Sniffling & Sneezing Your Way through Colds & Flu when Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Disclaimer: This page houses important information and resources pertaining to colds and the flu during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, including links to our evidence-based Fact Sheets. However, the resources here should not replace the care and advice of a medical professional.
The common cold may have you looking for medications you can use to treat symptoms such as cough, sore throat, congestion, sneezing, and fever. Over-the-counter products that you normally reach for without a second thought may now give you pause when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Although many cold medications are not expected to increase pregnancy or breastfeeding risks with short-term use, some medications may be preferred over others. Always talk to your healthcare provider before taking any medications, and check out our resources if you’re looking for information about a specific active ingredient.
“Normal changes in the immune system that occur during pregnancy may increase your risk of flu complications. You also have a higher risk of pregnancy complications, such as preterm labor and preterm birth, if you get the flu. You are more likely to be hospitalized if you get the flu while you are pregnant than when you are not pregnant. Your risk of dying from the flu is increased as well.”— American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Getting sick with the flu in any trimester of pregnancy can be quite serious. Being pregnant increases the chance of having a more severe case of the flu, which could lead to pregnancy complications. If you think you have the flu, talk to your healthcare provider right away about the safest ways to treat your symptoms. Also keep in mind that when it comes to the flu, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure! The flu shot is recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women to protect both mom and baby. Studies of thousands of pregnancies from all over the world have found no increased chance for birth defects or other pregnancy complications from the flu shot.
Reference: Food & Drug Administration
Please see our library of resources below on colds and flu exposure during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Related Fact Sheets
Related Baby Blogs
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: The Flu Vaccine and Pregnancy
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Breastfeeding & Influenza (Flu)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Cold versus Flu
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Flu & Pregnant Women
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Flu Vaccine Safety and Pregnancy
- March of Dimes: Influenza (Flu) and Pregnancy
- What To Expect: Breastfeeding When You’re Sick
- What To Expect: Colds during Pregnancy
- What To Expect: Flu during Pregnancy: What You Need to Know to Stay Safe
- Patient Education Genius
- Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine
- Society for Birth Defects Research & Prevention