When we are expecting a baby our immune system changes along with most other things too. We can get the cold easy and it may take a little longer to get rid off. But the good news is that we can do things to prevent getting a cold as well as some things that will help us deal with a cough and cold that will help you sleep better.
The first thing to realise is that sleep is probably one of the best medicines for curing the cold and your cough. That’s because it gives your immune system the chance to repair itself when we sleep. It also helps the body to fend off viruses before they take hold. In fact sleep also helps you get back to feeling our best too. It helps our body to maximize the infection-fighting antibodies we need. So what options do you have if you are suffering from a cough and cold and pregnant? There are simple strategies that you can do that will help you manage your cough and cold not just during pregnancy but at any time.
Why is a cough worse at night?
During the day we are upright and when we have a cough or a cold our body’s reaction is to swallow more than usual. This actually helps any build up of mucus drain from both our throat and nose. We also are able to keep our airways clear by blowing our nose too. However, when we go to bed we are lying down and it is harder for our body to keep our airways clear as the mucus that would normally drain builds up in the throat. This has the consequence of use breathing through our mouth making it dry and it becomes irritated at the back of the throat causing us to cough. I was told many years ago by my doctor that having a cough is our bodies way of clearing the airways to prevent anything going down the wrong way such as mucus.
Use the Buteyko technique
Pronounced Bu-tay-ko, this is a breathing technique which has been used the world over to ‘improve asthma symptoms, quality of life and reduce the use of a blue inhaler. While this may be for those with asthma I have used it in the past when I have had a cough that is irrating and would waken me at night or stop me from getting sleep.
I often use this technique as part of my bed time routine should I be suffering from a cold and/or cough. There is a whol website devoted to the Buteyko technique however below I have modified it to show you what I do when I have a cough.
- Sit up straight in bed and get comfortable and relax your head and shoulders and any tension you may be holding in your body, relax.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
- Now take shallow breaths and increase these in frequency. Try and maintain this for three or four minutes.
- If you feel the need to cough, slow your breathing down a little and continue to take shallow breaths until you reach your three or four minutes.
- Ideally you should do this for 10 to 15 minutes each night you have a cough.
- If you waken up with a cough during the night, sit up straight and repeat the exercise.
Of course it goes without saying that should you cough persist you should go visit your doctor to get it checked out.
Drink tea with honey
Hot tea with honey is a must to help you breath. The honey does two things, the first is it soothes your throat, secondly it is a cough suppressant too! I also wanted you to know that it is safe to take honey while pregnant however it’s not safe for babies to take honey as it contains a bacteria which can germinate in a baby’s gut.
Take a Hot Shower or bath
If you can take your showers hot, then the hotter the better as the steam can help open your nasal passages. This has the effect of loosening any dried up mucous and clearing your throat so you are ready for a good night’s sleep. You could also opt for a hot bath too and you could put in some essential oils such as lavender to help you sleep too! It’s a great way to relax and unwind if you have had a day where you haven’t been feeling well.
Using a Humidifier
There is nothing worse that having the cold and the air inside is so dry that you can hardly breath! This always happens in the cold season so my advice is to use a humidifier. It helps to add some moisture in to the air and it will also help sooth those dry sinuses. It will certainly help you breathe easier but it will also have the added benefit of helping to stop your throat becoming too dry too. This is the humidifier I use which is available from Amazon.
Sleep on an incline
Lying down can often make our cold feel worse as being horizontal allows the mucus to collect resulting in our cough and sore throat getting worse. To help this you could either prop yourself up with several pillows or you could use a wedge pillow as it will help keep you as upright as you can be and stop the mucus from pooling in your airways. When you are pregnant you also may need extra support so you could opt for placing a pillow between your knees too.
Preparation is key
There are times when I go to bed not very prepared when I have a cough or cold. I end up having to get up during the night and fumbling around in the medicine cabinet or going to the kitchen for a drink. This really does disturb my sleep. So the key is to prepare in advance. Before you go to bed, set out the things you will need on your bedside table. For example, a glass of water, tissues, any medicine you are taking or if you don’t need your extra or wedge pillows when you first go to bed, place them just beside your bed so you can get to them easily if you need them during the night.
keeping yourself hydrated during a cough and cold is very important so make sure you fill up a water bottle and keep it with you at all times. Sipp it during the day as it will also help sooth your cough especially if your throat is starting to get sore with all that coughing. Also keep a glass of water beside you bedside table too.
Avoid sleeping on your back
Sleeping on your back isn’t great for you when you have a cough or cold. Try and sleep on your side and use a pregnancy pillow – either the full body ones or the ones for your between your knees to help you stay in this position. Amazon have some great ones here.
Make your bedroom your sanctuary
When I am feeling under the weather the last thing I want to do is try and get myself comfortable in a room that doesn’t feel comfortable or is messy and cramped. Make sure you bedroom is a haven where you can go and relax and block out the stresses of the day. Make it warm and inviting with a comfy bed, crisp clean sheets, a fluffy blanket. A room which is free from your phone, a TV and laptop! Go there to relax and unwind and take time to concentrate on your breathing and relaxation techniques.
Go to your Doctor
If your symptoms persist and you are concerned please go see your doctor who will be able to advise you on what other options you have.
I hope that if you have a cough or cold that these tips will help improve your sleep and you are well rested.