AACK…being sick sucks, and probably never more so then when you are pregnant because your options in terms of medications are more restricted either by yourself or by recommendations from your doctor. Unfortunately, given the length of pregnancy (hey it could be worse, elephants are pregnant for 22-months!) chances are you will likely get pregnant at least once (although we hope you don’t!)
I came down with a cold at week 25, and it was the mother of all colds. I’ve never had a simple cold last this long before in my life. I’m at week 27 and 2-days and I’d say I still have another few days before I’m completely recovered. My symptoms: it started with a crazy sinus infection where I had to blow my nose constantly, and then morphed into a dry-ish cough that kept me up at night making it hard to sleep and therefore hard to get well. Here were my steps for avoiding traditional drugs on the path to recovery while pregnant.
Take time to get well: I think the main reason I’ve been sick for so long is that with my work it was really difficult to take the time off to get well right in the beginning. I was able to take a few days off, then had to work for a few, and then took a few more off. If I had been able to “nip it in the bud” with a solid 5-days off right in the beginning, I wouldn’t still be sick now. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury, but if you do, you should take advantage of it!
Sinuses: In the beginning I had Niagara Falls coming out of my nose, which made the days a chore and sleeping difficult. Fortunately, my husband is a big fan of nose “irrigation” and it helped a lot. I found the only way I could get any sleep at night was to get up every few hours, blow my nose, irrigate my nose, put some essential oils (like eucalyptus) under my nose and then I could get a few hours of sleep. While not fun getting up 3 or 4 times a night, the first couple of days before I figured out this routine I got almost no sleep which was much worse. I like to use the xylitol-enhanced product called Xlear as my nose irrigation of choice and SumBody’s Sinus Zapper as my nasal opening essential oil blend. Breathing in steam also helped, either by taking a warm bath or shower or by holding my head, covered with a towel, over a pot of hot water.
Dry-ish Cough: After Niagara Falls cleared up, the next big issue was a horrible dry-ish cough. I say dry-ish because I didn’t have a sore throat or lots of phlegm, but it seemed like some really thick phlegm would build up from the day and settle in my throat at night and if I couldn’t get it out (through those incredibly unladylike sounds that you have to make when “hocking a loogie”) then it would tickle my throat all night long. Sometimes the nose irrigation would help to get the phlegm out, but more often than not it didn’t and I would stay up all night hacking. My midwives said that the non-PM version of Robitussin is safe, but that in their opinion, a teaspoon of straight honey can be just as effective, and guess what…the honey won HANDS DOWN. So brilliant. The straight honey soothed my throat the most of everything I tried (Robitussin, lozenges, teas) and allowed me to sleep at night. Once I started sleeping regularly I could tell I was getting better every day and that I wasn’t going to get sicker which made me feel better mentally. My worst nightmare was getting bronchitis, or something more serious that would “require” antibiotics (I haven’t taken antibiotics for years and I do everything I can to avoid taking them.)
Herbs/Teas/Remedies: Despite the fact that one of my pregnancy books has peppermint oil listed as a “no-no” (what I read is that it can be problematic for someone who has suffered a miscarriage previously) my midwife said that peppermint oil is not only okay but fantastic and that I should absolutely include it in my “get well” regimen. Basically I drank Traditional Medicinals “Seasonal Herb Tea Sampler” like it was going out of style. The 4-tea sampler includes Gypsy Cold Care, Throat Coat, Echinacea and Breathe Easy and I alternated them all day long. I also used Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Herbal Pastilles and Ricola Traditional Flavor lozenges which also provided some relief for my cough. I also drank lots of hot water with lemon and honey, and ate a garlic clove after every meal (don’t do it on an empty stomach, it can be painful!) I also took 3-doses a day of Boiron’s Oscillococcinum. I was told at some point that all homeopathic remedies are safe for pregnant women, but check with your medical professional. All of these products are available at your local health food store or online. In addition to the above remedies, I also ate lots of fresh fruits high in Vitamin C and whenever I could, would go to my local juice bar and get a 2-ounce shot of wheatgrass.
Thankfully, although my cold lingered, it never got worse and turned into anything that would require antibiotics, so I was happy with that. Here’s to you having a super healthy pregnancy!
My sick shopping list
(for one week)
- A dozen lemons or limes
- A couple of cups of honey (the darker it is, the more antioxidants it has, I like raw buckwheat honey best)
- 1 box of herbal teas (I like Traditional Medicinals Seasonal Sampler)
- 1 box/bag of throat lozenges (I like Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat Pastilles)
- 3 cloves of garlic (make sure it isn’t elephant garlic, which isn’t a true garlic)
- 1-2 bottles of Xlear (or other nasal irrigation product/device)
- 21 doses of Oscillococcinum (or other homeopathic flu/cold remedy)
- A dozen oranges (or other Vitamin C rich fruit)
- Small vial of essential oils to help you breath (I like SumBody’s sinus zapper)
Every person and every pregnancy is different, so be sure to consult your medical professional before making changes to your diet and/or medicine regimes. The information in this article should not be taken as medical advice.
Alegre Ramos is a LEED AP interior designer and green living expert based in the San Fernando Valley. Her store, Green and Greener, is located in Valley Village and online at http://green-and-greener.com. Stay up to date on important green info by signing-up for her Twitter feed http://twitter.com/greenandgreener. Copyright Green and Greener 2010. All rights reserved.