Pregnancy colds are the same as other colds, but they may feel extra uncomfortable on top of the aches and pains of pregnancy. Because pregnancy can weaken your immune system, they may also occur more frequently and linger longer.

pregnant person with a cold sitting outsideShare on Pinterest
gevende/Getty Images

On average, adults experience two to three colds each year, and this doesn’t stop if you become pregnant. Especially if you’re pregnant over the winter and spring, when colds are more common, you may find yourself coughing or congested while pregnant.

It’s unlikely that a common cold will cause any long-term complications for you or your little one.

But you should notify your doctor if symptoms last for a long time or suddenly become more severe. You’ll also want to double-check with your doctor before taking any cold relief medications to make sure that they’re safe for your baby.

Learn more about the common cold.

The viruses responsible for causing a cold when you’re not pregnant are the same viruses that give you a cold when you are pregnant. So there’s no reason for your cold to be worse when you’re pregnant.

That said, colds may feel worse because you’re already experiencing the aches and pains of pregnancy. You may also have more frequent colds when you’re pregnant because of immune system changes during pregnancy.

A cold during pregnancy will resemble a typical cold, with similar symptoms, including:

  • coughing
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • sneezing
  • fatigue
  • body aches

When to see your healthcare professional

Some viruses or other infections may have more severe symptoms than a virus that causes a common cold. These viruses can result in growth restriction, low birth weight, and prematurity. While they can spread to a fetus at any time during the pregnancy, infections during the first trimester are generally more dangerous.

Contact your healthcare professional right away if you are pregnant with a cold and experience any of the following:

  • a fever over 100.4°F (38°C)
  • any severe or sudden symptoms
  • difficulty breathing
  • symptoms that last more than 10 days
Was this helpful?

Many over-the-counter cold relief medications are considered safe during pregnancy. But it’s still important to check with your healthcare professional before taking any medications or supplements during pregnancy, including “natural” supplements like elderberry syrups or vitamin C.

If you’re looking for relief, you can try some home treatments for colds that are generally considered safe while you are pregnant. These include:

  • gargling with salt water
  • using a humidifier
  • clearing out sinuses with a saline rinse or spray
  • drinking plenty of fluids (including hot water with honey or lemon)
  • getting extra sleep

Most of the time, pregnancy colds do not have long term complications for you or baby.

It is important to keep an eye out for fevers, which can increase the risk of certain conditions present at birth – especially if they occur early in your pregnancy.

In many cases, fevers are also a sign that you may have a more serious health condition like the flu or COVID-19. If you have COVID-19, you will likely be treated with Paxlovid.

Learn more about COVID-19 during pregnancy.

Most colds clear up in 1–2 weeks.

If you have a weakened immune system, it’s especially important to discuss your cold with your healthcare professional since you are at a higher risk of developing pneumonia, bronchitis, or another condition.

Resting, eating nutritious food, and seeking care quickly if your symptoms worsen or persist can help decrease the chance of more serious conditions.

To help prevent a cold during pregnancy, you can:

Is it safe to give birth if I have a cold?

Yes, you can safely give birth with a cold. As with pregnancy, you’ll want to talk with your healthcare professional about any medications you’re taking take to relieve your cold symptoms and whether you can take them during labor.

How do I know if I have the flu instead of just a cold?

It can be hard to tell the difference between a cold and the flu, but cases of the flu tend to have more severe symptoms and be accompanied by a fever. Learn more about the differences between a cold and the flu.

What if my newborn gets a cold?

It’s important to notify your child’s doctor if they develop any illness before they’re 3 months old, especially if they have a fever or lingering symptoms. Many over-the-counter medications are not recommended for newborns, so treatment often focuses on offering comfort. Here’s more information about caring for a newborn with a cold.

When colds happen during pregnancy, they rarely have long-term effects on the birthing parent or baby.

It’s important to notify your doctor if you’re pregnant and have symptoms that linger or suddenly worsen. If you have a fever or issues breathing, it’s important to let a doctor know that, too.

Although many over-the-counter medications are safe for pregnant individuals, it’s important to check with your doctor before taking any drugs to relieve discomfort. Certain home remedies may also relieve your symptoms.