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Should You Really Shovel Snow While Pregnant?

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By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Updated March 2, 2017
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With winter storm Juno barreling into the northeast, we’ve seen the same question pop up in our Community again and again: is it safe to shovel snow while pregnant? Bumpies seem to have come to a consensus: you can but probably shouldn’t. And we couldn’t agree more.

During the first and second trimesters, it’s like any other physical activity. How much you can do depends on your pre-pregnancy fitness ability. (But you will want to be careful of your footing; if it’s especially icy, stay indoors.) The New England Pregnancy Center recommends shoveling slowly and taking plenty of breaks.

Bumpies seemed to be on point with this one when Bethy84 posed the question: “Do you suppose if I take it slow and easy, it’s kosher for me and my son to shovel the sidewalks?”

“Just be careful of turning your back and how you bend — our lower back muscles are super-relaxed now and can very easily get strained or pulled,” answers MissStacyLynn. “Yes, I pulled a back muscle (2-3 weeks of recovery) a few weeks ago from moving (light) furniture and nursery items.”

“I relegate all the heavy lifting to DH in pregnancy. I will sweep snow. I will clean off the car. I will not shovel heavy, wet, icy snow,” says user Pepomntpat.

“I shoveled a lot when pregnant with my son; we had a terrible winter and I was working in the schools, so I’d have the day off and my husband would be at work. Go slow, do a little at a time, don’t lift too much and you should be okay,” recommends user MA&CB.

Why are your muscles so relaxed and prone to sprains? Robert Wool, MD, tells The Bump that during pregnancy, your body secretes relaxin , a hormone that loosens ligaments to prep your body and birth canal for labor. No matter what shape you’re in, this can pose problems while shoveling.

“Even if you’re physically fit, there’s potential for back and other musculoskeletal injury,” Joseph Apuzzio, MD, the director of maternal fetal medicine at New Jersey Medical School, told  CNN. Plus, torso twisting and back bending become more difficult as your bump gets bigger.

So if you’re looking to sit out on shoveling duty, playing the pregnancy card is totally fair.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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