Pregnancy Colds – A Consultation with Dr Mummykins

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…

Dr Mummykins on the phone
Dr Mummykins ready and waiting

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?

Elevation
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.

Moisture
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.)

Snuffle Babe
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.

Paracetamol
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.

Potters Pastilles
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!)

Curry
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.

Nasal Strips
‘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.

No comment.

Uh oh.

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!

Coffee cup, stethoscope, keyboard, pen

 

The online wisdom of Dr Mummykins, our real-life blogging Doctor, can be found here. You will also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Diary of an imperfect mum
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34 thoughts on “Pregnancy Colds – A Consultation with Dr Mummykins

  1. This was quite great and reminded me of how much I hated not being able to take medicine when I was pregnant. Pretty sure I experienced almost all pregnancy symptoms. Didn’t have a cold but had the a stomach virus. Not fun. Thanks for all of the informative tips for dealing with colds while pregnant. Great job the two of you! #TribalLove

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  2. I love this! Hope you feel better soon Lucy – Dr Mummykins you are so wise! I found it so difficult during pregnancy when I had a cough and cold, I would ordinarily dose up on cough syrup and nurofen and couldn’t take anything! Manuka honey was my friend though 🙂 xxx #triballove

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  3. Wise words from Dr Mummykins and very useful to know what you can do to help ease a cold in pregnancy. I’m liking the decor in the doctors’ surgery – you must be being seen as a private patient! Thanks for hosting #FamilyFun this week! 🙂 #triballove

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  4. Hilarious! I love the imagines of the Doc with her wonderful clinic and wish that more GP’s would follow suit. I’m not sure that she was particularly helpful in solving your cold issues though Lucy 😉 you seem to have tried every trick in the book! Although I was fascinated about the elevation facts. Personally I disagree with the honey and lemon, but to be fair I do use it for a sore throat rather than a cold… hope you feel better soon! #familyfun #triballove

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    1. Trying everything, and if another cold strikes I will try more! Yes I am a fan of honey and lemon for sore throats…I used it through breastfeeding BUT I used Manuka honey (when I could afford it)…I did swear by it. Have no idea if there’s anything to actually, scientifically prove it’s use but I liked it. Thank you for commenting x

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  5. this is great 🙂 thanks for sharing! I had a really bad cold at the end of my pregnancy and it really felt like hell. I remember crying in the bathroom, on the floor, in a sniffling, snotty mess! Nice. #FamilyFun

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    1. Oh no, that sounds miserable. It is miserable though isn’t it. Ugh I’m hoping the summer weather will knock any common colds out of my way and I won’t have to try all these things (and more) again! Thank you for commenting x

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  6. I absolutely love this! Inspired post you clever girls. I’m now sat here thinking about all the things I could ask Dr Mummykins – think you girls could be on to something here for real! Brilliant post and entertaining as always #familyfun #triballove x

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  7. I just got over a really nasty bout of flu and swallowed (inhauled and rubbed in) anything that I could get my shivery hands on! Your post reminded me of what a dilemma it is when you are pregnant. I remember getting a cold when I was expecting my youngest (now 10 years ago) and being told that ‘plenty of rest’ was important. Hahaha!. Not very likely with two small kids to look after. The upside is that my kids really looked after me when I was ill last month. I actually got to stay in bed whilst they did the cooking. Pay back time! Take care. #familyfun

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    1. Ahhh that’s lovely! Definitely payback. Yes plenty of a rest was one of the ways I was told to get through morning sickness – that would have been so nice but yes impossible with a toddler (one was bad enough, two impossible!). Thank you for commenting x

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  8. When I first discovered I was pregnant with no:2 I was feeling flu like symptoms. I had my flu jab early on but felt like I’d gone through a boxing match! My advice would be always test whether you are pregnant or not and read the advice labels on the products. #familyfun

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  9. Haha!! Love this. I have certainly experienced the grottiness of a cold when pregnant (and no one needs to be coughing with a belly the size of a house on your bladder!) so feel your pain! Especially tricky with a toddler in the house. Sending hugs and (ineffective) Olbas oil your way xxx #familyfun

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    1. Ha! Thank you, sorry you’ve experienced horrible pregnancy colds too, hopefully not too much with this pregnancy. I actually am a big fan of olbas oil but didn’t know I could sniff it when pregnant so the next cold will be olbased out! Coughing/bladder uggghhh xxx

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  10. Great idea & excellent advice from Dr Mummykins! I had so many colds in both pregnancies (& while breastfeeding) – it’s very annoying! (Also I have hayfever &, of course, no antihistamines allowed!) If I’m completely honest, however, I’m pretty sceptical about whether any cold remedies actually work, even when you can access the full pharmaceutical arsenal – I tend to find, no, they do nothing! Hope you stay cold free for the rest of the pregnancy! x #familyfun

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    1. Oh no! Ugh if you don’t find they work that is depressing. No antihistamines I didn’t realise – gosh that must be hard with hayfever, assuming they do work! Thanks for commenting, I agree good advice once again from the Doc X

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