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Baby, it’s cold outside
Chilly weather may make you want to snuggle up at home, but winter is full of activities both indoors and out, and being pregnant is no excuse to miss out on the fun! To keep both yourself and your baby safe and healthy, you're probably taking a little extra care to avoid stumbling on ice or snow. It's best to stow skis and ice skates for the duration – the chance of trauma is too great. You'll also want to say no thanks to certain holiday foods, starting with that glass of bubbly at midnight.
Some winter activities are worth skipping, while others only warrant caution. Here are a few risks you may want to avoid.
By Denise Schipani
Get someone else to do most of the shoveling this winter – call it a pregnancy perk! You might be fine in the first few months, but as your bump gets bigger, your center of gravity shifts. That plus icy ground increases the likelihood of slips and falls, which could endanger your baby. Volunteer to make the post-shoveling cocoa instead.
Downhill skiing and snowboarding
Even if you're an experienced skier or boarder, these activities come with a significant risk for both you and your baby. They require balance, something your growing midsection compromises. And both come with the chance of falling or slamming into an obstacle like a tree. Your baby's pretty well protected in your uterus, but that doesn't mean you want to risk a broken bone or worse for you.
Missing the mountains? Cross-country skiing is a safer bet, or try snowshoeing instead! You'll be steadier on your feet, but still enjoy the fresh air and a great workout.
Now's not the time to work on your triple toe loop! Early in your pregnancy, if you're already pretty good on skates, go for it. But take care as your belly grows and your balance gets wonky. A serious tumble on the ice puts you in danger of placental abruption or preterm labor.
Zooming downhill on your Flexible Flyer is just too risky when you're pregnant. You don't want to slam into a tree or another sled, or fall off halfway. Cheer on friends and family from the top of the hill or go for a winter walk instead.
Basketball (and other indoor contact sports)
Indoor sports like basketball come with a risk of contact: between you and the floor, you and another player – or between your belly and the ball. Oof! Better to support your team from the sidelines, unless you're just shooting a few hoops on your own or practicing your dribbling skills. Sports like hockey, volleyball, and soccer carry the same risks.
Hot tubs and saunas
The water in most hot tubs is between 100 and 104 degrees – too hot for you, mama! Early in pregnancy, overheating may hurt your baby's development. Later on, the risk of overheating remains and is compounded by the fact that when your temperature rises, your heart rate increases and blood flow to your uterus is reduced, which stresses your baby. The same goes for steam rooms – stay out for now.
Eating raw cookie dough
Making cookies for the holiday swap? Resist the urge to sneak a pinch of raw dough, especially if there are eggs in the recipe. You'll run the risk – however small – of contracting food-borne illness from the bacteria Salmonella. Getting sick is one thing, but that kind of infection poses a grave risk to your developing baby. Hang on, the cookies will be out of the oven soon enough!
Bingeing on chocolate
Never fear, chocoholics – a little bit won't hurt! The worry is overdoing it and crowding out other, more nutrient-dense calories you need. There's a concern about caffeine, too. Though a moderate amount of caffeine is fine when you're pregnant, be aware that, for example, nine Hershey's Kisses contain 10 mg, and your daily intake should stay below 200 mg (about the amount in one 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee). Finally, if you have or are at risk of gestational diabetes, you should watch your sugar intake from all sources, including chocolate.
Rocking really high heels
Heading to a holiday party and eyeing those sexy stilettos? You may want to opt for comfort over high fashion when you're expecting. The steeper the heels, the harder you have to work to maintain balance. At the same time, pregnancy hormones leave ligaments looser and more stretched, and you can really injure yourself if you stumble (hello, twisted ankle!). Go for cute flats or lower, more stable heels.
Raiding the holiday buffet
Party food is everywhere, but avoid sampling certain seasonal items like homemade eggnog, which often contains raw eggs (and a risk of Salmonella). Other foods that may pose pregnancy dangers often show up on holiday buffets, like deli meats and unpasteurized cheeses. Even foods that are otherwise safe can pose risks if they're improperly cooked or left to linger too long.
Champagne toast at midnight
Happy New Year! It's best if you clink a glass of sparkling cider. While drinking too much alcohol poses serious risks to your baby, even small amounts may be hazardous, since any alcohol you drink makes its way to your baby. That ups your chance of miscarriage, low birthweight, and developmental or behavioral problems later.
Is it hot in here or is it just you? When your core body temperature goes over 102 degrees – from vigorous exercise, excessive bundling, or snoozing under an electric blanket – there's a risk to your baby. It's of special concern in the first trimester, when too much heat can interfere with your baby's organ development. Keep exercise moderate and wear layers you can peel off as you heat up.
Have a healthy, happy holiday!
Get answers to your most pressing questions about what is or isn't safe during pregnancy, so you can focus on celebrating the season with your family.
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