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10 incredible home remedies for colds during pregnancy that actually work

Grandma's chicken soup and other home remedies for colds while pregnant

A pregnant woman blowing her nose with a cold.
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

When you feel a cold coming on, the first thing you normally do is reach for medicines to treat the symptoms like ibuprofen for achiness and Sudafed for stuffiness or an all-around cold med like DayQuil. When you’re pregnant, getting a cold isn’t a regular occurrence, and those over-the-counter cold medications in the cabinet aren’t necessarily safe to take when you’re pregnant.

Many obstetricians don’t recommend taking OTC cold medicine during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester when key developments are taking place with baby. So, what is a mom-to-be supposed to do when she can feel a cold coming on like a freight train? Chicken soup? Watch The Price is Right? Maybe. We have all the home remedies for colds during pregnancy to keep you as comfortable as possible while you get better.

A pregnant woman resting on the couch taking a nap.
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Home remedies for colds during pregnancy

Your mom and grandma must have had those go-to home remedies when you were kids and had colds. Maybe Grandma whipped up her famous chicken soup recipe or your mom got out the warm water and salt as soon as anyone in the house had a throat tickle.

Home remedies aren’t always myths. They actually work and pregnancy is the ideal time to try a home remedy to ease congestion and other telltale signs of a cold. Here are several home remedies for colds to try during pregnancy when you start to feel those symptoms coming on.

Get rest and plenty of fluids

Start with the obvious. The top two ways to feel better when you have a cold are to get some rest and drink plenty of fluids. Water is best, but electrolyte drinks like Pedialyte help restore hydration. Drink as much water as possible throughout the day and get more fluid through foods like watermelon and grapes. Rest is important during pregnancy, but it’s even more vital when you’re under the weather. So, put those feet up and nap.

Lemon water

Since you are drinking all of that water, put lemon in it. Lemon has antioxidants and vitamin C for your immune system. It will also give your water a little flavor to make constantly drinking it a little more fun. Drinking lemon water will help with a cough, congestion, and a sore throat.

Drink tea

Mom probably brought you a cup of tea and honey when you were little and had a cold. This home remedy is still one of the best. Honey is safe to have during pregnancy, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends less than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day. That’s around one 12-ounce mug of tea. If you’re concerned about your caffeine intake, look for caffeine-free teas.

Ginger tea is often suggested to help ease morning sickness and is great for soothing sore throats. If you’re unsure about the type of tea, you should drink to ease your cold symptoms during pregnancy, ask your doctor.

Gargle with warm saltwater

Gargling with warm salt water is another tried-and-true home remedy to ease a sore throat or cough. Add a half teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and gargle for as long as possible before spitting it out. Repeat with new gulps until the cup is done. The salt prevents harmful bacteria from creating an infection and it relieves inflammation and pain.

It’s not dangerous to swallow the water, but it’s not recommended since salt increases dehydration. The water should be warm because it feels better on your sore throat, but as long as the salt dissolves into the water, use cold if you prefer.

Breathe in steam

Just like when a baby has croup, breathing in the warm air from the shower eases congestion and coughing. Create your own steam bath by first pouring hot, steamy water into a large bowl. Drap a towel over your head, being careful not to disturb the bowl. Then lean over and breathe in the steam. Keep a box of tissues nearby because you will need it once things start draining.

Use a humidifier

Put a warm or cool-mist humidifier in your bedroom. Adding moisture to the air is a natural way to combat the congestion and cough from a cold.

A pregnant woman holding her belly and a glass of water.
Cottonbro Studio / Pexels

Other home remedies for colds to try during pregnancy

If you’re still stuffy and feeling awful, here are more safe home remedies for colds to try when you’re pregnant.

Saline nasal spray

Loosen nasal mucus and feel sinus relief with a saline nasal spray. Use saline or a saltwater nasal spray instead of an over-the-counter one like Flonase. A saline spray is safe for baby and you.

Chicken soup

Chicken soup is always good for the soul. It’s also medicinally beneficial — not just a cliche. A study out of the Nebraska Medical Center showed homemade chicken soup with veggies works as an anti-inflammatory. The steam you breathe in while hovering over the bowl to take your sips helps clear your nasal passage, as well. It’s the perfect go-to comfort food for colds for a reason. Make sure your recipe includes onions and garlic, which both contain additional helpful healthy properties for cold relief.

Hot and cold compresses

An ice pack on your face will relieve sinus pain and a warm pack on your forehead feels nice if you have chills. Warm compresses also drain those stuffed nasal passages.

Coconut oil

Rub coconut oil on your chest or consume it orally in tea, broth, oatmeal, or smoothies. Coconut oil has antiviral properties to curb several cold symptoms and will shorten the length of a cold. Rubbing it on your chest after mixing in a little peppermint oil will clear nasal passages so you’ll breathe easier. Ingesting it soothes a sore throat and reduces coughing.

A man handing a pregnant person a hot drink
oliveromg / Shutterstock

Treat a cold immediately

During normal times, you might just wait a cold out or not worry if it lasts a few days longer than you’d like. But if you are pregnant, you need to get the cold under control as soon as you notice the first symptom.

It could lead to worse sicknesses

Because the immune system is lowered while pregnant, any illness that hangs around for too long could harm the growing baby. A regular cold could develop into bronchitis or pneumonia, creating complications. Don’t wait to start treating your cold.

When to call the doctor

If you have tried all the home remedies and your cold seems to be getting worse instead of better, call your obstetrician. Fever or a heavy, persistent cough are red flags it’s time to call the doctor. When home remedies for colds during pregnancy aren’t working, there are medicines to take that are safe for you and baby. Make an appointment to see your obstetrician because you don’t want a simple cold to turn into something worse.

Having a cold when you’re pregnant is definitely different from what you’re used to. You can’t just reach for what’s in your medicine cabinet or on the shelves of your local pharmacy. Home remedies for colds during pregnancy will alleviate symptoms and shorten the length of the illness. Tea with honey, chicken soup, and gargling with salt water are all home remedies for colds that actually work. Try these first when you feel a cold coming on, but remember, they work extra well when you put on The Price is Right in the background.

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Sarah Prager
Sarah is a writer and mom who lives in Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, National…
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