By Jackie Edwards:
Recent birth rates show that most babies are born in September, making the month of December the highest for conception. Both September and December coincide closely with cold and flu season. Whether you’re new to pregnancy or you’ve just had your bundle of joy, having a sore throat and stuffy nose is aggravating even under normal circumstances, let alone with the added stress of pregnancy or nursing. Luckily, new and expecting moms have a plethora of options to help combat and treat these common ailments, some of which can even be made with ingredients from your own garden.
First Things First
When you’re feeling under the weather, you simply want to feel better, so you might be quick to reach for the usual standbys to calm a cough or ease congestion. If you’re pregnant or nursing, however, it’s not that easy. A lot of common prescription and over-the-counter medications can pose additional risks to an unborn child or affect breast milk, so it’s important to check for safety. A multinational study on the use of herbal remedies during pregnancy found that 28.9% of women used natural options, with 1 in 5 women reporting that they were recommended by their physician.
Maintain Your Immunity
It’s always better to prevent getting sick than to attempt treating the illness. Of course, frequent hand-washing and sanitizing will drastically improve your odds. It’s easy to opt for natural hand sanitizer by making your own with witch hazel and essential oils. It’s also important not to let cold weather affect your immunity so you’re more resistant to germs. Keep your body warm by dressing well and staying physically active. Also be sure to stay hydrated and replenish water loss after exercise, as dehydration can weaken your immune system as well.
A Spoonful of Sugar
You actually won’t need a spoonful of sugar to help your medicine go down when your medicine is honey. You might already be familiar with using honey for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties to treat sore and scratchy throats, but it is also a natural and effective cough suppressant. In fact, a study followed by the Mayo Clinic found that honey reduced nighttime coughing in children with respiratory infections as effectively as over-the-counter cough syrup. Honey is very affordable and safe to use during pregnancy, while nursing, and for children over the age of one year. Stir some honey into hot herbal tea or lemon water to help out with staying warm and hydrated.
The Power of Steam
Steam by itself is already an easy and effective means of getting relief from congestion, but adding some herbs for an herbal steam can double the impact. Avoid the traditional peppermint (it can decrease lactation) and go for oregano, thyme or rosemary, as these have been found to be antiviral. For a quick steam treatment, boil 4 cups of water, then transfer it to a large bowl with your chosen herb/s. Place your face over the bowl and cover your head with a towel to help seal in the steam. The hot water will release the herbs’ oils that help kill bacteria as well as help the moisture from the steam to break loose the congestion. Both fresh and dried herbs can be used, but steer clear of essential oils for your face-based steam (they’re still good to use in the shower, though — particularly lavender or eucalyptus).
Even if you’re the family “doctor,” always tending to everyone, remember to prioritize taking care of yourself as well. Take the time to eat healthfully, get some exercise, and de-stress — all of which will boost your immune system and your general well-being. After all, how can you take care of your loved ones if you’re down and out? Taking care of your family means taking care of yourself, too!