Fertility · Food as medicine · Natural remedies · Pregnancy · Uncategorized

Pregnancy-safe Cold/Flu Remedies

Hellooo friends! I’ve been taking a break from blog/social media things this month and have been focusing more on getting my nutrition business started. It’s still a process but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve learned, what I’ve decided on, and I’ve definitely taken a few steps forward. Doing the biz thing while doing the mom thing is not always doable, but I’ll get there. Over the next month or 2, there should be some big changes to the website!

As a follow up to a previous post of cold/flu prevention methods, here’s the  remedy post full of cold and flu remedies that are safe during pregnancy. Unfortunately, even our best efforts to avoid falling ill may fail and we are left down for the count. During pregnancy, it’s important to be sure those remedies are safe for both you and your growing bundle of joy.

Reach for:

Garlic – Raw garlic is an antioxidant and has powerful antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. During the event of a cold or flu, it also provides decongestant and expectorant benefits. If you can’t manage to get raw garlic down the hatch, you can add it to a cooked meal, such as spaghetti sauce. Just add it in at the very end and avoid actually cooking it to ensure it doesn’t lose those healing qualities.

Elderberry – Elderberry syrup is easy to make and easier on the wallet than purchasing a ready-made bottle, but having either one on hand is very helpful in overcoming a cold or flu. It is very supportive of the immune system and has been shown to decrease the duration of these illnesses by about 3 days. **Use this with caution. Many mamas have used this for flu symptoms with success, however, as I mentioned in the previous post, sometimes during pregnancy the immune system can overreact to the flu causing complications. If this is the case, elderberry may make things worse. Elderberry syrup is safe for almost the whole family. Since most syrups are made with honey, be sure not to give this syrup to a child under 1 year of age.

Hydration – Staying hydrated is important for everyone everywhere, and sickness is no exception. Proper hydration supports the lymph system in getting rid of junk in the body, ensures good blood flow to do the same, moistens the bronchioles to help with breathing, thins mucous, and helps regulate body temperature. *Tip: add a pinch of sea salt for extra minerals and to ensure your body can properly hold on to and use that water.

Rest – Trying to do all the things while you’re battling a cold or the flu is never a good idea. Even Daniel Tiger will tell you “When you’re sick, rest is best”. Give your body the rest it needs to fight off “those bad guys”, as I tell my kids when they just want to play even though they can’t breathe and are dripping snot all over the house. Just rest.

Bone broth – Bone broth is amazing for basically everything. I’m starting to think it’s like the liquid gold for adults. (Breastmilk being the liquid gold for the babes.) Chock full of minerals, it’s an excellent hydrator and supportive of the immune system.

Ginger – We’re talking fresh ginger root here, not ground ginger from the spice rack. Ginger is basically a superfood when it comes to the flu. It’s got antiviral and antibacterial properties. It can help ease nausea and stomach discomforts. Ginger also has analgesic properties which can be helpful for easing the body aches and headaches associated with the flu. There’s the added benefit from gingerol that promotes perspiration and flushing out toxins. Ginger can also help to loosen mucous and ease expectoration. Seriously, if you’re sick or think you’ve been exposed to something, get to the store and grab some ginger root!

Lemon – Fresh squeezed lemon juice is full of immune supportive vitamin C and minerals. It’s also antibacterial and has the ability to help loosen mucous, and is supportive of the liver in getting rid of all toxins.

Raw honey – Good old fashioned raw honey (even better if local) is amazing for soothing a sore throat and cough. Raw honey also has antiviral properties which is helpful since both the common cold and influenza are viruses. It’s really important, however, to be sure you’re using raw honey. Basic honey found in grocery stores are processed, refined, and pasteurized. Some have even been found to contain corn syrup and/or glyphosate. *Honey is not intended for babies under 1 year of age.

Vitamin D – Many people don’t think about vitamin D for immune support but it’s actually amazing and so necessary! Vitamin D levels are naturally lower in the fall and winter, which not so coincidentally is also “cold and flu season”. As with any supplement, aim for a high quality one, preferably whole food. One I take is by Garden of Life Raw Vitamin D3. *For best results, take vitamin D in combination with vitamin A as in a high quality cod liver oil supplement, which is a great supplement to include during pregnancy anyway.

Vitamin C – Everyone seems to run to vitamin C with illness, and while the intention is a good one, chances are they’re not running to vitamin C. They’re running to ascorbic acid. I went over this in the first colds post so I’ll spare you the repetition but the Cliff’s notes version is “don’t take ascorbic acid”.  Go for fresh bell peppers, citrus fruits, and broccoli for real food vitamin C. *It’s imperative that you do NOT take ascorbic acid during pregnancy, particularly in high doses to kick a cold in early pregnancy, because this has been linked with miscarriage.  Also, be sure to only do the high dosage for a short time. Excessive regular vitamin C intake in late pregnancy may leave your baby born with scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency, because the fetus has gotten used to gettingso much vitamin C that anything less than that will act as a deficiency in the baby.

Zinc – Zinc is another one well known to decrease the duration of a cold or flu. Taking 23-30 mg per day while actively fighting off a cold or flu, can significantly decrease the duration and symptoms of the illness. (Otherwise, load up on some oysters!) Be sure to only do this for a few days because excessive zinc can cause an imbalance with copper and may cause other health problems.

Essential oils – I have had success reducing the duration of colds with the use of essential oils. However, I am not a certified aromatherapist and will not advise on EO use. Please consult with a certified aromatherapist on proper usage of essential oils, especially during pregnancy


Sugar and refined starches – Sugars and refined starches can suppress the immune system because during illness, the body wants to reach for vitamins and minerals for help, but will grab the glucose instead. There’s no actual value to the immune system coming from glucose so it’s left defenseless when there’s an overload of sugar. Sugar also depletes your magnesium which is necessary in the body during illness because colds and flu are a stressor on the body and magnesium helps manage stress.

Damaged oils – Here are these rancid fats again! They just really don’t do anyone any good, including during times of illness. Illnesses are a type of inflammation in the body, and these damaged oils, like canola oil or vegetable oil, are inflammatory. Consuming these, especially  while sick, can prolong the illness by promoting the inflammation.

A note on medications:

Acetominophen (Tylenol) – This common pain reliever and fever reducer has long been touted as safe to take during pregnancy. However, use caution if you decide to reach for this medication. It is currently being studied to know if taking acetominophen during pregnancy might be linked to behavioral problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, asthma, or a condition called cryptorchisism in male fetuses (a condition where one or both testicles don’t descend). More research is needed to verify the link between acetominophen and any of these conditions.

NSAIDS (Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen) – While this over the counter pain reliever can be helpful in reducing body aches, headache, and fever, this category of medication is not recommended during pregnancy, particularly during the third trimester. The result can be a decrease in amniotic fluid, which decreases the baby’s cushion/protection and can increase the likelihood of cord compression during labor.

Other medications specifically for cold symptoms – Use with caution. In fact, use caution with all medications, especially during pregnancy. Studies are limited when it comes to the effects of medications on a fetus and many medications that may be recommended for cold ailments during pregnancy are classified as Category B or C. Here is an excellent resource with easy-to-read tables explaining the categorization as well as different types of cold medications broken down into risk per trimester.

Should you feed a cold?

The old saying is “Feed a cold, starve a fever”. This may not be in your best interest though. Digestion is pretty high on the body’s list of priorities. So if there’s a bunch of food to digest during a nasty cold, your body may have to put the “fighting off the cold virus” aside to take care of digestion. Of course your body needs enough sustenance to maintain functions, but eating extra at this time is not a good idea. Focus on foods that are high quality, nutrient dense, and easy to digest. Foods like bone broth, for example, and the foods listed above in the “Reach for” section.

My personal favorite drink for illness:

When I’m feeling under the weather, I always want a warm drink. Always. The one I always turn to first is a simple one, but delicious. And I do seem to kick the ick so much faster, in comparison to my family members who won’t drink it. No joke. My husband actually had a cold for several days. As soon as I was feeling not so great, I went to bed for the night early and had this drink the next morning, which just so happened to be today. I currently have no symptoms of a cold and he’s still coughing and sniffling! I’ll continue to offer him this drink though. 😉

-Warm/hottish water (not too hot because you dont want to destroy all the goodness in the other ingredients) – I use our water boiler on the delicate setting, 160 degrees.

-Juice from a fresh squeezed lemon

-Couple teaspoonsful of organic raw local honey

-1″ piece of peeled fresh ginger root, cut into 2-3 pieces

-Pinch of sea salt for extra minerals

Add the lemon juice, honey, ginger, and salt to the warm water, letting it steep for several minutes. Enjoy and reap the benefits.

In good health,

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