Sickness During Pregnancy: How to Deal

Yay, you’re pregnant! You know all the things you need to give up — alcohol, sushi, lunchmeat, chemicals, the list goes on. But what about medicine? Flu season is arguably one of the worst parts of the winter and early spring seasons. And even worse, it doesn’t stop for pregnancy. So when you’re pregnant, what do you do if you’ve come down with a head cold, or worse, the flu? As a first step, talk to your healthcare provider when it comes to sickness during pregnancy. Here are some others things for all you pregnant mamas to consider during cold and flu season. 

Reduce the Risk of Sickness During Pregnancy

First and foremost, it’s easiest to talk about preventative measures. Your body experiences all sorts of changes during pregnancy, and a weakened immunity is one of them. While this has great intentions (so your body doesn’t reject the baby), it leaves you and baby far more susceptible to diseases like colds, the flu or unusual viruses.  

This is a great time to make sure you’re getting the flu shot. According to the CDC, the flu vaccination helps protect pregnant moms and their babies for up to 6 months after birth. Get that shot, mama! Other ways you can protect yourself are to avoid stress, get plenty of sleep and water, wash your hands often and steer clear of anyone that’s fallen ill. If you have to venture out, take every precaution you can to keep your immune system protected. For example, use hand sanitizer on door knobs and surfaces where germs may be hiding. Cover your mouth if you have a cough. Keep a reasonable distance between you and others who may be visibly showing signs of a sickness. Finally, ask yourself whether you really need to venture out right now. When in doubt, remain at home and have someone else do things for you.


Preventing sickness during pregnancy only works up until you’ve gotten sick. So if you’re sick, what can you do? Most OB/GYNs suggest avoiding all medications in your first 12 weeks — this is when baby’s critical development is going on. If you’ve fallen sick in the first 12 weeks, it’s time to talk to your healthcare provider about options, as well as get extra sleep and fluids. This is also the time to avoid leaving home if at all possible. Keeping germs contained is the best prevention for both you and baby, and others you may come into contact with. 

After 12 weeks, the following medications are considered safe:

  • Nasal strips: Unplug those airways.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Take this to relieve those aches, pains and muscle soreness.
  • Calcium-carbonate (Tums): The flu often comes with a lot of nausea–these will help curb it.
  • Menthol rub: Breathe better and feel better by applying this on your chest, temples and under your nose.
  • Cough drops/lozenges: Cough keeping you awake at night? Pop one of these and get back to catching those Zzzs.

Medications you should always avoid during pregnancy include:

  • Aspirin (like Bayer)
  • Ibuprofen: Think Advil or Motrin.
  • Naproxen: This is also  known as Aleve.
  • Codeine: Leave the heavier stuff for after baby.
  • Bactrim: Be sure you aren’t prescribed this antibiotic.

Home Remedies

Do medications during pregnancy make you nervous? We understand. Here are some home remedy options to try instead.

  • SLEEP!  Seriously, we can’t stress this one enough. Getting enough sleep (and then some) can really help speed up your recovery.
  • Get plenty of water. Same here–upping your intake of fluids can help flush out all those toxins and diseases.
  • Facial steamers. The warm, humid air can help free up your nasal passages and curb sore throats.  
  • Honey lemon tea. Adding honey and lemon to decaf tea can do wonders with making you feel like new.

We know pregnancy can be hard enough without adding sickness. When it’s unavoidable, we hope some of these tips will help get you feeling back to normal in no time. As always, it’s so important to keep your healthcare provider up to date on how you’re feeling–they know your pregnancy best.