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Cough During Pregnancy

Jul 25, 2020

Your immune system becomes weak during pregnancy, and that makes you susceptible to many infections. Among other issues, an episode of cough is quite common. Many women start to worry because cough during pregnancy makes their belly shake. The problem is that most women do not want to take over-the-counter and prescription medications during pregnancy because it could be potentially harmful to the fetus. While safe medication choices are available, you should work with a medical professional to resolve the issue.

Cough During Pregnancy: Will It Hurt My Baby?

In most cases, the answer is no. Many women ask if cough during pregnancy can be harmful to the baby, especially when the symptom last for prolonged period of time. The truth is that although your baby will feel your tummy move up and down while coughing, it does not hurt them physically. The amniotic fluid works as a shock absorber and protects your baby from vibrations, noises, and the pressure caused by coughing. If you feel you strain your tummy muscles a bit too much, you can use your hand to hold your tummy and support your lower abdomen.

While cough during pregnancy may not be harmful to your baby, it may indicate other underlying health conditions, such as allergies, asthma, or a lung infection. These conditions can affect your health, which will ultimately affect your baby. Therefore, it is important to talk to your doctor to rule out the possibility.

Why Do I Cough During Pregnancy?

It is not easy to suppress your cough because it is a reflex action to clear your airways of irritants and mucus. You do not usually need any medication because it happens due to a viral infection that will clear up within 2 weeks. A viral infection is likely to develop because your immune system is busy protecting your baby, and that makes you susceptible to illnesses. There may be some other causes for cough during pregnancy, for instance:

  • If you have allergies, irritants in the air may affect your breathing passages and cause coughing.
  • You may experience breathing difficulties with unproductive coughs if you have asthma.
  • You may experience cough during pregnancydue to bronchospasm, which means the muscles of the bronchioles are over-active. It occurs due to an allergic reaction to insect bites or certain foods. You are more at risk if you have asthma, chronic bronchitis, or anaphylaxis.
  • Rhinitis during pregnancy is another condition that may lead to coughing. It is common for women to experience congestion throughout their pregnancies, and that could cause coughing. An increase in estrogen levels may also lead to the swelling of mucous membranes around the nose, which contributes to the congestion.
  • Whooping cough is a type of infection that is characterized by violent coughing. It is called whooping cough because you make a whooping sound when you breathe in after coughing. It is therefore a good idea to receive the Tdap vaccine between the 27th and 36th weeks of pregnancy, which will also provide protection against the condition to your baby for the first couple of month after birth.

What Can I Do to Relieve Cough During Pregnancy?

Home Remedy

If you are worried about coughing, you may want to take some steps to make your condition more manageable.

  • You need to stay hydrated during pregnancy. If you have dry, irritating cough, you may find some relief from hot water with lemon. Honey mixed in hot water may also help, but you should talk to your doctor before trying this option.
  • Hard candy may help prevent coughs. Cough drops are also effective, but be sure to ask your doctor if you can use those drops during pregnancy.
  • Your coughing episodes may become worse when you lie down. It is important to keep your head elevated by putting something under your pillow.
  • Limit your exposure to potential irritants, such as dust, cleaning products, perfumes, dust, or other agents.
  • Maintain a balanced diet and add more fruit and vegetables to your daily consumption.
  • Get plenty of rest during pregnancy. Take short naps during the day and sleep through the night.


When you do not find relief after trying home remedies and making lifestyle changes, you may want to treat cough during pregnancy with medication. Just keep in mind that you cannot take all those medicines that you might otherwise be taking when you were not pregnant. Even the medicines you take for common cold are not safe during pregnancy. The following medicines may help control your cough, but it is important to talk to your doctor before taking them.

  • You can use anesthetic throat lozenges that are quite effective for sore throat. They help ease the pain in a short time.
  • You can use cough suppressants such as dextromethorphan and codeine.
  • You can also take paracetamol, but you should avoid aspirin, nurofen, and ibuprofen unless your doctor recommends them.

Before using any medication, you should always read the packet and pay attention to the instructions. Some of these medicines are not safe to use in the first 3 months of pregnancy.

When to See a Doctor

You should talk to your doctor if your cough during pregnancy is making it difficult for you to eat or sleep. You should also see your doctor if your cough does not improve in a couple of days. Consult your doctor if you also have a fever higher than 102°F (38.9°C). If you are coughing up discolored mucus, or your coughing is accompanied by chest pain or wheezing, make sure to contact your doctor as it might be a sign of infection and requires antibiotic.