Congestion Relief for Expecting and Breastfeeding Moms

Moms don’t have time to be sick. Whether you have a cold, the flu, or you’re suffering from allergies, being congested can be draining on its own without the added pressure of our family role; even more so when pregnant or breastfeeding limits treatment options. 

Here are 6 simple (non-medicated) ways to find relief from congestion.


Congestion is often a symptom of many illnesses or a reaction to environmental conditions such as allergies (seasonal, pet, dust, mold, etc), and can come in the form of a stuffy nose, runny nose, sinus pressure or post nasal drip. Typically, congestion is short-lived and tends to move along within a few days to a week depending on how well your immune system can fight it out. On any normal day, you might be able to take an over-the-counter product such as an antihistamine or decongestant for a little relief. However, when you are pregnant or nursing, most of those options are not recommended. 

Before we discuss how to find some relief, let’s first have a basic understanding of congestion. 

Congestion occurs because the lining in our nasal passages has become swollen, due to irritation from a virus, bacteria, allergens or other foreign substance. Our body then begins to fight the irritation off, causing us to feel incredibly congested even before we experience an increase in mucus production.

From there, our immune system starts producing histamine, which triggers our body to go into protective mode. Once your body is in protective mode, you experience an increase of mucus, in an attempt to get rid of the foreign attackers that moisten your airways, and blood flow increases to your nasal lining making you feel congested.


1. TRUE Hepa Air Purifier 

One way to proactively fight allergens and get ahead of a cold is to keep an air purifier in the main living areas of your home, such as your bedroom. While some seasonal allergies can’t be avoided, reducing allergens in your home can make a huge difference in improving your symptoms. As an added benefit, the soft cleansing sound of an air purifier is roughly the same as a white noise sound machine making it perfect to keep near your baby’s room. Clean air and a sleeping baby – what more could you want? 

In addition to regularly changing out your home’s air filters, Honeywell air purifiers are often recommended by physicians and allergists as part of an overall allergy treatment program; and are safe for children as well as expecting and nursing mothers. Their highly effective air purifiers capture 99.97% of the microscopic particles (0.3 microns and larger) that pass through their filters. Furthermore, their True HEPA air purifiers (such as the HPA 200) are efficient at capturing airborne particles like dust, pollen, tobacco smoke, cooking smoke, fireplace smoke, pet dander, mold spores, and certain germs. 

Featuring 4 cleaning levels (general, allergen, germ and turbo), an automatic shut-off with 3 different time frames (2 hrs, 4 hrs and 8 hrs), and a light dimmer; the HPA-200 TRUE Allergen Air Purifier may not take up much room, but it does a great job of cleaning the air. Even better, it also has the ability to reduce unpleasant household odors (stinky diapers, litter box, etc) and VOCs/Gases with the activated carbon pre-filter. 

And, it’s easy to use and maintain. Simply tap the Power setting on the control panel and it responds to your touch. Choose the “Germ” or “Allergen” setting and the air purifier automatically maximizes its performance during cold and flu season, or peak allergen season – eliminating any guesswork on your part. Maintaining is just as simple: replace the pre-filter every 3 months and the HEPA filters once a year. You don’t even need to remember when – a filter light will remind you when it’s time to change the filter, no tools required. 

Honeywell True HEPA air purifiers (including the HPA-200) do not release ozone back into the air from the filtration process, making them the preferred air purifier for patients with breathing disorders. But, even if you don’t have a breathing disorder and you just want cleaner, fresher air, you’ll also appreciate that this system uses a mechanical filtration process – meaning that a fan pulls the particle-filled air into the unit and forces that air through a HEPA filter, effectively cleaning and circulating the air in a room up to 5 times an hour. 

Features to Love

  • #1 brand recommended by allergists
  • Helps capture up to 99.97% of microscopic allergens, 0.3 microns and larger from the air that passes through the filter
  • Helps reduce VOCs, and certain airborne germs
  • Carbon activated pre-filter helps capture larger particles before they enter the HEPA filter and helps reduce odors
  • ENERGY STAR qualified
  • Easy tap controls
  • 4 cleaning levels, including Allergen, Germ and Turbo Power Cleaning Levels
  • Automatic shut-off timer, 2, 4 or 8 hours
  • Control Panel light-dimmer

2. Humidifier

Once you’ve been attacked by a cold or seasonal allergies, you may have to take a more defensive approach. A humidifier is often recommended by pediatricians to help infants with their colds and is probably something your mother put in your room when you were congested as a child.

Humidifiers create cool vapors to help moisten the air in your room and to help loosen your nasal passage, which is important when you are congested because dry membranes in your nose and throat make passing mucus more difficult. Simply using a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep, or sitting in a steamy bathroom with a hot shower running can open up your nasal passages; allowing you to breathe easier when you are congested.

Remember to read the manufacturer’s instructions (or check their website if you’ve lost the manual) on how to properly clean your humidifier. Also be sure to change the water regularly.

3. Neti Pot

Neti pots are often mentioned within “alternative medicine” circles, but they have recently gained mainstream use, if you can get over the intimidation and awkwardness of using one. The simple act of flushing your sinuses with warm saline (similar to saline spray) can clear your head and bring relief fast. It works well for sinus infections, but also basic colds and allergies – anytime your head is congested. Just be sure you are using the proper solution and using the device properly so you do not introduce an infection.

Also, be sure to stock up on saline packets to make preparation of the saline solution much easier. Dissolve the contents in warm water in your neti pot. Give a quick stir. Then use.

Not so sure about using a Neti Pot? Saline nasal spray or mist can have similar results. Look for one with basic water and salt as ingredients.

4. Nasal Strips

After flushing out your sinuses using the neti pot, continue to breathe easier overnight with the use of nasal strips. These flexible strips adhere to your nose and gently lift the sides of your nose to open your nasal passages giving instant relief. They are great for colds, allergies, and sinus infections. In the morning, just ease them off under warm water during your shower.

Nasal strips can also be useful for reducing snoring.

5. Chest Rub

Chest rub is a simple way to get a little help breathing easier when you are congested thanks to the menthol scent, and it can also help ease coughs. For the latter, especially if you are breastfeeding and worried about your infant coming in contact with it, consider applying it to your feet at bedtime. Rub a little onto the soles of your feet, put on socks, and head to bed.

6. Plug-In Vaporizer

If you don’t want to use a chest rub and/or your humidifier isn’t designed for the addition of vapor pads or liquid, consider a plug-in style vaporizer. This simple unit holds a pad that releases the vapors into your room. Scents include menthol and lavender, rosemary and eucalyptus. Carefully slip in a single pad, plug in the unit, and let the vapors work their magic while you sleep.

If you are sharing a room with your infant post-pregnancy, be sure to read the package labels before using vaporizer pads as most are not recommended for infants under 10 pounds.

Finally, remember to continue to drink plenty of water. This is important whether or not you are pregnant or breastfeeding, to keep yourself hydrated as well as to thin your mucus and help to further clear your congestion. Also, be sure to get plenty of rest to help your body heal, and wash your sheets (especially your pillowcase!) frequently to help remove germs from your bedding.

Looking for Un-Maternity Wear?

If you need to add some maternity clothing to your wardrobe, but don’t want to spend money on pieces you’ll only wear for a short period of time, then head on over to Melody Lane for the best in regular clothing that is versatile enough to wear before, during, and after pregnancy! They offer trendy, classic, and comfortable clothing that is hand-picked for all the life stages women usually experience. With nothing over $100, always free shipping, and new styles featured every season, Melody Lane makes sure your “fashion meets life”.

Melody Lane | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

For more tips on staying healthy, read 8 Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies.

Photo credits: Sarah CogginsAshley Sisk

Sources: 1. People’s Pharmacy

This post is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician, doctor or health care professional. Please read our terms of use for more information.

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Sarah Coggins

Sarah lives in North Carolina and is a mom to 2 kids. She is craft and DIY obsessed - the latter of which comes in handy as she & her husband work to transform their foreclosure purchase into their dream home one project at a time. When she isn’t working on a project, she enjoys spending time with her son & daughter outdoors, exploring parks and geocaching. Find out more on her blog, 2paws Designs.

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