When the weather outside is frightful, there are a number of steps pregnant women can take – from vaccination and exercise precautions to environmental and car safety – to ensure a safe and healthy winter season.
1. Get your vaccines
The flu is more likely to cause severe illness and complications in pregnant women because of the changes than in women who are not pregnant. Some immunizations, such as Influenza (flu) and Pertussis, can and should be given during pregnancy to prevent severe complications of this illness. It is recommended that pregnant women should get their anti-flu and anti-pertussis vaccine at any stage of the pregnancy.
Watch this video from the March of Dimes to learn more about the flu shot:
To learn more watch the CDC video with Dr. Fry
2. Avoid people and children who are sick
Pregnant women easily get sick because your immune system is decreased in pregnancy. This means that you can easily get sick. You need to try and avoid others that have active colds and illness. To help stop the spreading of bacteria and illness good hand washing can reduce you change of becoming infected with a potentially harmful illness
3. Wear correct footwear and walk slowly
The weather conditions can make walking outside a challenge, especially if there is snow or ice. Wearing proper footwear is essential for safety and comfort. When you are pregnant your body undergoes changes. One of these changes is in your balance which means that you have the potential to fall and walking on snow and ice can increase the chance of falling. Taking the time to wear proper shoes when the conditions outside are slippery will help in preventing some falls.
4. Avoid driving in hazardous conditions
Injuries from car accidents are the number one reasons pregnant women have traumatic accidents. Most New Englanders are not new to driving in the snow, but it is this time of the year that many of the accidents happen due to terrible weather conditions. Despite how good you can drive in the snow or on ice, you can not control how good or bad other drivers are, many people injured in care accidents are not the ones that caused it but happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
5. Wear your seatbelt correctly
In the wintertime when the roads are icy and snowy there are more risks for car accidents and injuries. Some of the most common injuries from car accidents include one from the steering wheel, seat belt and dashboard. Wearing the seatbelt correctly can save your life and the baby’s. This involves placing the lap belt underneath your belly and the shoulder strap between your breasts. When the seat belt is not worn correctly the risk to the unborn baby can be fatal.
6. Avoid starting any winter sports that involve balancing
The idea of ice skating can seem like a great activity to get outdoors in the winter months but before you lace up your skates and hit the ice consider the safety of your baby. Pregnancy changes your balance the further you get along as the uterus grows upward and outward. Falling onto your belly can cause injury to the placenta which affects the baby.
7. Avoid winter sports where you can easily hurt yourself or the baby
There are many sports such as down hill skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing. These types of sports should be avoided because of the risk of injury to the baby. As your uterus grows and rises out of the pelvis it will become important that injury to your belly is avoided. Falling onto you belly may not cause you any pain or discomfort, but there can be injury to the placenta which can affect the baby. A safer alternative would be to enjoy cross country skiing at a slow pace. If you have a fall onto your belly should always tell your healthcare provider.
8. Leave your winter footwear outside
Many places use deicing or anti icing agents to melt away the snow and ice. The agents can contain many different types of chemicals that can get on your footwear. You want to minimize these chemicals getting into your home, carpets and rugs where your baby will soon be crawling around.
9. When shoveling take breaks
Every winter women hurt themselves shoveling snow. Pregnancy softens the ligaments and puts you at risk for injury. When shoveling snow, it is better to go slow and take many breaks in between and if you can get someone to help, even better.
10. Don’t forget to drink water
The winter months you can tend to forget to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water will help you in maintain a healthy state for both you and the baby.