It’s an unpleasant irony that just at the point when you really least want to be dealing with a cold – during pregnancy – you’re not only more likely to get sick, but the effect pregnancy has on your immune system also means you have an increased chance of staying sick longer. Sometimes colds can’t be avoided, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the tools, possibly already in your refrigerator, to bounce back after them even stronger than you were before!
One of the most important parts of getting through any illness is staying hydrated. During pregnancy, drinking fluids to stay hydrated takes on a whole new significance, because if you give in to a lack of appetite when you’re sick, you risk not getting all of the nutrients your body needs during pregnancy. Fluids can be a great way to deliver some of those nutrients, either through broths and thin soups, or through pure fruit and vegetable juices. It’s true that juices aren’t the ideal way to get your fruits and vegetables in, because the juicing process can concentrate sugars and removes fiber. But juices are significantly better than not getting fruits or vegetables at all for a few days. In addition to being important during pregnancy, nutrients from food are an important part of building up your strength and immune system to recover from illness.
Early and often
Again, if your appetite is low, it’s important to find ways to manage that. One strategy might be to aim for eating smaller meals more often – maybe six small, snack-like meals a day, focusing on one part of the food pyramid at a time. Smoothies and shakes can be key parts of this kind of illness diet, since you can make up a big batch of one or two to keep in the fridge for when you feel ready for them, and not bother with cooking until you feel better. Smoothies and shakes can also be kinder on a sore throat than smaller or deconstructed versions of your regular pregnancy diet.
White blood cell-building
Healthy red blood cells are crucial enough during pregnancy that they usually take center-stage. But when you’re sick, it’s the white blood cells that are such key players in your immune system’s defenses that need a little extra help. Protein isn’t always a part of everyone’s illness-diet, but it’s important for building plentiful, strong white blood cells, so it’s worth the time to make sure you’re getting enough.
Can’t hurt, could help
Whether you roll your eyes at folk remedies or swear by them, there are some foods that just feel and taste good when you’re sick, and some of them even have a certain amount of scientific evidence behind their reputations for healing properties. Chicken soup, for example, is made up of a combination of ingredients that may, when taken together, actually be anti-inflammatory. Ginger, which can be made into something of a tea when cut up fresh and boiled in water, also appears to have anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, a garlic-rich diet was linked to shorter colds. Who knows – if you can put together a ginger-garlic chicken soup together, it may be just what you need to send that cold running.
- “Ch. 17: Nutrition During Pregnancy.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Apr 2015. Web.
- BO Rennard, et al. “Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro.” Chest. 118(4):1150-7. Web. Oct 2000.
- Aida Erebara, MD. “Treating the common cold during pregnancy.” Can Fam Physician. 54(5): 687–689. Web. May 2008.
- “Colds and Flu During Pregnancy.” UMich. University of Michigan Health System, 2017. Web.