How to Get Rid of a Cough During Pregnancy

Medical review: Dr. Sheila Sedicias
Gynecologist
November 2021

Coughing during pregnancy is normal and can occur at any time due to hormonal changes. These changes can make a women a bit more sensitive to allergies, or more prone to catching respiratory viruses.

To relieve coughing during pregnancy, avoid prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, and avoid exposure to heavily polluted or dusty places. Pregnant women should also drink about 2 liters of water a day, and are encouraged to drink warm teas, with honey and lemon (which can help relieve coughs naturally).

If a cough does not resolve over time, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms (like fever or shortness of breath), consult your doctor to identify the possible cause and start appropriate treatment.

How to relieve a cough naturally

Ensuring your throat is moisturized is key for reducing and managing coughs. Some additional tips that can help relieve excess coughing during pregnancy are:

  • Taking sips of water (preferably water that is at room temperature)
  • Swallowing 1 spoonful of honey
  • Inhaling steam from a basin of hot water. You can also add 2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the hot water

A useful tip for pregnant women who experience coughing at night is to hug a pillow or cushion when coughing, because it lessens the pressure felt with coughing in the abdominal area.

Can cough medications be used?

In some cases, especially when the dry cough is panful and lasts for a long time and pain is felt in the belly, the doctor may prescribe a cough syrup or antihistamine, like cetirizine, for relief.

If the cough is accompanied with phlegm, medication may not be recommended as it reduces the cough and, in this case, it’s important to help eliminate secretions from the lungs and airways.

When to go to the doctor 

Some warning signs that may indicate the need to go to the doctor are:

  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing;
  • Fever
  • Chills or shivering

These signs and symptoms can indicate complications, such as a bacterial infection that requires the use of antibiotics for treatment. The doctor will assess your symptoms and auscultate the your chest, to ensure adequate air entry throughout the lungs. Imaging tests may be ordered to assess whether the cough is being caused by disease or illness.

Does coughing during pregnancy harm the baby?

Coughing during pregnancy doesn't harm the baby, as it isn't a dangerous symptom and the baby doesn't feel it. However, some causes of coughing can harm the baby, such as illnesses like asthma, bronchitis, or pneumonia. Some teas, home remedies, and pharmaceutical products that are taken without the doctor's knowledge can also cause coughing and may be harmful to the baby.

Pregnant women should see a doctor whenever they experience a persistent cough or if signs of a respiratory illness emerge, so that treatment with medications can be safely supervised.

Intense coughing doesn’t cause uterine contractions, nor does it displace the placenta, but it can be very uncomfortable and cause pain in the abdominal muscles when it’s repetitive. Therefore, it is always ideal to seek medical attention if you are coughing, and to rest as much as possible.

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Atualizado por Tua Saude editing team, em November de 2021. Medical review por Dr. Sheila Sedicias - Gynecologist, em July de 2019.
Medical review:
Dr. Sheila Sedicias
Gynecologist
Physician graduated in Mastology and Gynecology by UFPE in 2008 and member no. 17459 of CRM-PE, Brazil.