Being pregnant is an awesome and wonderful experience that is one of the most incredible things you will ever do. It is also at times very very hard.
And one of these hard times will be when you are struck down by a seemingly normal illness like cold and flu, and you can’t take any of the normal over the counter remedies for it.
I remember distinctly going into a drugstore when I was obviously big from pregnancy and suffering from a heavy cold. The pharmacist just shook her head at me and said: “You might as well walk back out again; I can’t really give you anything.”
So if you are aching all over and hot with fever, or have a blocked or a runny nose, and are coughing or sneezing, or have a pounding headache with congestion, can you have Mucinex during pregnancy?
Or if you aren’t able to swallow with agony, or are struck down with any of the other many symptoms of cold or flu, and you are pregnant, is there anything you can do?
Mucinex During Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
Can You Prevent Yourself from Getting Sick?
Most of the time, no. Your immune system is reduced because this stops your body from rejecting the growing fetus, so you are more likely to catch bugs and infections. Also when you catch them, you’ll be more severely affected by them.
You can try as much as you can to stay away from sick people and wash your hands as often as you can, but sometimes sickness will get through.
The very best thing you can do is taking a flu vaccination annually to prevent getting sick. Note that this is also safe to do if you are already pregnant, and will provide extra protection for you and your baby.
If you don’t want to do this because you hate needles then we have to warn you, there may be one or two more injections coming up in your pregnancy, so you may as well get used to them now. Note that several vaccines may be harmful to your baby.
Having a cough or cold yourself will not make the baby sick as they will not catch the infection from you. However, taking medication for your illness could affect your growing fetus.
So you need to be aware of this before taking something to help it, even those things that you bought safely over the counter before you were pregnant.
Cold and Flu: What Are They?
A cold is a mild viral infection which affects your head, nose, throat and chest. It has no cure and lasts about a week, so you should reduce the symptoms as best you can and ride it out.
Influenza (or flu) is also a viral infection but is usually more severe and longer than a cold. If you have the flu, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication to reduce your symptoms and the length of time you are unwell.
Can You Take Mucinex While Pregnant?
Mucinex is an oral cough, cold, sinus and allergy medication, expectorant and decongestant. It comes in a number of different forms and can provide great relief from colds and flu. The main ingredients in Mucinex are guaifenesin, dextromethorphan and pseudoephedrine.
Mucinex is not recommended at all for women in their first trimester of pregnancy. We will look at each of the active ingredients.
Guaifenesin is an expectorant, which means it is an aide to relieve chest congestion by loosening mucus in the lungs. It helps you to cough up the excess mucus and breathe easier.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that guaifenesin may cross the placenta and hurt the fetus, including possible neural tube defects and cardiovascular defects, so it is not at all recommended early in pregnancy.
Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant which while it does not appear to have an effect on pregnant women, is not recommended unless it is really needed.
Like a lot of things during pregnancy, if you can suffer through without it then you and your baby are most likely better off.
Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant which works to reduce the stuffiness in your nose by shrinking blood vessels. Again, because it may cause birth defects, it is not at all recommended in the first trimester.
Additionally, although taking Mucinex and other cough and cold remedies should be safe for women in their second and third trimesters, you should discuss this with your physician before doing so.
The recommended dose on the packaging may also be too high for pregnant women, and if you were to consider taking it, you should get your doctor’s advice on the right dose.
Also, you should look carefully at all Mucinex and other cold and flu remedy products. Some of the cough syrups are high in alcohol which you shouldn’t take at any time during your pregnancy or while breastfeeding
13 Tips to Treat Colds and Flu While Pregnant
Here are some things you can try to do to relieve your cold and flu symptoms naturally :
- Get plenty of rest. I know you hate hearing this one over and over, but it is always true; pregnant women would benefit from getting more rest.
- Yell at your partner a lot. In fact, this won’t help reduce your sickness symptoms, but it might make you feel a little better.
- Drink more clear fluids such as water or fruit juices as this may increase your fluid production and loosen the mucus. Hot tea is also good. Stay away from milk drinks generally as this can increase mucus.
- Suck on throat lozenges or ice chips if you have a sore throat.
- Gargle with salt water.
- Give your head a steam bath over a bowl of boiling water, or stand in the shower for a long time, as steam can make it easier for you to breath.
- You can also run a vaporizer in your room while you sleep.
- Use saline nasal sprays and drops.
- Chicken soup (trust me, it’s not just an old wives tale; it’s been scientifically proven to help. And anyway, old wives tend to know what they are talking about).
- Try warm honey with lemon.
- Using hot and cold packs on your head to relieve sinus pain.
- Use an extra pillow when sleeping to help drain the fluids down from your head.
- You can use paracetamol within the recommended dose to relieve pain or fever. As always with this medication, use it at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.
When Should My Flu Symptoms Really Worry Me?
As we’ve said, it’s very common for pregnant women to get a cough or cold, and you can in most situations treat it yourself. However if any of the following happen or persist, you should seek medical help immediately:
- Dizziness or confusion
- High fever that isn’t relieved by safe over the counter products
- Severe vomiting
- Difficulty breathing or chest pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Decreased fetal movement
Remember, if you are concerned about anything, don’t hesitate to speak to your midwife or doctor.
Colds and flu generally bite the big one when you are in the first trimester of pregnancy because you are not allowed to take anything good to relieve your symptoms. This is for the health and development of your baby, so you put up with this willingly if not quietly.
Over the counter medicines like Mucinex can be used after the first 12 weeks have passed, but be very careful that you do so with the support and recommendations of your doctor.
Use the natural remedies detailed above to relieve your symptoms as much as you can, and moreover, get some rest, because you are going to need it.