Most cold medicines are pregnancy category B, meaning there is no good proof that they are safe, and no good proof that they’re not.
Certain cold medicines such as pseudoephedrine and phenlyephrine are category C, meaning that animal studies have shown a risk to the fetus, but human studies are lacking. There is a chance of fetal harm if the drug is administered during pregnancy, but the potential benefits may outweigh the potential risk.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is good at reducing fever and aches, and is widely considered safe during pregnancy (although it has not been assigned to a preganancy category by the FDA). Ibuprofen, naproxen and other NSAIDS are pregnancy category C. Heated humidified air is safe, and helpful for reducing nasal congestion.
Colds get better on their own. Cold medicines don’t shorten the duration of a cold. And in clinical studies, most cold medicines only reduce symptoms slightly. The cold does not pose any additional risk to the baby.
All pregnant women should get the influenza vaccine during flu season, which is safe for both mother and baby. Catching the flu during pregnancy can be serious. Many obstetricians are comfortable recommending common cold medicines that are probably safe during pregnancy. If you’re too miserable to make it through your cold symptoms, call your doctor and ask what he or she recommends.
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