Pregnancy can come with so many of its own challenges – morning sickness, needing to wee constantly, body aches, unable to sleep, and constipation just to name a few. The last thing you want to be dealing with is a pesky cold or flu. So, what are some ways to boost your immune system while pregnant?
It is particularly common to have a lower immune system during pregnancy. Some women may even experience multiple bouts of the common cold.
Unfortunately, most over-the-counter medications and remedies for treating the common cold and flu are NOT safe to be taken during pregnancy. This is why it is a good idea to try and prevent colds or reduce their severity by boosting your immune system (particularly during winter) with pregnancy-friendly supplements.
Here are 5 ways to boost your immune system when pregnant
1. Immune Boosting Supplements
Some you could consider include: zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D. These can sometimes all be found in one immune supplement so make sure you chat with your pharmacist or health practitioner to get the best combination for you.
Both Zinc and Vitamin C are well known for helping support the immune system. Vitamin C also has the added benefit of helping produce energy and therefore may reduce tiredness and fatigue! Exactly what every pregnant woman wants and needs.
Vitamin D is important for a healthy immune system and it can help moderate our inflammatory responses to infections. It is particularly important during winter because we get less sun exposure and this is required to help make vitamin D in the body. In fact, studies show that up to 39% of the population can have sub-optimal levels over the winter months.
You can listen to our podcast on vitamin D here.
2. Pregnancy Probiotics
Evidence is increasing for its role in supporting the immune system. This is because over 70% of the immune system is located within the gut! Our little gut bugs (microbiome) are able to send signals to the brain to fire up the immune system and fight off unwanted illnesses.
In addition to their benefit on the immune system, probiotics also help support regular bowel motions, and a healthy vaginal environment.
3. Personal Hygiene
We should all be experts now when it comes to personal hygiene and reducing the spread of germs, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. The only problem is, we can sometimes become a little complacent when it comes to executing them.
So remember, to reduce your risk of catching a cold…
- Avoid touching your nose, face and eyes as this is a potential route of infection
- Wash your hands before you eat, and after you go to the toilet.
- Learn how to wash your hands correctly. You’d need to sing Happy Birthday to yourself-Twice! To ensure good washing.
- Soap and water are as good as hand sanitiser, if you wash thoroughly.
- Drink out of your own cups.
It might also be a good idea to avoid big crowds or being in places that have a lot of people and not great air ventilation.
4. Rest as best as possible
Ok so we admit getting good sleep when you are pregnant can be a massive feat within itself. But getting good rest is key to keeping a strong, healthy immune system. A tired or rundown body doesn’t usually fight off illness as well as a well-rested one.
If you are really having trouble getting good rest, magnesium supplementation may help. Muscle tension, cramping and discomfort during pregnancy, particularly in the 3rd trimester is a common cause of sleeplessness. Magnesium supplementation can potentially help ease some of your muscle tension and help with getting a better night’s sleep.
5. Flu vaccination
It is highly recommended pregnant women get the annual flu shot to prevent influenza virus. The influenza virus is much more troublesome than the common cold. If you catch the flu during pregnancy it can put you at higher risk of complications and potential hospitalisation.
Getting the vaccine while pregnant also means you can help protect your newborn baby from catching the flu as well. Babies under 6 months are unable to get this vaccine but you can.
Remedies if you catch a cold
If you come down with a minor cold, make sure you drink plenty of fluids, rest, and get your partner, friend or family member to cook you some nutritious wholesome meals with lots of veggies to support your immune system.
There are a few over-the-counter medications that may assist with your symptoms but you should let your pharmacist know you are pregnant before starting anything to ensure its safety.