Having a chest infection while pregnant can be a frightening thing. During pregnancy, your first instinct – and your body’s first reaction – is to protect your growing baby. It means that your immune system changes in order to protect your child, and with the immune changes comes problems. This might mean that a common cold quickly turns into a chest infection. Pregnancy indicates that special attention is needed especially when taking medicines.
How to Tell If I Have Chest Infection
A chest infection is just what it sounds like: an infection of the lungs or the airways. Pneumonia, most commonly caused by bacteria, is one of the typical chest infections. Bronchitis, often caused by viruses, is the other most common type.
How do you know if you have a chest infection? Pregnancy won’t mask the symptoms, and in fact might make them more severe. These symptoms include:
- A very persistent cough
- Coughing up thick mucus, or in some cases, blood-tinged mucus
- Shortness of breath or shallow breathing, which might turn to wheezing
- A rapid heartbeat
- A very high fever
- Tightness or pain in the chest
- A feeling of confusion, or being disoriented
There are also more general symptoms of chest infection while pregnant, including headache, more fatigue than usual, no appetite, joint or muscle pain, and sweating when you aren’t exerting yourself.
Home Remedies for Chest Infection in Pregnancy
A chest infection while pregnant can be especially troublesome because many over the counter medications can be bad for your baby. That’s why home remedies for chest infection in pregnancy are so important. Here are a few good things to try.
1. Lemon Water
Lemons tend to cut through mucus and make it easier to breathe – that’s why it is so often an ingredient in cough drops. Squeeze a lemon wedge into a cup of hot water and let it steep for five minutes, then drink the water when it cools enough. You can also gargle with it for added relief.
Speaking of water, drink plenty of it! This thins the mucus in your lungs, which makes a chest infection in pregnancy easier to handle.
3. Ginger Water
Just as with lemon, ginger can help alleviate the congestion in your chest. Add one small piece of ginger to hot water and let it steep. You can also add a bit of pepper. Stir it well, then add a bit of honey for sweetness. Drink this three times a day.
4. Nutritious Diet
Though you might not feel like eating when you have a chest infection, pregnancy demands that you feed your baby as much as possible. Go for fruits and veggies if you have trouble eating anything else. Whole grains are also a good bet.
5. Plenty of Sleep
Resting can help your body recover quickly. Sleep when you want to, always rest on extra pillows to elevate your head and make it easier to breathe.
Medical Treatment for Chest Infection in Pregnancy
Sometimes a chest infection gets too serious to handle with home remedies or even over-the-counter medications. In that case, your doctor might prescribe something powerful to help you alleviate the problem. Here’s what you might be able to take.
It is generally safe to use paracetamol to reduce fever during pregnancy, but use it sparingly. Use only the dosage listed on the packet, or less if your doctor recommends it. Try to take it only when the symptoms are becoming unbearable.
If your chest infection in pregnancy is caused by bacteria, antibiotics can help. Your doctor will determine how many weeks along you are, and then figure out which antibiotics are safe for that stage of your pregnancy.
There are some medicines that you should avoid, no matter how bad your chest infection becomes. Aspirin can be dangerous to your baby, and might even trigger early labor. Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medications are also a big no-no during this crucial time of development. Other medications, such as bactrim, naproxen or codeine, are not recommended during pregnancy.
How to Prevent Chest Infection in Pregnancy
Often a chest infection simply happens and there is little you can do about it. But there are a few ways to make your body healthier and possibly avoid a chest infection.
- Start with good hygiene. Wash your hands quite often and carry a hand sanitizer with you when you go out in public. Use it often to eliminate germs that might lead to an infection. When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and wash your hands as soon as possible.
- You should also consider vaccinations against pneumonia and flu. Getting these vaccinations before you become pregnant is best. Check with your doctor to see if it is okay to get them during your pregnancy, if you haven’t had them before.