In the winter, there may be peace on earth, but it doesn’t begin with the pregnant woman. The snow on the ground doesn’t just make a pretty picture; it presents a danger and a burden for a woman only trying to stay upright and unharmed while her baby grows in her belly.
It may be the most wonderful time of year for most, but for moms-to-be winter is the season for sickness, for nosebleeds and itching. While some my revel in the holidays, for preggos, the travel can be treacherous, the clothes can be confining, and the food and drinks can be dangerous.
On a normal day gift shopping can be exhausting, but with all her energy sapped by her growing baby — not to mention the swollen feet — a day at the mall can cause an entirely new level of fatigue. And adding another few balls in the air to juggle, pregnancy brain can make things a lot worse. Worse, though, is the cabin fever that can set in as the snow piles up. We say joy to the world, but for the pregnant woman, it may be a blue Christmas.
Here are 15 struggles of being pregnant in winter.
15 Tight Boots
While there are certain drawbacks to being pregnant in the summer, one of the biggest benefits is the ability to throw on a pair of flip flops. That’s so much easier than having to worry about keeping your tootsies warm in big, old boots.
The belly can get in the way while a pregnant woman strains to try to put on her shows any time of the year, but the footwear tends to be more cumbersome as the temperature drops. Pregnancy also tends to make women swell and retain water, especially in their feet and lower legs, so last year’s boots may feel quite tight, especially at the end of a long day Christmas shopping.
14 Unbundling For The Bathroom
Remember that scene in “A Christmas Story” when Ralphie’s little brother gets all bundled up for the snow, wrapped up so tight he can’t put his arms down and he mouth covered by the long scarf wrapped around his neck? When the scarf finally gets moved out of the way, we learn that the little guy has to go to the bathroom.
Well, imagine the wild rush to get unbundled if your baby kicks your bladder and you need the toilet right away. Pregnancy can be a problem for moms in all seasons because of the pressure that the baby puts on the urinary system. But when you have to take off four or five layers to get your pants down, it can cause more than one mini-accident.
13 No New Year’s Toast
During all the festivities, pregnant women will be missing out on one of the time-honored holiday traditions — a little nip to stay warm. Alcohol is frowned upon during pregnancy, although studies and doctors disagree on whether a small amount of imbibing is OK.
That means no spiked cider, no rum in the egg nog, no mulled wine and — worst of all — no New Year’s champagne. Fetal alcohol syndrome can cause birth defects and lifelong learning possibilities for a youngster, so we agree that it is worth putting down the beverages. But we know that it may be tough to get through the holidays with the in-laws without a glass of wine.
If you want to toast in the New Year, try an alcohol-free alternative. It may give you the bubbly concoction you crave without any risk of hurting the baby. That is, if you aren’t too tired and can make it to midnight.
12 Skip The Holiday Spread
One of the best parts of any holiday party is the buffet line. But pregnant women should be careful before partaking in the hors d’oeuvres. Many times the snacks and dips are left out to munch on all day, but that can be dangerous for women whose immune systems are weakened during pregnancy. And any soft cheeses are definitely out due to the risk of listeria, a bacteria that can harm the baby.
Even the holiday turkey and brisket can be a danger if it isn’t properly cooked to kill the bacteria, and the stuffing can be especially tricky. Moms-to-be should check their meat with a meat thermometer and make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Any less and that could make her sick and even endanger the baby.
11 Winter Sports Woes
For the athletic mom, pregnancy may be a bit tough. That’s because some sports are out of the question if there is a bun in the oven — and winter sports can be some of the worst.
There will be no romantic ice skating in Rockefeller Center or on your favorite local pond. Downhill skiing is way to dangerous, as a fall could harm the baby, although cross-country skiing may be OK. Even for the athletes who are experienced in the sports, doctors will recommend they sit out a season because of the risks to the baby, which include the placenta detaching and causing premature birth or worse. And please, don’t even think about ice hockey.
10 Itchy Wool
Winter clothes can be pretty itchy for anybody, and when you add on the dry, stretched skin that come with pregnancy and you may be in for a scratch-fest this winter.
Itching is a big issue for many pregnant women, especially on the baby bump, where the skin is stretching. Sometimes, hormones can cause some extra itching on the palms and bottom of the feet, and any woman who experiences eczema is likely to feel even more impacts during the nine moths a baby is on board.
Those are the normal kids of itching that can go on during pregnancy, not to mention the feeling that happens when you put on a wool sweater. But there is also a severe condition that could cause the itching to go into overdrive. Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy is a serious liver problem, and many times itching is the only symptom, so if things get intense, talk to your doctor right away. If nothing else, you need to get a good lotion.
9 Baby, I Have A Cold
Cold and flu season is never easy, but for pregnant women, it can be especially awful. Some pregnant women get a stuffed nose for no apparent reason. It’s called pregnancy rhinitis, and it’s an annoyance that doctors can’t do much about. But if other symptoms such as sneezing, headache and body aches come on, the common cold can be even more miserable.
We hate to tell you, but if you are pregnant, you can’t do anything about it. Sudafed isn’t a good idea when you are pregnant, and recently research has cast aspersions on the one drug that women thought they could use for pain relief — acetomenaphin. There are some drugs that are considered safe, so talk to your doctor. And if you have a fever — especially during the first trimester — you should get checked out.
To add insult to injury, pregnant women are more susceptible to colds than normal because their body is working harder on creating a new life than on their immune system. Good look staying well this winter.
8 Shopping Season
Just a few short months ago, a trip to the mall was a treat. What woman wouldn’t relish a day shopping? A pregnant one, that is for sure.
The job of growing a baby is an exhausting one by itself. At some point during her pregnancy, every woman ends up wanting nothing more than to take a nap. But during the winter, that has to wait so that all of the holiday shopping can get done. And of course nothing helps a day on your feet like swollen ankles.
Don’t worry. Most malls these days have awesome massage chairs that can help you feel better in exchange for a few quarters. Be sure to take plenty of breaks and do your best to pace yourself. Remember that your health and the health of your baby is more important than checking everything off of your list. Do your best and leave the rest to Santa.
7 Loads Of Layers
While it may be cold outside, pregnant women have an automatic heater running, thanks to the bun in their oven. And while you may need to bundle up in the snow, while you are shopping or visiting your dad, a mom-to-be is more likely to feel hot than cold. The yo-yo can be enough to cause the sweat to freeze between hot flashes.
The best way to dress for the winter is to use layers. A thin t-shirt on the bottom may be a life-saver during the moments when you feel like its 105 degrees. Then add on a long-sleeve shirt, maybe a plaid and a sweater before donning the coat. Leggings may be called for under under jeans for the coldest days.
Layering may keep a mom-to-be comfortable in the hot and cold ups and downs of pregnant winter, but it can also mean more laundry at the end of the day. We hope you can figure out a way to stay comfortable no matter the situation.
6 Christmas Wishes
Moms-to-be will learn at Christmas that the holiday is really only about the kids, even with they haven’t been born yet. A pregnant mom may have her eye on a new set of towels for the guest bathroom, but she is more likely to find baby bath toys in her stocking. She may have a sparkly necklace at the top of her wish list, but the only sparkle that her parents are thinking of is the twinkle in their grandchild’s eye upon his arrival. So mom is more likely to get a few items off her baby registry than the jewelry she would prefer.
Don’t get us wrong. We hope that mom gets some pampering her last Christmas before the baby comes. But we think that it is more likely that the holiday season will be like one long baby shower. While every gift will be appreciated, it will quickly teach the new mother what every future Christmas will be like for the next decade to come — all about the baby.
5 Nose Bleeds
Winter is the season for nosebleeds. The dry air can irritate the nose of just about anyone, especially if they have been doing a lot of blowing due to the sniffles. For pregnant women, the increased blood circulation also creates the possibility of more nosebleeds. Put the two together and this winter could be bloody.
Doctors recommend that pregnant women who are susceptible to nosebleeds use a humidifier at home. That can help to moisten the air and decrease the likelihood of a bloody mess.
If the bleed doesn’t stop after a few minutes of pinching the nostrils toward the center of the nose, there could be something else going on. The danger is especially there for women with high blood pressure, so talk to your doctor if you suspect a problem.
4 Weepy Holiday Movies
There is nothing like a good holiday movie to get you in the spirit, but when you are pregnant, even the comedies can be hard on the hormones. Even without a baby on board many find it hard to hold back the tears when Clarence gets his wings in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and Rosemary Clooney makes everyone’s eyes glisten during “White Christmas.” But if you find yourself weeping while James Caan searches for Will Ferrell during “Elf” or when the Bumpuses dogs eat the turkey in “A Christmas Story,” you know that those pregnancy hormones have gotten ahold of you.
Christmas movie marathons can be hard on a pregnant mom-to-be, but sometimes a good cry can make everything feel a bit better. If it gets too rough, turn off Lifetime and turn on the radio. Just change the station when “The Christmas Shoes” comes on or the waterworks will start all over again.
3 To Grandmother’s House We Go
When a woman is pregnant, sometimes a trip to the grocery store feels like a distance to far. But during the holiday season, families are expected to travel. Next year, when the baby will expect Santa to come to her house, you might get to stay put, but this year, to grandmother’s house we go.
Traveling while pregnant can be uncomfortable and even downright dangerous. It can be difficult to find a position that isn’t hard on the back, and a trip by car can have hours tacked on by all of the stops needed to allow mom all the bathroom breaks she needs.
Please note that during any extended travel — by plane or car — a pregnant woman is at risk of developing blood clots. The best way to avoid that is to take frequent breaks and walk around. Talk to your doctor if you are setting off for a destination more than a few hours away.
2 Pregnancy Brain On Holiday
Between gift shopping, recipes and all of the other daily activities that go on during the winter months, it’s a wonder how any woman gets through without a dropping one of the many balls she has in the air. For a woman with a bun in the oven, pregnancy brain makes it impossible.
If you haven’t experienced a moment when your thought leaves your head as you are speaking it, then you have a lot to look forward to this year. Studies have proven that pregnancy brain is a real issue. It can cause a perfectly good morning to tailspin into a search for the keys only to finally find them in the doorknob.
The fog that already drains the brain during the winter will get even foggier. We just hope that the smoke alarm doesn’t go off because you burn the presents while the cookie dough sits under the tree.
1 Cabin Fever
When it’s cold outside and snow and ice are on the ground, sometimes it’s best for a pregnant woman to stay indoors and wait it out. But then days turn into weeks and pretty soon she can be pretty miserable. Cabin fever afflicts many people during the winter, as people crave the vitamin D of the sun and the social interaction that occurs when people are out and about. For a hormonal pregnant woman, it can reach supersonic levels.
While we understand the caution of slipping in the icy conditions, we highly recommend trying to get outside every day so that the cabin fever doesn’t set in. A little bit of exercise is good, and a chance to breath the fresh crisp air could do wonders to help you get through the struggles of being pregnant in the winter.
We know it can be tough, but remember the blessing that is growing inside you, and be grateful. The seasons will change, the temperatures will rise, and your baby will be here soon.