While many of the moms I know have preferred a chilly winter pregnancy to the discomfort of expecting in the hot summer months, I’ve learned firsthand that being pregnant in the winter comes with its fair share of obstacles–specifically, staying healthy during a winter pregnancy despite sick kids, cabin fever, and fewer opportunities to remain active.
I was pregnant during the previous two winters—newly pregnant for one and about-to-pop for the other—so I understand how difficult it can be to stay healthy when everyone around you is sick, motivation is low, and carbs are abundant. But, it is possible.
Here are some tips for staying healthy during a winter pregnancy:
Find Creative Ways to Stay Active
Walking outdoors is a great means of staying active during the warmer months. But when the temperatures dip and there’s a foot of snow on the ground, that option is usually off the table. Fortunately, you can stay active in other ways: walking or running on a treadmill or indoor walking track, swimming in a public pool, taking a prenatal yoga class, or following an at-home workout DVD.
Many malls also permit public walkers before the stores open for the day. If you were an avid exerciser pre-pregnancy, you can continue to do some (if not all) of the same activities you engaged in before, as long as you listen to your body (I took spin classes up until my 9th month!).
Avoid “Eating for Two”
During my first pregnancy, I worked in a bakery, so temptation constantly presented itself in the form of flaky pastries and oversized cookies. My coworkers were always offering me treats, citing that old “eating for two” adage. Unfortunately, that’s not really the case.
Your body only needs an average of 200-300 extra calories during the second and third trimester and no more than usual during the first, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Allow yourself to indulge when the mood strikes—a slice of pie here, an ice cream sundae there—just try not to let yourself get caught up in the idea that your baby needs it.
Sometimes you just want it and that’s perfectly OK, too. A little chocolate sauce covers a multitude of sins.
Take Precautions to Prevent Illness
During pregnancy, your immune system runs at a lower speed to keep from rejecting the unborn baby (who is considered a foreign object by your body). This means, you are more susceptible to illness during pregnancy.
To avoid getting sick when it seems like nearly everyone you interact with has some version of the cold or flu, make sure you drink plenty of water, try to get as much sleep as possible (difficult during pregnancy, I know), and take your prenatal vitamins religiously.
A flu shot is also a must for pregnant women, as the flu can cause severe illness to the mother and possibly trigger pregnancy complications. According to the CDC, the flu vaccine can pass antibodies to the baby that will protect him or her from the flu until six months of age.
Practice Self Care
Shorter daylight hours plus more time cooped up indoors in addition to all of the usual pregnancy discomforts can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to staying sane. Go easy on yourself. Avoid things you know cause undue stress. Take naps when you can. If you have other children, schedule some brief time away, if possible (even if dad hangs out with them for 30 minutes while you take a bath or do your nails). Indulge in activities that relax you like yoga, reading, or even just coloring lying alone in a quiet room while no one begs for your attention,
In short, be kind to yourself. Avoiding stress is just as important to overall health as getting a flu shot, drinking water or walking on the treadmill. Scheduling self-care like you would any other task on your to-do list helps ensure you’ll actually follow through with it.
Taking care of your own physical and mental health can be difficult during pregnancy, particularly when it seems like the cold weather will outlive your sanity. Keeping these tips in mind will help you stay focused on what’s most important—the health of you and your baby.
How did/do you stay healthy during a winter pregnancy?