Baby It’s Cold Outside! Tips To Manage Pregnancy During Winter
As winterkicks into full swing, you may be wishing you were pregnant in any otherseason. Boots may feel a size too small as your feet and calves expand. Coatsdon’t button across your belly – I recommend a poncho or cape that you can keepusing after delivery!
While thecold can make pregnancy uncomfortable in some ways, patients often wonderwhether it can negatively affect their pregnancy. Researchers have looked intothis question, but their findings are not clear cut.
- A study from The Netherlands found that after adjusting for outlying data, there was no significant evidence for seasonal influences on depressive symptoms in pregnant patients. Women not being treated for psychiatric conditions reported the fewest depressive symptoms in September, while women being treated had fewer symptoms in December.
- This study from Australia suggests there may be a higher rate of gestational diabetes for pregnancies conceived in winter, while other studies suggest higher rates of hypertension for women who deliver in winter.
- And a study of more than 228,000 women from across the U.S. suggests a higher risk of delivering babies that weigh less than 5.5 pounds at term if the mother was exposed to hot or cold temperatures in the second and third trimesters. If she was exposed to cold during her entire pregnancy, she was more than twice as likely to have a small baby.
Results from studies likethese are not consistent enough to suggest winter itself will harm yourpregnancy.
Though you might need toskip a few of your favorite activities this year, winter is full of delightfulactivities you can enjoy while pregnant. Here are some tips to stay active andhealthy during a winter pregnancy.
Winter activities to enjoy – andavoid – during pregnancy
Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. These enjoyable outdoor activities are generally safe forpregnant women – and they are great exercise!
Walkingor hiking. Just makesure you have proper footwear to reduce the chance of slipping and falling. Watchout for patches of ice as well as potholes and sidewalk cracks.
Indoorworkouts. Yoga, lap swimming, and treadmill time can keep you fit andmoving during pregnancy without exposure to the elements. It's a good idea tocheck with your Ob/Gyn before starting a new activity.
Downhillskiing, snowboarding, or ice skating. Even if you’re experienced on the slopes, your center ofgravity is changing. It’s best to avoid activities with a high risk of falling– especially in the last trimester.
Shoveling. Call this a pregnancy perk. Wegenerally recommend that pregnant women avoid heavy lifting, and shoveling snowalso can exacerbate lower back pain, which is a common complaint in the last half of pregnancy.
Hot tubbing. Although the heat can seemattractive on a cold day, high water temperatures in a hot tub (exceeding 101degrees) can be detrimental to your baby’s developing nervous system during thefirst trimester. Instead, take a nice, warm bath. Learn more.
More winter health tips for moms-to-be
Winter is synonymous with flu and cold season. Practice good hand-washing hygiene to avoid picking up viral illnesses from friends, family, and co-workers. And get your flu shot!
If you do come down with a cold and want to take an over-the-counter remedy, look for medications that are formulated for your specific symptoms. Avoid multi-symptom formulas, especially those containing acetaminophen.
Alleviating pregnancy symptoms inwinter
Wintercan exacerbate some skin conditions associated withpregnancy. Dry winter air can wreak havoc onyour skin, increasing the risk of pruritus, or itchy skin. Nosebleeds, whichare more common during pregnancy because of the increase in blood volume, alsocan be more prevalent during the winter.
Increasethe humidity of the air in your home. Using a humidifier or placing bowls of water around yourhome may help with both of these problems.
Lowerleg swelling is common in the second half of pregnancy. To avoid or reduce leg swelling, cutdown on how long you’re on your feet. Light compression stockings worn to theknees also can reduce swelling by keeping fluid from pooling in thelegs. And you might appreciate the extra warmth!
Pregnancycan be uncomfortable during any season. But not everything about being pregnantin the winter is bad. The colder temperatures might even feel comfortable. Ifyou’re skeptical, ask any woman who has been pregnant during a Texas summer!
Don’t let the cold get youdown this winter. Instead, think of what’s in store for your family: Long walkswith your new little one during lovely spring days.
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