Colds & Allergies
Few women get through nine months without cold or allergy symptoms. The safest way to go is to try nondrug remedies: Rest, drink lots of fluids -- especially warm ones -- and use a saline nasal spray to help relieve stuffiness. The good news is that while a cold can make you miserable, it poses no special risks during pregnancy. The flu, however, can be more serious in pregnant women, and sometimes results in pneumonia. Since flu shots are safe for both you and baby, it's wise to get one during flu season if you're in your second or third trimester.
If cold or allergy symptoms interfere with your ability to eat or sleep, your healthcare provider may recommend medication, especially if you're past the first trimester. Many doctors believe the antihistamine chlorpheniramine (found in Chlor-Trimeton) is the safest option, as it has been used for many years by pregnant women and isn't known to cause birth defects. Unfortunately, little is known about newer drugs like loratadine (found in Claritin), so it's wise to avoid them.
If you need a decongestant, your doctor may suggest a nasal spray that contains oxymetazoline, (such as Afrin or Dristan Long Lasting), because only a small amount of the drug is absorbed into your system.
To relieve a cough, doctors often recommend a suppressant called dextromethorphan (found in Robitussin and Vicks Formula 44). However, you should avoid cough products that contain iodine, which can cause potentially life-threatening thyroid problems in the fetus, as well as those that contain high levels of alcohol.