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Elena Donovan Mauer

5 Ways to Survive a Winter Pregnancy

Maybe you thought it would be easier than in the summer, since it isn’t hot out. Eh, not so much.

Yes, winter can be a magical wonderland—but when you're expecting, it also brings its share of seasonal hazards. Dehydration, freezing temps and icy sidewalks can all get in the way of you enjoying your winter pregnancy. Here are some hot fixes to get you through the cold snap.

Winter woe #1: You’re dehydrated.
It’s not in the 90s, so you’d think dehydration wouldn’t be a biggie right now, but winter air can be really dry—and when you’re going in and out of buildings with heat blasting, you’re likely to find yourself overheated and sweaty.

Hot fix: Drink more water than you think you need to. “Dehydration can cause problems ranging from  lightheadedness to preterm labor, so it’s really important to drink plenty of water,” says Andrew Ross, MD, an ob-gyn in Englewood, Colorado. “I tell patients to have a couple liters more per day than they did pre-pregnancy.” Getting sick of water all the time? You can switch things up and sip some hot decaf tea (just run any herbal tea ingredients past your doctor first).

Winter woe #2: It’s no fun to be outside.
Probably the most highly recommended form of  exercise for pregnant women is walking, but when the weather’s not great, you might find yourself glued to the couch instead of on your feet (we don’t blame you—it's cozy there). But remember: Physical activity can help with pregnancy aches and pains, and it’s good for baby too. Don’t neglect it.

Hot fix: Take a prenatal exercise class. There’s no better motivation for a fitness session than knowing you’ve already paid for it. So sign up for a series of classes designed just for moms-to-be. “Yoga is a great choice for pregnant women because it can help alleviate back pain and even help you control your breathing, which is extremely helpful when it comes time to deliver baby,” says Hetal Gor, MD, FACOG, an ob-gyn at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, New Jersey. (And you just might make some new friends too!)

The other issue with not spending time outside is not getting enough sunlight—which can really affect your mood (yup, even more than those pesky hormones are already affecting it). “Make sure you’re getting vitamin D (400 IUs per day),” says Eleanor Friele, MD, an ob-gyn at Swedish Medical Group in Seattle. Not sure whether you are? Ask your doctor if you should be taking a supplement.

Winter woe #3: Germs are everywhere! We know: Now that you’re pregnant, you’re terrified of getting sick—because it can be tough to figure out  which medications are safe to take, and because, well, you’re already feeling not exactly your usual self.

Hot fix: Be anal about hand-washing. Really, the best way to not catch something is to keep your hands clean and to avoid touching your nose and mouth—you just don’t know what germs were on that elevator button! And you really don’t want to hang out in close quarters with someone who’s been coughing and sneezing. Politely excuse yourself.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pregnant women get the influenza vaccine to help prevent the flu. Your doctor might also suggest you get a booster to the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, depending on when you’ve had the immunization in the past. So it’s worth it to ask her opinion and decide whether you should get the shots.

Winter woe #4: Sidewalks are slippery.
If you’re an urban mama-to-be and you’re trekking to work (or elsewhere) in the ice and slush, you’re probably pretty freaked out about slipping and falling. And you should be! You’re already more prone to falling, since pregnancy changes your center of gravity, and while it’s rare that a blow to the abdomen leads to complications, it’s still possible.

Hot fix: Invest in some flat, no-slip boots. “Be sure to wear good, supportive boots—not high heels,” says Shirley Moore, a certified nurse-midwife at Midwifery & Women’s Health in Forest Park, Illinois. “And avoid carrying anything too heavy.” If you fall and hit your belly, call your ob-gyn, just to make sure everything’s okay with you and baby.

Winter woe #5: Your warmest coat doesn’t fit.
Sure, it’s fun to buy maternity clothes, but heavy winter coats can get pretty darn pricey. And it can be tough to rationalize spending hundreds on something you’ll only get a few months of use out of (if that—it all depends on just how cold it gets this winter and how long it stays that way).

Hot fix: Lots and lots of layers. You still probably should get a winter coat, especially if you’re in the third trimester during the coldest months. But it doesn’t have to be the most expensive, down-filled coat on the market. To make it warmer, wear a cozy, oversize sweater underneath, grab some toasty mittens and a hat, and maybe even some thermal clothing you can wear again postbaby (heck, raid your partner’s ski gear!). And remember: You might want to wear at least one light layer underneath the warm ones so you can shed the bulky sweater when you find yourself in one of those buildings with blasting heat.

Updated December 2016

PHOTO: iStock