Sudafed or Mucinex While Pregnant

Not much good comes out of being pregnant. You get bloated, your feet swell, and worst of all, you start gaining weight. But that’s not all. You also can’t use your favorite medications for stuffy or runny nose or cough congestion because they’re bad for the baby. But wait! Guess what? You can! So, let’s take a look at two popular medications: Sudafed and Mucinex. Can you take Sudafed while pregnant?

Can you take Sudafed while pregnant?

You may be wondering, “Is Sudafed safe for me to use if I’m pregnant?” or “Can I take Sudafed when I am breastfeeding my baby?” or “Is it safe to take Sudafed with my children?” You’re not the only one who has had those thoughts. There are many people who do not want to take medications when they are pregnant or breastfeeding and this is understandable. However, there are also people who need medications during their pregnancy and breastfeeding period because they have a condition that requires them to do so.

In order to help you decide whether it’s fine for you to take Sudafed while pregnant, we will discuss some of the concerns surrounding its use during pregnancy and provide you with some information on what studies have found regarding the safety of this drug in pregnancy as well as breastfeeding mothers.*

Can you take Mucinex while pregnant?

Yes, you can take Mucinex while pregnant. Mucinex is safe for pregnant women and is a safe option for pregnant women who are experiencing nasal congestion. If your doctor has prescribed Sudafed, you should continue taking that instead of switching to Mucinex because Sudafed does not have the same ingredients as Mucinex and it has been used in studies on humans, which gives more information about its safety than the animal studies used to approve other drugs like Mucinex.

If you’re looking for an alternative to Sudafed during pregnancy or just want something effective that won’t make your body work harder at expelling it later on in life (like some antihistamines do), then consider using Zyrtec instead of an antihistamine containing pseudoephedrine HCL or phenylephrine HCL (the active ingredients in most decongestants).

Sudafed, Mucinex and Pregnancy

As long as you’re not having any complications with your pregnancy, both Sudafed and Mucinex are safe to take while pregnant. They’re also okay to take while breastfeeding.

If you have a cold and are trying to decide between taking Sudafed or Mucinex, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider first. Both medications have their place in the treatment of a cough and cold, but there may be other options available that are better suited for helping you feel better faster.

Yes, you can take Sudafed and Mucinex while pregnant.

Yes, you can take Sudafed and Mucinex while pregnant. Both medications are safe for use during pregnancy. They are both decongestants, which means they relieve congestion by constricting the blood vessels in your nasal passages. The difference between them is that Sudafed contains pseudoephedrine hydrochloride as its active ingredient and Mucinex also contains guaifenesin (guaifenesin mucate). Guaifenesin is a medication used to treat congestion related to asthma or allergies, but it also has some side effects such as dry mouth or increased urination when taken at high doses.

Conclusion

You can take Sudafed, Mucinex and other similar products while pregnant. But you should consult with your doctor first before taking them.

When you are pregnant, your immune system doesn’t operate at maximum capacity, which is actually a good thing because it keeps your growing baby protected, and stops your body from thinking the fetus is an intruder. However, this comes with the downside that your body can’t ward off the viruses that cause the common cold quite as effectively. This can leave you vulnerable to the symptoms that come along, including a congested nose, cough, and sore throat. 

As we move into cold and flu season, you may find yourself coming down with a cold, and while you can rest assured that your baby isn’t experiencing any of them, you want to get rid of the symptoms quickly and safely. While colds are mostly an uncomfortable annoyance best managed by a little extra rest, fluids, and patience, you may find yourself seeking out cold medications to alleviate your symptoms. We recommend making a call to your OBGYN so they can steer you in the right direction in terms of cold medications that are considered safe during pregnancy. Here are our own recommendations on what to do if you get sick while pregnant.

Common cold symptoms during pregnancy

Generally, a cold will start with a sore or scratchy throat lasting about a day or two, followed by the gradual onset of other symptoms which may include:

  • Sneezing
  • Mild fatigue
  • A runny, then later stuffy nose
  • A dry cough, particularly as the cold is ending which may continue for a week or more after the other symptoms have mostly subsided
  • A low-grade fever typically under 100 degrees Fahrenheit

Cold symptoms usually last between 10 to 14 days. However, if your symptoms persist longer than that time frame or seem to progressively worsen, you should talk to your primary care physician so they can ensure it hasn’t turned into something more serious like an infection or the flu. 

Is it a cold or the flu?

The best way to tell the difference between a cold and the flu is to take account of the typical symptoms.

  • A cold is milder than the flu. Its symptoms come on gradually and typically you only run a low-grade to no fever. It generally starts off with a sore throat that goes away after a day or two, a cold ends with the main symptoms of a runny nose and cough.
  • Influenza, commonly called the flu, is more severe and the onset is more sudden than a cold. Symptoms include a high fever (typically 101-104 degrees F or higher), headache, chills, a sore throat that typically worsens by the second or third day, intense muscle soreness, and a general feeling of weakness and fatigue. These symptoms, along with sneezing and a cough, can last a couple of weeks or longer.

What to do if you get a cold while pregnant

Before turning to medicine, there are some effective cold remedies that don’t come from a pharmacy shelf. Here are ways to alleviate symptoms and feel better fast:

  • Keep eating: It’s common to not have much of an appetite when you have a cold but it is important to eat a healthy diet while you are sick and pregnant.
  • Rest: While this won’t necessarily shorten the duration of your cold, your body needs rest. Sleeping can prove to be a bit difficult when sick with a cold. Breathe easier by elevating your head with a few pillows. Nasal strips can also help as they gently pull your nasal passages open. They are easy to find, sold over the counter and are drug-free.
  • Stay active: If you can, do some light to moderate, pregnancy-safe exercises. It will help your body to fight off the cold faster.
  • Drink lots of fluids: Symptoms of colds like sneezing, runny nose, and fever causes your body to lose fluids that are essential to you and your baby. Warm beverages like tea with honey (which helps to suppress a dry cough) or hot soup with broth are soothing for your symptoms and cold water and juices work fine as well.
  • Eat foods with vitamin C: Foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, melon, kiwi, and red cabbage are packed with vitamin C which will help to boost your immune system.
  • Get more zinc: Pregnant women should try to get 11-15 milligrams of zinc each day, including the zinc in prenatal vitamins. Foods like turkey, beef, eggs, yogurt, wheat germ, oatmeal, and pork will also help to boost your immune system.
  • Use a humidifier: Dry conditions in your home can aggravate your symptoms so using a cold or warm air humidifier at night can really help. 
  • Use saline nose drops, rinses, and sprays.  All of these can help to moisten nasal passages, and they’re unmedicated, so they are safe for use while pregnant. We do recommend avoiding neti pots, however, as they can spread germs.
  • Gargle with warm salt water: Gargling with warm salt water can help to ease a scratchy throat and help control a cough.

Medications that are safe for pregnant women to take for a cold

Before reaching for the medications in your medicine cabinet, reach for the phone and call your OBGYN to discuss the recommended remedies you can take for a cold while pregnant. Here are cold medications that are generally safe during pregnancy.

Acetaminophen

Taking acetaminophen like Tylenol can help in the short-term to reduce head and body aches and break a fever.

Cough medicine

Expectorants like Mucinex, cough suppressants like Robitussin, vapor rubs like Vicks VapoRub, and cough drops are all considered safe during pregnancy. But again, make sure to consult your OBGYN about safe dosages.

Nasal sprays

Plain saline drops and sprays are safe and can help to moisturize and clear a stuffy nose. Most steroid-containing nasal sprays are also safe but you should check with your doctor about brands and dosing.

Antihistamines

Benadryl and Claritin are generally safe during pregnancy but, as usual, check with your doctor as some will advise against them during the first trimester.

Medications to avoid during pregnancy

Always check with your doctor or OBGYN before taking any medications – prescription, over-the-counter, or homeopathic – particularly the following. 

  • Pain relievers and fever reducers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can cause pregnancy complications, particularly if taken during the third trimester.
  • Decongestants like Sudafed and DayQuil are generally cautioned against after the first trimester and only in a limited amount.
  • Avoid non-steroidal nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline.
  • Don’t take supplemental vitamins or herbal remedies without medical approval.

Decongestant While Pregnant Third Trimester

When you’re expecting, your immune system runs at a lower speed than usual — which is actually a good thing, since it keeps your growing baby protected and stops your body from thinking that the fetus is a foreign entity. The downside of this immune suppression, though, is that your body doesn’t ward off many of the viruses that cause the common cold, which can make you more vulnerable to symptoms including a stuffy nose, cough and sore throat.

The upside to even the nastiest cold symptoms is knowing your baby isn’t experiencing any of them. In fact, the womb’s environment keeps baby completely sheltered from cold bugs.Top Articles10 Benefits of Exercise During PregnancyHealth Benefits of Pregnancy and MotherhoodREAD MORE20 Strong Boy Names With Powerful Meanings18 Unisex Baby Names for a Boy or a Girl6 Surprising Pregnancy Symptoms — for Partners!What Does It Mean to Have an Anterior Placenta?Health Benefits of Pregnancyand Motherhood

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As for you, colds are mostly an uncomfortable annoyance best managed with rest, fluids, patience and a quick call to your practitioner to make sure he or she is aware of all your symptoms, including any fever. If necessary, your doctor can also steer you towards cold medications that are considered safe during pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know to feel better.

What are the symptoms of a cold during pregnancy?

A cold usually begins with a sore or scratchy throat that lasts for a day or two, followed by the gradual appearance of other symptoms, including:

  • A runny, then later stuffy, nose
  • Sneezing
  • Mild fatigue
  • A dry cough, particularly near the cold’s end, which may continue for a week or more after other symptoms have subsided
  • Low-grade fever (usually under 100 degrees Fahrenheit)
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Weirdest Pregnancy Symptoms

What causes colds during pregnancy?

Colds are most commonly caused by a type of virus known as a rhinovirus, which is easily passed from person to person. There are 200 or more cold viruses, which is why may get them frequently.

How long does a cold during pregnancy last?

Cold symptoms generally last 10 to 14 days. And yes, sorry to say, you can get a brand new cold just as the last one is ending, so if it feels like you always have the sniffles, you may be right.

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However, if your symptoms persist past 10 to 14 days, or seem to be getting progressively worse, let your practitioner know. He or she will want to make sure your never-ending cold isn’t evolving into something more serious, like COVID-19 or the flu.

Is it a cold — or the flu?

You can usually tell the difference between a cold and the flu by taking stock of the symptoms:

  • A cold, even a bad one, is milder than the flu. Its symptoms come on gradually, and there’s usually little to no fever. The sore throat that usually starts off the cold goes away after a day or two, leaving the runny nose and cough as the main symptoms.
  • Influenza, aka the flu, is more severe and comes on more suddenly than a cold. Symptoms of the flu include a high fever (usually 101 degrees F to 104 degrees F or higher), headache, chills, a sore throat that generally worsens by the second or third day (unlike with a cold), often intense muscle soreness, and general weakness and fatigue, which can last a couple of weeks or longer. You may also experience occasional sneezing and a cough that can become severe.

COVID-19 symptoms — including fever, cough, chills and fatigue — can mimic those of the cold and flu. If you’re sick with COVID-19 or think you may have COVID-19, stay home and call your doctor for next steps.

What can you do to feel better if you get a cold during pregnancy?

Although many of the medications that relieve cold symptoms are typically off-limits during pregnancy, you don’t have to suffer with a runny nose and hacking cough when you’re pregnant. Some of the most effective cold remedies don’t come from the pharmacy shelf. Here’s how to feel better faster:

  • Rest. Taking a cold to bed doesn’t necessarily shorten its duration, but if your body is begging for some rest, be sure to listen.
  • Stay active. If you’re not running a fever or coughing and you feel up to it, do some light to moderate, pregnancy-safe exercise, which may actually help you feel better faster.
  • Keep eating. Sure, you probably don’t have much of an appetite, but eating as healthy a diet as possible when you do feel up to it can help with some of your cold symptoms.
  • Focus on foods with vitamin C. They can help boost your immune system naturally. Try all types of citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, grapefruit), strawberries, melon, kiwi, mango, tomatoes, bell peppers, papaya, broccoli, red cabbage and spinach.
  • Chow down on more zinc. It may also help boost the immune system; pregnant women should aim to get 11-15 milligrams each day from all sources, including your prenatal vitamin. Fill up on turkey, beef, pork, cooked oysters, eggs, yogurt, wheat germ and oatmeal.
  • Drink up. Fever, sneezes and a runny nose will cause your body to lose fluids that you and your baby need. Warm beverages will be particularly soothing, so keep a thermos of a hot drink like ginger tea or a hot soup like chicken broth next to your bed. Try to drink enough to stay well hydrated too — your urine should be the color of pale straw. Water and cold juices also work fine, if that’s what you’re thirsting for.
  • Supplement safely. Taking your prenatal vitamin, which contains vitamin C and zinc, is smart even when you’re fighting a cold. Just don’t take any other supplements beyond your prenatal without your doctor’s approval.
  • Sleep easy. Breathe easier when you’re lying down or sleeping by elevating your head with a couple of pillows. Nasal strips, which gently pull your nasal passages open, making breathing easier, may also help. They’re sold over the counter and are completely drug-free.
  • Moisturize your air. If dry conditions in your home aggravate your sensitive nasal passages and throat, misting the room with a cold or warm air humidifier at night can help. Adults can use either kind, but for safety’s sake, don’t ever use a warm-air version in a baby’s or toddler’s room.
  • Use saline nose drops, sprays or rinses. These help moisten your nasal passages; since they’re un-medicated, they’re completely safe to use as often as you need. Just avoid neti pots, since they’re more apt to spread germs.
  • Gargle with saltwater. Gargling with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water) can ease a scratchy or sore throat, wash away post nasal drip and help control a cough.
  • Eat honey. A couple of teaspoons straight — or mixed in hot water with lemon — has been shown to help suppress the kind of dry cough that often comes with and after a cold at least as effectively as an OTC cough syrup.

What can pregnant women take for a cold? Safe medications for colds during pregnancy

Before you reach for anything in your medicine cabinet when you’re in bed with a cold, reach for the phone to call your practitioner so you can ask which remedies are considered safe in pregnancy, as well as which will work best in your case.

Be sure to double-check any prescription or OTC medication or supplement recommended by a different health care provider, such as a therapist, nutritionist or pharmacist, with your practitioner to make sure it’s safe. And watch out for multi-tasking meds, like general pain relievers, which could contain ingredients that aren’t cleared for pregnant women. Some remedies you’re used to taking may not be safe during pregnancy.

So what cold medications are generally considered safe during pregnancy? Here’s a list:

  • Acetaminophen: If you’re running a fever or suffering from nasty body aches or headaches, it’s generally considered safe to take products containing acetaminophen (like Tylenol) over the short-term.
  • Cough medications: Expectorants (like Mucinex), cough suppressants (such as Robitussin or Vicks Formula 44), vapor rubs (like Vicks Vapo Rub) as well as most cough drops are considered safe during pregnancy, but ask your practitioner about dosing.
  • Some nasal sprays: Most steroid-containing nasal sprays are fine to use during pregnancy, but check with your doctor about brands and dosing. Plain saline drops and sprays are always safe to take when you’re expecting and can help clear and moisturize a stuffy nose.
  • Some antihistamines: Benadryl and Claritin often get the green light during pregnancy, but be sure to check with your practitioner before taking them. Some doctors will advise staying away from those medications in the first trimester.

Always check with your practitioner before you take any medication — prescription, over the counter or homeopathic. And don’t put off calling the doctor or refuse to take a medication he or she prescribes because you think all drugs are harmful in pregnancy. Many are not. But do be sure the prescribing doctor knows you’re expecting.

COVID-19 symptoms — including fever, cough, chills and fatigue — can mimic those of the cold and flu. If you’re sick with COVID-19 or think you may have COVID-19, stay home and call your doctor for next steps.

Medications to avoid during pregnancy

Some of the medications that could help with cold symptoms are off-limits to moms-to-be because they may complicate pregnancy and cause harm to their unborn baby, although further research needs to be done. Don’t panic if you happened to inadvertently take one of these medications. It’s probably fine, but just let your doctor know. Off-limit meds include:

  • Some pain relievers and fever reducers. Studies suggest an association between analgesics such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), especially during the third trimester, and pregnancy complications, including low birth weight and preterm delivery.
  • Most decongestants. Most practitioners say to stay clear of decongestants such as Claritin-D, Sudafed or DayQuil. Even those experts who say it’s okay to take some decongestants will probably caution that they’re only safe to use after the first trimester, and only in a limited amount (for example, once or twice daily for no more than a day or two).
  • Some nasal sprays. Steer clear of non-steroidal nasal decongestant sprays containing oxymetazoline (like Afrin) unless given the green light by your practitioner. Many will tell you to avoid these sprays completely while you’re expecting, while others will advise only limited use (one or two days at a time) after the first trimester.
  • Alternative or homeopathic remedies. Don’t take echinacea, supplemental vitamins like zinc supplements or other over-the-counter herbal remedies without medical approval.

How to prevent a cold during pregnancy

Besides avoiding anyone who is visibly sick, wash your hands with soap and water a little more often — and scrupulously — than you did before. Don’t just wash and shake; use a towel to make sure your hands are completely dry when you’re done. In a pinch, carry an alcohol gel with 60 percent alcohol on the label for quick sanitizing on the go.

But don’t blame yourself if you still come down with a cold — or several — during your pregnancy, despite your best efforts. Viruses are almost impossible to avoid, especially in the winter. There are many joys of being pregnant, but alas, being even more vulnerable to nasty cold bugs isn’t one of them. And just remember: This, too, shall pass.

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever over 101 degrees F
  • Your cold is severe enough to interfere with eating or sleeping
  • You’re coughing up greenish or yellowish mucus
  • You have a cough with chest pain or wheezing
  • Your sinuses are throbbing
  • If symptoms last more than 10 to 14 days; it’s possible that your cold has progressed to a secondary infection, and a prescription medication may be needed for your safety and your baby’s

What Type of Mucinex Can You Take While Pregnant

No one wants to get sick during pregnancy. And whether it’s caused by allergies, a cold, or bronchitis, a cough can be one of the most stubborn conditions to treat.

Can You Take Mucinex While Pregnant?

So what are you supposed to do about a cough while you’ve got a baby on board? Are the most common medications safe for you to take right now?

Make yourself a hot drink, and we’ll look at the question of taking Mucinex while pregnant.

In this article 📝

  • What is Mucinex?
  • Is Mucinex safe during pregnancy?
  • So can I take Mucinex while pregnant?
  • How much Mucinex is safe during pregnancy?
  • Home remedies for a cough

What is Mucinex?

Mucinex is a brand-name over-the-counter medicine that lots of people keep in the cabinet for when they feel congested. It comes in different formulations and strengths, but the main active ingredients are:

  1. Guaifenesin, an expectorant. That’s the technical term for a drug that loosens mucus and makes it easier for you to get rid of it.
  2. Dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant. This drug is there to help ease that constant feeling of needing to cough.

Is Mucinex safe during pregnancy?

If you’re wondering, ‘Can I take Mucinex while pregnant?’ the answer is a little complicated.

The FDA has categories to describe how safe it is to take different medications during pregnancy.

The ingredients above – guaifenesin and dextromethorphan – are both listed as category C.

This means there’s good news and bad news when it comes to the question: ‘Does Mucinex cause birth defects?’

(Note: We prefer the term ‘birth differences’, though. See our #RenamingRevolution Glossary.)

The bad news is that animal trials have shown that category C drugs affect fetal development.

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The good news is that the same effects haven’t been observed in humans.

But, unfortunately, the bottom line is that we simply don’t have enough data to say for sure that the active ingredients in Mucinex are safe for mamas-to-be and their babies.

Often, the verdict on category C medications is this: if the benefit (i.e. finally being able to sleep without coughing yourself awake and/or avoiding a serious chest infection) outweighs the risk, it’s possible that your doctor would prescribe Mucinex during your pregnancy.

So can I take Mucinex while pregnant?

As with all cold and flu medications, it’s important to ask your doctor directly before you take Mucinex during pregnancy.

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This isn’t just because of the category C risk, but also because there are so many different products on pharmacy shelves.

It’s really important to take the correct dose and avoid certain ingredients.

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While the guaifenesin and dextromethorphan in Mucinex are sometimes considered reasonably safe, that’s not the case for the common decongestant (a drug that helps unblock your nose), phenylephrine.

With this medication, there’s more evidence to show that it can cause a higher rate of birth differences, especially if it’s taken during the first trimester.

Your doctor or pharmacist will help you avoid medications that contain this ingredient.

How much Mucinex is safe during pregnancy?

The recommended dose of Mucinex for pregnant women isn’t different from the recommended dose for other adults.

But you might prefer to take the smallest dose you can for the shortest possible time.

Some extra tips when taking cold meds:

  • Mucinex doesn’t help a dry cough or a scratchy throat. If this is your problem, see some of our other tips below.
  • Be careful with max strength versions of cold and flu medications because it can be far easier to take too much of these formulations.
  • Keep an extra eye on medications that contain acetaminophen. Acetaminophen (AKA paracetamol) is generally considered to be one of the safest drugs to take during pregnancy. But if you take two regular pills to treat your headache or fever, and then take a cold remedy that also contains acetaminophen, that’s too much for your liver to handle.

Home remedies for a cough

If your cough is mild and you’re only slightly congested, these home remedies can make a big difference:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and hot tea. Adding some honey and lemon can be extra soothing, and chamomile before bedtime might help you get to sleep.
  • Take a hot shower because the steam will help to loosen the mucus in your lungs.
  • Sleep with a humidifier beside your bed to stop your throat from feeling as sore during the night.
  • Prop your mattress up slightly with rolled towels or pillows so that mucus doesn’t settle in your chest.
  • Do some gentle exercise (if you feel up to it). The fresh air and movement are both helpful. Bonus points if you can get the sun on your face for a little boost of vitamin D.

Get well soon, mama.

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