to get my suitcase of money out… Oh wait, I don’t have one. So I’ve been taking the odd tot of normal honey and normal lemon.
A good natural soothing remedy (that is tasty but does nowt…I’m sorry!)
Apparently garlic is good for getting rid of colds and all on my own I’ve decided that chilli certainly gets the airways going…combine the two and what have you got? CURRY!? Any excuse really. I don’t know if it works but it’s nice.
This reminds me of the old wive’s tale that you should put chopped onion on your bedside table when you have a cold. Wonder if an onion bhaji would have the same effect…
Ooo, might be nice for middle of the night munchies, you know what’s going to appear on my bedside table tonight!
You might need to put a bottle of Gaviscon on your bedside table as dessert. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
‘Clears airways by 31%!’ the box says. ‘Looks ridiculous, hard to get in the right place, you won’t notice 31% even if that’s true and stings when they come off!’ the box doesn’t say.
So Dr Mummykins, with ‘just try anything’ as my mantra, it takes me about half an hour to get ready for bed at the moment; I have to consult a list, my husband is considering moving out and, yes, I still have a cold…but what else can I do? Are there any medicines I can use?
As a general rule, if you are suffering with a cold in pregnancy and are not sure what medicines are safe to use, please speak to your pharmacist or GP.
It is not known whether cold medicines are truly harmful or not to the unborn baby because no one is able to ethically give drugs to pregnant women and then “see what happens”.
As a result the recommendation is that most medicines are avoided unless discussed with a doctor.
The options mentioned above are all safe to try and if things are becoming unbearable please pay your GP a visit for a check-up and chat about what medical options are available. A happy healthy baby needs a well-rested and happy mummy.
Thanks for visiting Lucy, I wish you better!