Karabo Mokoena
Content producer
3 minute read
18 May 2021
12:09 pm

How to treat colds and flu during pregnancy

Karabo Mokoena

The last thing a pregnant woman needs is to catch the flu, but during this cold weather, this might be inevitable for many.

Image: iStock

Treating colds and flu during pregnancy is not the most fun when you are prohibited from using the usual over-the-counter medications.

During pregnancy, a woman’s immune system is suppressed, which makes her easily susceptible to catching colds. The suppression, however, helps the baby grow and stay protected.

It is possible to avoid catching colds and flu, but during winter it is a lot harder. Pregnant women can avoid colds and flu by:

  • Avoiding contact with visibly sick people
  • Washing and sanitising hands regularly

Even with social distancing and sanitising, some expecting moms might still catch one of the 200 viruses that cause a cold or, worse, the influenza virus. According to National Health Institute, flu symptoms are much worse than a cold and more sudden.

ALSO SEE: Flu or Covid-19? Parents face tough winter ahead

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) flu symptoms include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle aches and fatigue
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Headaches

If you come down with these symptoms and are pregnant, here are some tips to help relieve your symptoms which might last for five to seven days.


This sounds like an easy solution, but when you are incubating a human and experiencing fatigue, muscle pain and a fever, rest is your answer. Slowing down will help your body, while the opposite may exacerbate your symptoms. The key here is listening to your body. If your level of fatigue and discomforts warrants you slowing down, then do so.


Pumping up on liquids helps retain the liquids you lose when you have a runny nose. These are liquids that your baby needs, so be sure to drink up as often as you can.

Healthy diet

Add foods to your diet that are a source of vitamin C and zinc. Lean meat, eggs and beans are a good source of zinc. Citrus foods such as oranges and grapefruits, broccoli and strawberries are examples of foods that can help you get some vitamin C. Vitamin C foods not only help you bolster your immune system, but help your baby’s bones as well.

Prenatal vitamins

Continue taking your preferred prenatal vitamins which will include vitamin A and C, iron and other nutrients you need during pregnancy.

Saline drops

Some saline drops are recommended during pregnancy to help relieve congestion. Speak to your healthcare provider who can recommend the safest one to use should you experience congestion. Do not purchase over-the-counter medicines without discussing them with your doctor first. Some nasal sprays include oxymetazoline, which some doctors don’t recommend, or advise limited use of.

Honey and lemon

A spoon or two of honey can help with a cough or a sore throat. Honey can be an excellent natural remedy that acts as a cough suppressant. To help relieve a sore throat, mix lemon, honey and warm water.

If you experience any of these symptoms, the CDC recommends that you see a healthcare professional:

  • A fever over 38 degrees and not dropping
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Severe weakness and muscle pain