please help my pregnant wife with her bronchitis
June 29, 2007 8:02 PM   Subscribe

please, help my pregnant wife with her bronchitis

my wife is within the first FOUR weeks of pregnancy, five weeks at the most (we're seeing the OBGYN next week) and she's gotten sick. We've both been sick, really, but she really, really can't handle even the simplest cold - this is killing her. I took her to the clinic and they said that it was bronchitis but she would really have no other choice (due to her pregnancy) than "toughing it out."
Her OB/GYN said that there was nothing that could be prescribed since it was so early and that it wouldn't be an emergency unless her temp went over 101 (which it hasn't).
The problem is that my wife is the sort of thinks that the body can't correct itself without medicine. Whereas I, personally, avoid medicines I know if she stays hydrated, relaxes, rests and keeps her appetite up she'll soon be fine (which is what two doctors have said now), I don't think she echoes that.

I found a website ( that says she could take Robitussin DM for her cough, and Benadryl for her congestion/stuffy nose. With the Benadryl it stays explicitly that it's okay for women in the first three months of pregnancy. Neither doctor mentioned either of these (though I think both thought we were asking for prescription medicines). I know Tylenol is okay for pregnant women - but are either of these safe? or something else? ANYTHING ELSE????

Any suggestions for what I can do to ease her pain, to speed up the healing process and to convince her that she's healing?
posted by starr226 to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
I know that Benadryl is typically ok to take during pregnancy, but am not sure about witin the first 4 weeks...i would ask another nurse or ob/gyn about this. In your post you say that your doc, would not "prescribe" anything, but Benadrul is OTC... still, ask another doc first.
posted by pazoozoo at 8:16 PM on June 29, 2007

I got bronchitis about the same time with my first pregnancy (which was successful!). I didn't want to take any medication. A doctor told me that much research indicated that taking long hot showers would have a great effect. (No baths, though!) He also said that honey mixed with lemon is as effective as most cough syrups. So that's what I did. It went on for a couple of weeks. When I talked to two different pharmacists, both said they would not recommend a pregnant woman take anything. Heck, my pharmacist would not even recommend something when I was breastfeeding a 13-month-old.

I would not take anything unless the doctor recommended it. If anything "goes wrong" during the pregnancy or afterward, you will always wonder if it was the Benadryl or Robitussin or whatever.

I really had good results with the showers. Breath in lots of steamy hot air.

Unfortunately, pregnancy is about a lot of sacrifices. I'm sorry your wife has to start off with this.
posted by acoutu at 8:59 PM on June 29, 2007

I wasn't able to take anything when I was pregnant either and I got sick twice. I drank a lot of juice with lemon because I heard (or read) lemon is a natural expectorant...honey is one as well. Drink lots of liquid and get a good humidifier.. or a shower as acoutu suggested.
I slept with a humidifier on, drank liquids, took my Flintstones, and drank a lot of orange juice (citric acid = expectorant as well) and within a week or so... I was better!

I hope she feels better soon.
posted by czechmate at 9:02 PM on June 29, 2007

The last time I had bronchitis I couldn't take much in the way of medicine since most medicines knock me for a loop. The showers and tea-with-honey treatments mentioned above worked well. I also slept on my couch against the arm with a bunch of pillows propping me up. It was kind of like laying in a La-Z-Boy. It helped me breathe since I always got stuffier when I slept flat on my back.

Good luck and I hope she feels better soon!
posted by christinetheslp at 9:08 PM on June 29, 2007

See what the ob-gyn says about lobelia tincture and Broncitone--made by Nature's Answer. Whole foods sells something with similar ingredients.
posted by brujita at 9:31 PM on June 29, 2007

Sorry, ignore the earlier post--the labels on the bottles say they're not meant for pregnant or nursing women.
posted by brujita at 11:27 PM on June 29, 2007

Boiling water poured over half a lemon with a tsp of honey or sugar in it is nice.

But. I find many cautions to be too cautious. I'm not saying she should go down the contents of the medicine cabinet, but most of these pregnancy risks (or, usually, potential or theoretical risks) are dose-dependent, and a brief, limited exposure to even something bad isn't going to do much; which see all the people who get thoroughly loaded before they find out they're pregnant.

"The use of dextromethorphan for cough during pregnancy does not appear to produce an increased risk of congenital malformations in newborns. Similar data with guaifenesin also suggests it is safe to use during pregnancy. However, in general, the use of drugs should be minimized whenever possible during pregnancy." (from) says to me, "You might try cutting the normal dose in half and taking that when you're desperate to get some relief."

I'm pregnant, I've covered my house in mucous in a bid to avoid pills, but it does seem silly at times, and a fractional amount of a 'safe' antihistamine works surprisingly well. Given the safety records of stuff like Benadryl, I think I'm just making myself feel better with the wee doses, but it's still not a bad thing.

Call a pharmacist instead of a doctor, too, for more info. The advice is usually up-to-date, and unbiased. And Google Scholar is great for pregnancy questions. (If you're bored, check out how many pregnant women can't quit the cocaine. It will, at least, make you feel better about a bit of cough syrup.) Motherisk can be useful (note phone line, too).

The answer to "Is it safe?" often has quite a bit to do with just how badly the person answering suffered during pregnancy (or how bad his wife did).

Finally, when I've got a bout of bronchitis going, I load up on (1) drugs and (2) loathing for you 'stay hydrated, relax, rest and keep appetite up' people. I trust that you've got the juicer running, are cooking up soup from scratch, etc. And congratulations.
posted by kmennie at 2:06 AM on June 30, 2007

Maybe something like the Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler would be more convenient than taking lots of long hot showers... I love mine.
posted by mingshan at 8:14 AM on June 30, 2007

The earlier in the pregnancy it is, the more sensitive the fetus is to everything -- radiation, medicines, food, whatever. Some think this is why morning sickness occurs in the first trimester -- to keep pregnant women from exposing themselves to foods that might upset things with the fetus.

I'd say to think of these medicines as a last resort -- if you really need them, then you really need them, but try everything else you can think of first.

-- Honey, hot water and lemon is a pretty great cough syrup.
-- Lots of hot showers, or just go in the bathroom and turn on the hot water and sit in the steam for a while.
-- Hot herbal tea, and lots of it.
-- Good nourishing food and soups and stuff
-- Lots of sleep
-- Plenty of fluids
-- Garlic (you can even slice it up into chunks and take it like you would a pill)
-- Avoiding foods that seem to trigger mucousy-ness (dairy? I hesitate to recommend that a pregnant woman skip dairy, though, but sugar, maybe?)

-- Above all, assure your wife that her immune system is an amazing and effective machine that, given good food and sleep and water, will likely take care of this for her. IMHO, her doctors are giving good advice.

Best of luck. Feel better.
posted by jennyjenny at 10:52 AM on June 30, 2007

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