Expectant mothers often become very familiar with looking after their body throughout their pregnancy and preparing for childbirth. It’s common for all pregnant women to experience some discomfort and difficulties at points during their pregnancy but this can be aggravated in the erratic weather characteristic of the Kansas City winter. As well as staying warm, it’s also important to keep your body healthy and your mind happy during the cold winter months.
Here are six tips to prepare for the winter weather and your pregnancy.
1. Stay Safe On the Ground
The icy, snowy or wet ground poses a falling risk to pregnant women. Always stay alert when walking around, using steps and even getting in and out of the car. In extremely icy conditions, you might want to consider staying in, when possible, until the weather improves. You can best prepare for the hazardous, wintery conditions by investing in some high-quality winter boots with traction, and having deicing salt handy to use on your driveway, sidewalk and home entrance.
Sometimes falls can happen even when careful, so if you fall, don’t panic. In most cases, it won't cause damage to you or your baby, but be sure to check with your doctor if you’re concerned.
Though it can be difficult to ask for help, don’t be afraid to ask for a hand where you need it!
2. Stay Hydrated
Don’t forget your water! We know that water keeps our bodies hydrated, but while pregnant, water has other amazing physiological purposes such as producing amniotic fluid, creating extra blood, carrying nutrients to you and your baby and creating tissue and organs.
It’s sometimes hard to remember to drink during the winter as our body doesn’t often feel the same level of dehydration we experience in warmer weather. But staying on top of water consumption during pregnancy has numerous important benefits such as decreasing constipation, reducing swelling, increasing energy, decreasing headaches and lethargy, maintaining body temperature and can decrease your risk of preterm labor and birth.
So don’t wait until you’re thirsty, keep the fluids coming.
3. Say No to Stress
During those brutal Kansas City winter months, it can sometimes feel hectic facing the cold weather, taking to the dangerous roads, shopping for the holidays and attending multiple holiday functions. Feel free to say no to things that are overwhelming or bring you unnecessary stress.
While some stress might be inevitable during your pregnancy, chronic elevated stress levels can have damaging effects to your fetus such as lower birthweight and subtle differences in fetal brain development.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed in the lead-up to the holidays, feel free to say no. The people who care about you will understand and want you to feel comfortable.
Struggling to stay relaxed? Here are some winter-approved relaxation activities to keep your stress levels down:
- Booking a prenatal massage
- Having a movie night with friends or a partner
- Reading a book or a magazine
- Meditation with music or aromatherapy
- Curling up with a tea or hot cocoa
- Taking a Prenatal Yoga class
If you’re worried about your stress levels during your winter pregnancy, talk to your doctor about some tools to manage stress during pregnancy.
4. Keep up the Exercise
Winter weather does not have to mean staying sedentary. Exercise during pregnancy has been shown to have remarkable effects on maternal health and birthing outcomes. While a run during sub-zero temperatures might not be everyone’s idea of a fun winter exercise, there are many winter-friendly exercise options to keep your body moving, your baby healthy and your mind happy.
If you’re a member of a gym, finding a workout class or hitting the machines is a good way to remain active while staying warm indoors. Most gyms have a trainer or coach to ask for advice, and as long as your workout isn’t too vigorous, aerobic, endurance and resistance training have all been shown to be safe for healthy pregnancies. Prenatal Yoga classes are also a great way to engage in exercise that’s tailor-made for you and your baby.
If you’re not a member of a gym, you can find videos online for prenatal yoga and other workouts to keep active. If the weather is non-threatening, going for a long walk is a good way to exercise.
For further questions on how to responsibly exercise during your pregnancy, see your doctor for advice.
5. Stay Warm
Blankets, bundling and layers are all key to staying warm during your winter pregnancy. We know that planning for a new child can be very expensive but you might want to consider investing in some items for your maternity winter wardrobe. Items such as a maternity coat and maternity leggings, jeans and sweaters can keep you both warm and comfortable during the winter months. There are many options for creating your fully stocked maternity wardrobe. Many might have friends and family willing to lend out pieces, but if not, cheap maternity clothes can often be found through online trading, buying and selling communities; and at Goodwill or second-hand stores.
6. Get a Flu Shot
Winter is flu season. Unfortunately the spread of germs can be unpredictable, so the best way to protect you and your baby is to get a flu shot. A flu shot does not take long and is covered by most insurances. As well as arranging a flu shot at your doctor appointment, you can also get it done at your local pharmacy. For further precaution against germs, it’s important to wash your hands often, stay away from sick people, and carry hand sanitizer.
Dr. Crystal M. Newby, MD is a physician at Kansas City ObGyn. She received her medical degree from the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Medicine. Dr. Newby married her fellow Kansas native high school sweetheart and they have 3 daughters.