Pregnancy is an exciting time of transition, full of anticipation and wonder. However, it can also be filled with uneasiness, as the health of both mother and baby are of the utmost importance. Coughing is a common symptom of many illnesses, and can be of particular concern during pregnancy. It is important to understand the potential risks associated with excessive coughing while pregnant, and if it can in fact harm the baby. In this blog post, we will explore the potential effects of excessive coughing during pregnancy and provide guidance related to the best health practices for mothers-to-be.
Can Coughing During Pregnancy Hurt The Baby?
You can likely rest assured. “The baby is encased in the womb surrounded by amniotic fluid, so the process of coughing alone doesnt affect the fetus,” Gaither tells Romper. To ease coughs, there are simple, if temporary, tricks you can try at home. “Hot tea with honey and lemon is a safe and natural remedy for cough,” says Leena Nathan, M.D., assistant clinical professor, department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UCLA Health. “Cough drops are also generally safe in pregnancy.” Certain cough-medicine ingredients, such as guaifenesin and dextromethorphan, may also get the green light for use, Nathan says, it’s important to discuss medications with your healthcare providers.
But this doesn’t mean you should ignore your coughs, either. “It is important to seek medical care for assessment and treatment if a woman is coughing for more than [a] week,” advises Nathan. “The cough itself will not hurt the baby in utero. But the condition that’s causing the cough can be dangerous,” warns Nathan. For instance, if an asthmatic woman’s cough prevents her from getting enough oxygen, the baby may suffer as a result. ”.
What Might Make You Cough More During Pregnancy?
Putting the common cold aside for a moment, coughing might actually be something you experience more during your trimesters. “Coughing in pregnancy can be frequent due to the physiologic changes that accompany gestation,” says Kecia Gaither, M.D., director of perinatal services in the Bronx’s NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, who is double board-certified in OB/GYN and Maternal Fetal Medicine. So if some of the changes you’re experiencing do make you more prone to coughing, that could mean you might be doing more of it than usual if you have a cold, the flu, or allergies.
What Cough Medicine Is Safe for Pregnancy?
Sadly, there is not a lot of research on the use of cough and cold medications during pregnancy. The effectiveness and safety of medications during pregnancy generally require more research, according to Bratschie.
Plus, research has repeatedly shown that common over-the-counter medications don’t do much to relieve coughs on their own. However, if do want to try taking an over-the-counter option, Phillips notes that there are certain cough medicines generally considered safe for pregnancy, including:
Avoid cough syrups that contain alcohol or a lot of sugar, Phillips advises. Before beginning any new medication or supplement during pregnancy, always consult your physician.
Can a cough harm my unborn baby?
When should I be concerned about coughing during pregnancy?