How to stay safe and active during your winter pregnancy
Wintertime can be tough when you’re expecting. You may be tempted to just huddle under the comforter and hibernate. Between the lack of daylight, the busy holidays and the fatigue and aches of pregnancy, you probably avoid getting outdoors as much as possible. But being cooped up could lead to a bad case of the blues. Besides, once you’re dressed right, you’ll enjoy the crisp air. And the transformed winter scenery – whether it’s sparkling snow or lush greenery – will make getting outdoors worthwhile.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you head out into the cold. Most importantly, you are more susceptible to cold exposure during pregnancy, so prevention is key. Secondly, you should know that your body does an excellent job of keeping your fetus warm, so even if you are shivering, your fetus is doing OK. Lastly, make sure to check with your personal health care provider before participating in any strenuous physical activity.
Cold Exposure and Pregnancy
During pregnancy, you may feel colder than usual and need a few extra layers to bundle up. There are several reasons why. For one, you sweat more during pregnancy, even when it is cool outside, so your skin can get quite cold. Also, your belly is big and you simply have a greater surface area (or more skin) through which to lose heat. Plus, your elevated hormone levels may contribute to your feeling chilled.
During pregnancy, you may feel colder than usual and need a few extra layers to bundle up.
Stress and dehydration are also known to make cold illness worse. This means that simply skipping snacks and hydration breaks can be dangerous, especially when you are exposed to the elements. You need extra calories and fluids during pregnancy. Keeping your blood sugar up by stopping regularly for healthy snacks, such as crackers, nuts and fruit, and drinking at least a liter of water for every hour of activity, will keep you safer outdoors. Breaks, especially if you can warm up in the cabin or with a hot drink, also will keep your spirits and energy up so that you can enjoy your time outdoors.
Exercise also is important. When you get cold, activating your muscles by moving around and getting your heart pumping will help your body generate heat. If you feel your fingers and toes getting too cold or if you start to feel them become numb, wiggle, squeeze and massage them to get the blood flowing again. Frostbite and frostnip are consequences of cold exposure. Most commonly, cold injury affects susceptible areas, like the ears, nose, fingers or toes. As these parts get cold, they get less blood flow. With frostnip, the outermost layer of the skin is affected, causing redness and temporary numbness. With frostbite, the deeper layers of the skin are damaged, so injury may be permanent. The key is prevention with special attention to these vulnerable areas.
Dressing for the Weather
Wearing layers and fabrics appropriate for the temperature are important. It doesn’t have to be below freezing to be too cold. Remember that you can get cold if you’re wearing a tank top and are hit with a freak spring hailstorm on the trail. Any experienced outdoors person will tell you that layers do the trick.