How to Get Rid of a Cough During Pregnancy

A cough during pregnancy can be caused by a flu, a cold, sinusitis or allergic rhinitis. Pregnant women undergo hormonal changes that make them more sensitive to allergic substances and more prone to developing viral or bacterial infections, and therefore coughing can occur at any stage of pregnancy.

To treat coughing when pregnant, you can drink lemon tea with ginger and honey, as this tea contains antimicrobial properties that help to keep the throat hydrated and relieve nausea, vomiting and cold or flu symptoms.

If you are pregnant and have a long-lasting cough or a cough that presents with other symptoms, such as a fever, chills or shortness of breath, you should consult your OBGYN to diagnose the underlying cause and initiate treatment as appropriate.

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Possible causes

The main causes of coughing during pregnancy are:

  • Cold or flu
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Sinusitis
  • Pharyngitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis or bronchial asthma
  • COVID-19

Another cause of coughing during pregnancy is GERD, which commonly occurs due to normal hormonal changes and fetal growth.

Also recommended: How to Get Rid of Heartburn During Pregnancy Fast (6 Methods)

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 throughout the day (preferably water that is at room temperature)
  • Drinking one cup of lemon tea with honey
  • Drinking one cup of ginger tea with honey
  • 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.

Check-out other ways you can get rid of a nocturnal cough

Can cough medications be used?

In some cases, especially when the dry cough is painful 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.

Learn more about what different phlegm colors can mean. 

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.

Does coughing lead to placental abruption?

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 persistently coughing, and to rest as much as possible.