It's amazing being pregnant any time of year, of course, but winter brings on a few special challenges. How to stay comfy and minimize mama-to-be worries when winter hits? Read on for our smartest tips.
Get the Right Shoes
Truth? We obsess about slipping on ice or snow even when we're not pg—so what's a preggo gal to do about this common winter hazard? First, invest in a good, stable pair of rubber-soled shoes or boots with good traction (i.e., deep treads)—you'll walk more confidently. Your "center of gravity is off and changing when pregnant," notes Lillian Schapiro, MD, an ob-gyn in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia, so "you need good shoes whether on ice or not." If you do slip and take a spill, don't worry—in general, the baby is well-protected in the womb, Schapiro says, "and you have a great maternal instinct to put out your arm to protect the baby if you fall."
In the event that you do take a tumble? If you're far enough along that you've been feeling movement, feeling the baby move again is the best assurance that everything is okay, says Schapiro. If you don't feel the baby move, call your doc—ditto if your water breaks or there is bleeding.
Just how intimidating the weather is depends on where you live—but it's likely that during the winter months you'll be indoors more than out. Staying in doesn't have to be a bad thing, though, especially when you're taking advantage of the downtime to get stuff done:
* Get crackin' on thank-you notes.
* Organize the nursery.
* Catch up on your reading -- labor and delivery books, baby name books, or baby development books.
If you're sick, take something—just make sure iyou check with your doctor about which over-the-counter meds are pregnancy-safe. (Skip echinacea and zinc, as they have not been studied enough on pregnant women.) And then settle in for the long haul. "When you're pregnant, your immune system is suppressed so anything you get may last longer," says Schapiro. Plus, flow to blood vessels is increased, especially those around your sinuses, so you may feel more congested. One more thing to watch out for: Since colds can last longer, be on the lookout for your cold becoming pneumonia, says Schapiro. A severe cough or a fever can be signs. If you're worried or if you just can't shake the cold, see your doc. As for vitamins during the winter, you don't need any extra on top of what you're already taking—popping your prenatal pills is sufficient.
Now's not the time to come into the office sniffling, sneezing and coughing away. If you're under the weather, stay home and let your immune system reboot. "You're exhausted to begin when you're not feeling well, let alone when you're pregnant," says Marjorie Treadwell, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Perinatal Assessment Center at the University of Michigan Health System. "It's important to take care of yourself and listen to your body." Plus, colds and other bugs can hit you harder during pregnancy, so you may feel worse or taker longer to recuperate than in the past. Plowing through your inbox will just make you feel worse—and you probably won't be productive at work anyway—so take a day to cuddle up on the couch, nap with abandon and sip plenty of steamy chicken soup. Your body (and boss) will appreciate it.
If you'll be late in your second trimester or in your third during the coldest winter months, don't try to squeeze your expanding bod into your regular winter coat. You'll feel better about yourself, and will be way more comfortable (and warmer), if you shell out for a real maternity coat. They can be a little tricky to find, so don't wait till the depths of winter to start looking—buy one early or online. Isabella Oliver is our splurgey pick (isabellaoliver.com), but for more affordable options, try Old Navy, Gap, or Target. Or consider going retro with a forgiving, trapeze-style vintage number.
Dealing with the itchy belly—which many women experience as skin stretches to accommodate the growing baby—may be more of an issue in the winter months when skin can be especially dry. Keep it moisturized with a basic over-the-counter moisturizer like Nivea and Eucerin, but make sure you're drinking tons of water, too. "The pregnancy glow is a not-too-dry complexion," notes Schapiro. Make sure you're hydrating from within as well as without.
When your doctor says it's time, the last thing you want is to be fumbling with a map or punching directions into your GPS. Mapping out your path to the hospital (from home and work) is a smart move any time of year, but it's especially critical now. It's harder to read street signs in a snowstorm, and you don't want to be stuck in icy conditions wondering if you're going the right way. It's a good idea to plan for your basic Route A, plus routes B and C for things like bad weather or traffic.
Buy these three maternity pieces and you'll never be at a loss. Black pants, black blazer, great jeans (especially if you can wear jeans to work). Pants and jeans will be your wardrobe workhorses—pair them with different tops and you can wear them multiple times a week. We love the black blazer because it's an instant wardrobe upgrade—wear it unbuttoned (more flattering) over anything, from tee shirts to sweaters to long winter dresses. Plus, it hides all kinds of this-top-doesn't-quite-fit-me-anymore sins.
"If you're in your second or third trimester, definitely get a flu shot," says Schapiro. With your suppressed immune system, you'll want to take any kind of help you can get to stay healthy. In years past, maybe you didn't always get around to it. This year, you should. Make that appointment now.
Stretch your pre-pregnancy winter wardrobe (no pun intended) by picking up a slew of long, inexpensive, stretchy tanks and tee shirts in basic colors. Wear them underneath your regular non-maternity sweaters to cover up the increasing distance between the top of your pants and the bottom of your top. You won't be able to do this during your last few weeks (you'll probably be too big for the sweaters to fit right) but it will save you lots of money in the long run, as you can put off buying pricey maternity sweaters for a few more weeks or months. And you can wear the tees layered or not after baby arrives, too. Brands we love? Try Michael Stars (shop the regular line or the maternity line)—or go with Old Navy Maternity and stock up on goes-with-everything white and black.
If dry winter air is wrecking havoc on your pregnancy glow, don't forget to slather on moisturizer every morning. Hormones can affect skin differently during pregnancy, triggering acne for some women and dry, itchy skin for others. "Make sure it has SPF too," says Dr. Treadwell. "You may not realize how much the sun reflects off snow, and pregnancy can make your skin much more sensitive to the sun." Too much sun exposure can up your risk for pregnancy skin discoloration (called chloasma), not to mention skin cancer and wrinkles down the road.
While it's true that no one (except you and the hubby) will be peeking at your toes on a regular basis, pedicures, with that great leg and foot massage, are good for your circulation. Plus, that extra little bit of pampering will help boost your mood, generally improving your overall preggo demeanor. And yes, manicures and pedicures are safe during pregnancy—chemicals don't get absorbed into your nail beds. Just be mindful of possible nausea from harsh fumes. Choose a well-ventilated salon or grab a station by the door.
Can't (or don't want to) get out to the stores? Take advantage of this shut-in time to get to know some amazing online shops and stock up that way. Of course stores like Babies "R" Us, Buy Buy Baby, Target and Wal-Mart will have most of the baby gear and clothes you need, but you can also look beyond the traditional outlets for cool nursery ideas. West Elm, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and even PB Teen have great rugs, lamps and storage options for a more sophisticated look. For clothes, try Old Navy and Baby Gap to stock up on affordable basics, Tea Collection for mix-and-match separates, H&M and TopShop baby for of-the-minute fashions, and Zutano for gender-neutral stuff that's not boring.
Put those nesting urges to good use and try out all the recipes you've been stashing over the years. Make a double portion, eat one now and freeze the other. You'll be all set for when baby arrives and you have no time to shower, let alone whip up lasagna.
Escape winter altogether! As long as you're still firmly in the safe zone when it comes to flying (weeks 14-28 are considered best; check with your doctor if you're in your last trimester)—head south for a tropical babymoon vacation with your partner. It'll not only be a great break from routine and the dreary winter sky, it'll also be fab quality time for the two of you before baby arrives. Where to go? Check out our babymoon slideshow below.
You're probably skipping the wine and holiday sparklies these days, so make sure you have a great alternative at hand. When everyone else is toasting with bubbly, don't abstain. Instead raise a mug of winter's perfect beverage—steamy hot cocoa. First, you need your liquids, and hot chocolate counts! Second, chocolate's packed with powerful antioxidants, which help prevent cancer and heart disease—in fact, chocolate has twice the antioxidants of red wine. (Yes!)
For a totally rich, decadent cup, try Jacques Torres' amazing hot chocolate (a mix made from real chocolate, not cocoa powder; get it at mrchocolate.com).
A tip: Make it with milk for extra calcium. Then drink up.
Don't let subzero temperature affect your staying in shape. Rent some prenatal DVDs from the library or Netflix or buy a few to have on hand. Try a mix of yoga, Pilates and low-impact cardio; experts can't stress enough how essential exercise is to a healthy pregnancy. In fact, new government guidelines now recommend that expecting moms get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week (that's a half-hour a day for five days). Not only will working out regularly make it easier to lose your pregnancy pounds down the road, research shows it can reduce pregnancy complications and even make labor shorter. Plus, exercise is a known mood-booster (perfect to help fight those winter blues and pregnancy mood swings you may be more prone to these days). A few we like: The Complete Fit & Healthy Pregnancy Workout with Gabrielle Reece, Tracey Mallett's 3 in 1 Pregnancy System and Denise Austin: Fit & Firm Pregnancy. Stock up and get busy while you while away the cold weather.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. 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.