Give Online: Help shape patient care for generations to come.
Cleveland Clinic Logo

Diseases & Conditions

Colds & Pregnancy

(Also Called 'Colds and Pregnancy - Care & Treatment')

Why are pregnant women more prone to colds and flu?

The immune system is lowered slightly during pregnancy in order to stop a pregnant woman’s body from rejecting the unborn baby. Pregnant women might be more vulnerable to infections, such as coughs, colds, and flu.

What can I do to reduce my risk of getting a cold or the flu during pregnancy?

You can help to boost your immune system by eating a healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. These contain antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, which help to fight infections. Your doctor probably will prescribe a vitamin and mineral supplement specifically formulated for pregnant women. Make sure you get plenty of rest. Try to minimize stress as much as you can. Your immune system is stronger when you do not smoke. Of course, it also is healthier for baby when the mother avoids tobacco during pregnancy.

Is it safe to take over-the-counter cough and cold remedies during pregnancy?

Never buy cough or cold remedies over-the-counter (OTC) without first checking with your doctor about the safety of the products. Many OTC products have not been tested for safety during pregnancy, and could affect your baby's development and health.

Is it safe to take antibiotics during pregnancy?

There are many antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy, but some are not. Make sure your doctor knows that you are pregnant. Never take antibiotics that are left over from a previous prescription, and always finish the medicine that is prescribed to you.

How can I treat coughs and colds safely?

It is safe to use a salt water throat gargle and a saline nose spray. Vapor rubs and cough lozenges are both safe. For fever and pain, use only regular or extra strength Tylenol®. Do not use aspirin, Motrin®, or ibuprofen. These can cause problems with the baby. Getting proper rest and drinking lots of fluids are always recommended to fight a cold, whether pregnant or not. In addition, it is a good idea to:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, to give you the right amounts of vitamins and minerals, carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
  • Try steam inhalation for a cold with a stuffy nose. With a towel over your head, lean over a bowl of hot water with two or three drops of eucalyptus oil added and inhale to help clear the congestion.
  • Prepare a soothing drink of hot water, honey, and lemon to help ease a sore throat.

How can I treat the flu safely?

If you have the symptoms of flu — fever, headaches, chills, body aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite — drink plenty of fluids, especially if you have a fever, to avoid dehydration. Vitamin C-rich fruit juices, such as orange juice, will help you fight off the infection. A drink of hot water, lemon, and honey will help soothe a sore throat. Although you might not have much of an appetite, try to eat something nutritious (such as fruit or wholegrain toast) when you can. Make sure you get plenty of rest.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have a persistent cough or cold/flu-like symptoms that do not seem to be going away, call your doctor as you might have a secondary infection. If you have any concerns about your health, contact a health professional.


American Pregnancy Association. Accessed 5/24/2011

The National Women’s Health Information Center. Healthy Pregnancy. Accessed 5/24/2011

© Copyright 1995-2011 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

Can't find the health information you’re looking for?

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 5/31/2011...#9684