Weathering a winter pregnancy

Story highlights

  • Winter's cooler weather could be a boon for pregnant women's warmer body temperatures
  • An expectant mother's itchy skin can get positively sandpapery in winter
  • Thinking about shoveling the driveway after an overnight snowfall? Think again

One advantage of being pregnant in the winter is that the cooler temperatures may balance out your blazing internal thermostat. But there are precautions you'll need to take to stay healthy and comfortable.

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Soothe sandpaper skin
Dry skin plagues nearly everyone in winter due to low humidity and frosty air. Moms-to-be may be doubly distressed, however, since stretched skin tends to be itchy.

For relief, opt for a mild soap, such as Dove, or a cleanser like Cetaphil. Soaking in lukewarm water and an oatmeal bath (Aveeno is good) can also help. Use a fragrance--and dye-free moisturizer--all over after bathing, while skin is still damp.

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Combat the flu
Research has found that expectant women are at an increased risk of hospitalization for flu-related conditions like pneumonia. So the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all women who will be pregnant during flu season receive a flu shot. The injection is safe to get at any point in pregnancy, according to the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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Bundle upYour body heat is running high these days, so you may not be dressing appropriately for the elements, says Edward Maeder, M.D., an adjunct professor of obstetrics at the University of Minnesota. You don't need to dress so you're sweating, but be sure to cover extremities prone to frostbite: ears, nose, chin, fingers, and toes.

Shun the shovel
Shoveling snow involves heavy lifting and twisting the torso -- no mean feat when your belly's in the way.

If you're in your third trimester, hire someone to clear your walkway. Otherwise, "even if you're physically fit, there's potential for back and other musculoskeletal injury," says Joseph Apuzzio, M.D., director of maternal fetal medicine at New Jersey Medical School.

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Play safely
Downhill skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating are out, particularly in your final trimester. However, you can enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, as long as your doctor approves.

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