One reason I started this blog was to share some of the things I have learned about health and wellness, particularly during my pregnancy. During and before pregnancy, I spent hours and hours researching pregnancy and birth, as well as general nutrition. Now that we have a baby, I am even more intentional in planning our meals and trying to keep us all healthy. So on Wednesdays, I will share information and helpful tips I have learned through research and through trial and error. I am not a medical doctor or expert, so these are just tips from our experience.
Today we will talk about colds during pregnancy. Though your doctor will give you a list of medicines that you can take while pregnant, no medicine is truly safe because it would be unethical to perform tests on pregnant women. This is not to say that there is not a time for medicine; colds can be intense and can be hard to overcome without some help. However, I personally wanted to avoid medicine.
I was pregnant from October until July, so most of my pregnancy was during prime cold and flu season. In addition, I was teaching, which exposed me to so many germs. Before pregnancy, I used to catch every cold that went around, and my seasonal allergies made this worse. Normally I take Echinacea and Goldenseal to get rid of a cold and lessen its effects, but those are not entirely safe when pregnant. I also did not get a flu shot because of a family history of bad reactions. However, I stayed fairly healthy during my pregnancy and only had one cold that was bad enough that I longed for cold medicine.
The most important step to dealing with colds is prevention. For the first time in my life, I took this seriously, and it paid off. I used to try to power through a cold. The cold would then last for a week or so, but I hated taking off work or missing class. However, during pregnancy, I was very concerned about my health and the health of my baby. Prevention is thus key, and here are things I found extremely helpful. I will give tips on dealing with colds next Wednesday.
1. Do not go to work (or anywhere!) sick. If at all possible, just stay home. This is a kind thing for you to do, as well, because it helps prevent the spread of germs. When I stayed home at the first signs of a cold, I was much better even the next day. When I went to work sick, I got a nasty cold that lingered for well over a week. In my experience, prevention is the best medicine. We live in a culture where people walk around sick all the time. We are too busy to pause our lives for a cold. But walking around with a weak immune system is not wise, particularly when pregnant. You don't want to be exposed to more germs when you immune system is already fighting. Some illnesses are particularly dangerous to unborn babies, and you want to avoid those especially.
2. Rest. Don't just rest when you are sick. Try to make time for naps even on days that you feel well. I have also heard lots of sleep can help prevent morning sickness, and I noticed that my nausea was so much better when I got enough sleep. I would nap most days, and though it meant that other areas suffered (I did not get to go to many of the basketball games my husband coached, and grading often took longer than it did pre-pregnancy), it helped tremendously with avoiding colds.
3. Exercise (but don't get exhausted). I loved yoga during pregnancy. I loved this video. I also went on walks when it was nice outside. Ask you doctor or midwife if you have questions about exercise.
4. Wash your hands. I became super vigilant about this during pregnancy.
5. Take a good prenatal vitamin. I like the ones made with whole foods. I will write more about this in the future.
6. Eat and drink well. Stay hydrated; make sure you have a water bottle with you all the time. And eat healthy foods as close to the natural state as possible. Even in winter, eat a wide variety of colorful vegetables. In addition, eat frequently enough. It is important that you keep up your strength.
Next week, I will share the remedies I used to get over the two colds I did get during my pregnancy.
If you have any preventive tips, feel free to leave them in the comments!