Getting a cold while you’re pregnant can be extremely uncomfortable. While common colds are usually manageable, many of the symptoms feel especially laborious during your pregnancy. A simple cough can be painful and difficult as your baby bump grows larger. Of course, you’ll try preventing colds by staying healthy, but sometimes they are impossible to avoid. If you get a cold during your pregnancy, you’ll probably wonder what types of cold remedies are safe. Luckily, many of the common ingredients found in cold medicines have been proven safe for you and your baby during your pregnancy. Of course, not all are created equally, so you should find out which ingredients are used in the medicine you’re thinking about taking.

Some cold medicine contains antihistamines to alleviate allergy symptoms, and most of these have been proven safe to consume during your pregnancy. However, these may cause drowsiness, so beware of taking it before long trips in the car.

If the medicine contains a cough suppressant, make sure it is dextromethorphan. Numerous studies have shown that this compound does not cause any fetal abnormalities or birth defects in babies born to mothers who took it.

If you have a sore throat, you might want to take a local anesthetic. Make sure the anesthetic is called benzocaine, because it will not go into your blood stream. Anything that goes into your blood stream will go directly to your baby, so such chemicals should be avoided.

Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer that has been proven safe for pregnancy. If you have a fever during your pregnancy, take acetaminophen right away, because a high body temperature could have seriously negative side effects on your baby. If your fever doesn’t go down, contact your health care provider immediately.

You should avoid decongestants such as phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine during your pregnancy, as they have been proven to cause numerous birth defects. Also, avoid NSAIS such as aspirin and ibuprofen. If you’re confused at all about what types of cold remedies are safe to take during your pregnancy, speak with your health care provider before taking anything. Taking the wrong type of medicine could seriously harm your baby, so it’s better to be sure. However, you don’t have to live with the discomfort of a common cold during your pregnancy. Cold medication is safe as long as you know which type of it to take.

Source: Eda Erebara et al: Treating the Common Cold During Pregnancy. Canadian Family Physician Volume 54 Issue 5 687-689 May 2008