When you’re pregnant, your body’s immunity is weakened and it’s easier to fall ill.
And when you do get ill, it can be doubly unpleasant because you can’t take medicine to feel better. Better than the cure, therefore, is prevention.
Your body suppresses its immune system as soon as you conceive so that you don’t reject the foreign body growing inside you. Add to this the extra strain your body is under and the fatigue you might be feeling (particularly in the first trimester and things like morning sickness), and it’s no surprise that pregnant women are at greater risk of succumbing to colds and flu than other people.
But there are several things you can do to steer clear of bugs and protect yourself from illness:
First, make sure you’re eating well – consuming lots of fresh vegetables (especially the green, leafy kind) and fruit – and taking a prenatal vitamin. Also make sure you get plenty of rest.
Your body is going to need more sleep to compensate for all the energy being spent on growing a baby! The first trimester in particular is a time when your body is adapting to massive hormonal and physical changes.
Exercise is vital for good health. Exercise increases the happy hormone dopamine – important when you might be experiencing dramatic mood swings. It also helps to boost immunity by flushing toxins, while also improving blood flow around the body. Exercise also helps reduce stress. Try gentle exercise like yoga or pilates and feel the difference it makes.
Fight the bugs
Colds and flu are easily spread via contact with sick people, so try to avoid anyone who is ill while you are pregnant and take extra precautions to kill germs and disinfect surfaces. Wash your hands frequently with antibacterial soap and carry antibacterial wipes in your bag. Most germs are spread through hand to mouth contact (you might touch a door handle, for example, pick up a cold germ and then touch your mouth with your hand), so it’s important that you minimise this risk by following simple hygiene precautions.
A word of warning…
If you’re normally a fan of herbal remedies for warding off colds and other illnesses, take care to check any contraindications for pregnant women. Some herbs are not safe for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
Remember that everything that goes into your body is affecting your child. Catching a cold or flu or any other kind of illness isn’t necessarily going to harm your baby, but anything you can do to keep a strong immune system is going to help your baby.