Cough, cough, sniffle, sniffle, it’s that time of year again! Cold and flu season is officially upon us and it has been a bad one so far. It can be especially difficult during pregnancy when one might already feel tired and run-down.
One popular myth is that your immune system becomes suppressed during pregnancy, to prevent you from rejecting the fetus. This is misleading and not entirely true. Your immune system undergoes a series of complex modifications; this immune modulation helps prevent an attack from foreign invaders while building tolerance to your fetus. Depending on your stage of pregnancy, you may actually be more or less susceptible, to certain pathogens. When it comes to prenatal care for my patients, my ultimate goal to keep mom and baby as healthy as possible throughout each trimester. Let’s focus on my top tips for staying well this winter.
- No Highchair Surfing- As tempting as it is, try to avoid sharing food or drinks with other young children in your home. Daycares and schools can be a cesspool for germs, which are easily be passed to other family members. Just the other day my adorable, but snotty-nosed nephew kindly gave me a piece of his banana. No surprise that I woke up with a sore throat. Don’t share food. Don’t share utensils. Don’t go surfing for leftovers on the highchair. Trust me, just don’t.
- Wash your hands- Despite the plethora of cold and flu products available on the market, simply washing your hands is still one of the best, if not the most important thing you can do to prevent yourself from getting sick. Rub hands together vigorously with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds and then rinse using clean running water.
- Test Your Vitamin D- Vitamin D is incredibly important for the immune system. In fact, low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy have been linked to a number of poor outcomes including increased risk for bacterial vaginosis, recurrent pregnancy loss due to cellular autoimmunity, and impaired immune cell function. Your Family Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor can test your Vitamin D levels using a blood test. This can help guide dosing and ensure you are taking the appropriate amount during your pregnancy.
- Consider Echinacea- Echinacea is a wonderful natural remedy for colds and flu prevention. It is something that is best taken continuously during the entire cold and flu season and is safe during pregnancy. Speak to your Naturopathic Doctor to determine if echinacea is something you might benefit from.
- Rest, rest, rest. Your body needs to recover and it needs rest. Focus on making sleep a priority. Be sure to stay hydrated, coconut water and bone broth are both great options.
- Be aware that some over-the-counter (OTC) medications are not recommended during pregnancy. Before you reach for your typical cold and flu medications, check with your pharmacist, midwife, or primary care provider first. Although OTC medications do not require a prescription, this does not necessarily mean they are safe during pregnancy. If in doubt, ask.
This post was originally published in January 2020 in conjunction with the lovely team at Helping Hands Doula.
If you find yourself constantly getting sick and feeling run-down, this could be a sign that your immune system needs more in-depth and personalized support. I recommend speaking to your Doula Team or feel free to Contact Me with your questions.