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Winter Pregnancy Survival Guide

woman wearing coat with fur hood

First-time mom Sasha Emmons was pregnant with her daughter, Chloe, during the brutal winter months in New York City. She was in the latter part of her pregnancy when snow and ice storms hit the city. "We had a lot of snow that winter," she said, "and I did find it a little scary trudging ... with my big belly."

Dr. Sara DuMond, a mom and pediatrician in South Carolina, agrees that it is more dangerous to be pregnant in an area with wintery conditions, because of possible injury, but also because of "the sneezers and snifflers."

Extra cautious, Emmons took her time traveling to ensure no harm to herself or her little one as she braved the streets. She learned her lesson after being stuck outside wearing heels in the snow, waiting for a train that never came. After that day, she went out and purchased rubber snow boots, which she says, "Were the most sensible boots I have ever owned." In addition, she made sure to always wear shoes with good traction.

A few perks of winter pregnancy that she noted, however, were that her internal thermostat made her rarely cold -- "They don't call [your pregnant belly] an oven for nothing." Additionally, she experienced very little swelling of her ankles and fingers, due to the cold weather outside.

Tips for Weathering Winter

  • Get fresh air.
  • Don't stay in bed, although the coziness can be tempting.
  • Avoid saunas and hot tubs, although the heat can be attractive.
  • Get an influenza vaccine in second or third trimester, when your immune system is weakest, to avoid seasonal viruses.
  • Avoid many winter sports, because of risk of injury.
  • Take pressure off of your back by carrying less, because during pregnancy ligaments become softer and looser.
  • Don't shovel or attempt to clear snow, as it requires too much twisting and back use.
  • Enjoy a warm cup of hot chocolate or a nice herbal tea.
  • Sip a "mocktail," like the Mock Sangria, which is 1/2 gallon grape juice, 2 cups orange juice, 2 cans lemon-lime soda, 1 sliced orange, 1 sliced lemon, and 1 jar drained cocktail cherries. Combine grape juice, orange juice, and soda in a large pitcher. Add orange slices, lemon slices, and cherries and serve over ice.
  • Keep warm.
  • Ask for help if you're too tired to cook, clean, or run errands.
  • Take frequent naps.
  • Clear your calendar of all unnecessary activities.

In winter months, take extra care in protecting your body and your skin. As your belly grows, you have more surface area to heat, which may leave you more susceptible to the cold. Your skin is also more likely to take a beating. Follow these tips to protect yourself from icy winds:

  • Check the weather before leaving the house so you are never left unprepared.
  • Wear layers in natural fabrics -- we recommend fleece.
  • Buy waterproof outer gear, or waterproof your own outer gear.
  • Accessorize for warmth -- wear gloves, scarves, hats, and ski socks.
  • Cover extremities that may be prone to frostbite -- ears, nose, chin, fingers, and toes.
  • Protect yourself from germs with hand washing.
  • Combat dry skin with mild soaps.
  • Soak in a tepid bath, as hot water can increase dryness and leave you feeling itchy.
  • Apply body moisturizer while skin is still damp from a bath or shower.
  • Use face moisturizer with an SPF that contains vitamins and protein.
  • Carry lotions and balms with you to protect your skin on the run.
  • Don't forget about your lips -- apply lip balm liberally to avoid cracking and bleeding.
  • Wear flat, well-gripped shoes, and try to steer clear of high heels.

Maternity clothes designed to display the beautiful pregnant body can be a lot less fun when the weather is at its worst. To be stylish and comfortable in the winter, institute some of the tips and tricks listed below:

  • Invest in a great pair of jeans and a white button-down.
  • Try to find clothing with Lycra or spandex -- leggings are in right now!
  • Stretch twill = 90 percent cotton, 100 percent comfy.
  • Long underwear! Trust us, it will be needed if you live where the wind chill abuses.
  • Follow Emmons' rule: "Invest in a pregnancy winter coat" (even though they seem like a waste of money). If you cannot afford one, try local thrift stores and new mom friends for secondhand coats.
  • Wool dresses, wool pants, wool skirts, and wool sweaters -- wool will keep you warm.
  • Layer your look so that you can add on and take off articles of clothing based on how hot your internal thermostat is running that day.
  • Find a sweater style and shape that suits your style, and buy a few in various colors.
  • Play with scarves as bright accessories to make your outfit pop.
  • Find a flat winter boot that is stylish enough to wear at work and at home.
  • Swap maternity clothes with friends to create a different look without spending money.
  • You can't go wrong with black.
  • Don't forget the power of great hoop earrings!

Spring Ahead

Don't let the winter weather get you down. Instead, think of all you have to look forward to during the warm-weather months. "The biggest benefit of a winter pregnancy is that you and baby can take long walks in the spring [and summer]," says Emmons. After a long and hard winter, Sasha gave birth to Chloe in April 2005. Mother and daughter like to frequent parks in their Brooklyn neighborhood when the weather is warm and the sun shining.

Originally published on AmericanBaby.com, January 2007.

This quiz is for entertainment and/or educational purposes only. All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professional, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.