Since winter isn't showing any signs of letting up or slowing down, it's a good time to talk about how to deal with the ups and downs of winter weather during pregnancy. Many of the safety precautions you normally heed in winter weather also apply while pregnant, with a few subtle differences or extra attention. For those lamenting being big and pregnant during the winter months, know that being pregnant in summer usually isn't any easier (some would say it's more difficult!).
Preventing falls - A fall for anyone on the ice or in the snow can be dangerous. With pregnancy, of course, the added concern is falling on your abdomen or causing bodily injury that would make pregnancy more difficult or painful. Be sure to wear solid, non-slip rubber soled shoes when walking out and about in the elements. Walk and move mindfully and slowly, especially when on ice. If you find yourself in a fall, try your best to tuck your head and roll onto your side or back. Keep in mind that if you do fall and hit your abdomen, your uterus is strong and designed very well to keep baby safe. It's always a good idea, however, to call your care provider after a fall.
Regulating temperature - Pregnancy causes your temperature to run higher than normal. Later in pregnancy, your growing belly and baby helps add to the heat your body already feels. In winter, the extra heat can be both helpful and frustrating. Moving in and out of warm and cold temperatures can be vexing to the pregnant body. To deal with the fluctuations, wear thin, breathable layers that include a short sleeved shirt or even tank top to help comfortably regulate your temperature.
Skin care - Winter weather causes nearly everyone's skin to experience changes like itching, dryness, and cracking. Add this to pregnancy, which can also cause itchy skin and dryness, especially around the mid-section, and you will want to invest in good skin cream, lotion, or salve. Apply regularly to keep your skin moist and itch-free.
Winter blues - Grey skies and extra cold temperatures can mean a lot of time spent indoors. Even if the weather is rough, it's important for you to spend regular time outside in the fresh air and natural light (yes, even if the sky is cloudy). Your body and brain need sunlight to provide the required amount of vitamin D, which helps regulate your mood, strengthen your bones (by helping absorb calcium), and boost your immune system and neuromuscular system. To help increase your vitamin D in the winter, take a multi-vitamin.
Driving safety - As with walking, ice can also cause safety hazards while driving. It's important to heed ice warnings and only venture out where/when it's safe. Make sure your tires are in good condition with tread that is not worn down. Perhaps the best thing you can do to keep yourself safe while driving is to wear your seatbelt correctly and every time. According to the March of Dimes, you should make sure both the lap belt and shoulder belt fit snugly; buckle the lap belt so it sits under your belly and across your hips; position the shoulder belt between your breasts and off to the side of your belly.
Germs - With the winter season comes cold and flu season. While the cold weather does not cause colds and the flu, the increased amount of time spent inside in heated spaces likely does. In pregnancy, your immune system is lowered. It's important to take proper precaution by frequent hand washing, good nutrition (a large daily doses of fruit and veggies), sanitizing surfaces, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, regular exercise, getting the flu shot, and avoiding people who you know are sick.
Hydration - Sweating in your winter layers along with time spent confined in heated indoor spaces means you may be as likely to face dehydration in the winter as your are in summer. It's a good idea, no matter what the weather, to make sure you're regularly drinking water throughout the day during your pregnancy.
Dryness - Indoor heating can cause the lining of your nose to become dry and increase your chance of nosebleeds. An easy way to counteract this is to install a humidifier in your bedroom.
Staying active - Dreary, super cold winter weather can be extra demotivating when it comes to exercising. But if you can force yourself to get up and exercise, it will help boost your mood and motivation.
Don't let the winter weather get you down -- or let you fall down -- take some time and a few extra steps to keep you safe and feeling good!