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10 Ways to Have a Healthy, Happy Winter Pregnancy


Pregnancy is hard enough in balmy weather. Add snow, ice, and freezing temperatures, and you're set up for extra challenges. To make your winter pregnancy as comfortable as possible, we've rounded up these practical tips to stay well and cozy when the weather outside is frightful.

1. Eat Colorful Foods

a heart made of healthy food

Your immune system is at its best when you nourish your body with the right foods, says Saxena—and when it’s gray, brown, and white outdoors, color should be all over your plate. “It’s been shown that getting a rainbow of colors in your diet gives you a broader toolkit to fight infections” including bacteria, viruses, and fungal infections, she says. She recommends cooking with fresh herbs, which have antimicrobial properties, as well as eating red, purple, and dark green foods like peppers, cabbage, spinach, and kale for their high antioxidant and flavonoid content.

2. Wash Your Hands—with Normal Soap

a person washing their hands in a basin

During cold and flu season, it’s hard to wash your hands too many times each day. But don’t worry about stocking your bathroom with antibacterial soaps, says Saxena. Regular soap is just fine, she says, “because it’s actually the water and the friction that’s doing the work” when you scrub up. Washing your hands for the amount of time it takes you to sing the ABC song will ensure you’re getting enough time in the suds. And except in dire circumstances, try to avoid antibacterial gels, lest your baby ingest some of its residue when she inevitably sucks on your finger.

3. Get Good Sleep

a woman lying down having a nap

Your body does most of its healing while you sleep, says Saxena—including warding off germs you came in contact with during the day. A full eight-hours of sleep is rarely an option for new moms, but Saxena advises trying to get at least a couple of longer stretches each night so your body gets the deep, restorative rest it needs. Breastfeeding moms can do a “dream feed"—feeding baby just before your bedtime while barely waking him up. You can also prep a bottle of pumped milk and have your partner handle a middle-of-the-night feeding.

4. Stay Hydrated

a woman smiling while holding up a glass of water

When your body is properly hydrated, it's better able to flush some viruses and bacteria from your system before they have a chance to take hold. Saxena suggests hot water with lemon as a great winter drink—not only does it hydrate your cells, it can also help with constipation and help cleanse your digestive system. Lemons are known to have antimicrobial properties as well. And a steaming cup of lemony liquid is highly comforting on a cold day!

5. Keep House Surfaces Clean

a person cleaning a bathroom

Saxena has two tips for moms who want to wash down floors, sinks, counter tops, and other surfaces to wipe the germs away. First, she says, “Do your cleaning at a time when your baby is not around,” like when she’s out for a walk with Grandma or napping, to eliminate the possibility of her accidentally coming into contact with cleaning products. Second, use natural products whenever possible, choosing those that use antimicrobial essential oils like non-synthetic lemon oil.

6. Move Your Body

a woman stretching on her living room floor

Regular, sweat-producing exercise helps your body flush toxins and stay strong. But don’t feel like you have to be hard-core about your fitness. “We are meant to move around,” says Saxena, “so if you can’t make your way to the gym, then stay active at home.” One hour each day of activities like walking, doing laundry, going up and down stairs, and crawling around after your baby on the floor can bring the same immune-boosting benefits as regular cardio exercise, even if your moving time is spread out over the course of a day, she says. Another good practice is to wear a pedometer and aim to walk between five and 10 thousand steps each day.

7. Manage Your Stress Level

a woman looking distressed

Everyone is on high stress alert when there’s a baby in the house, but “to stress about it will only create physical responses that will make it harder to deal with,” she says. From throwing off your hormone levels to weakening the tightly sealed lining of your gut, an area that handles most bugs and other invaders trying to make you sick, unmanaged stress is a physical problem as well as an emotional one. To bring your stress level down, try journaling—even just a few lines—to process your feelings every day, or try deep breathing exercises, particularly the brain-calming practice of making your exhales longer than your inhales.

8. Help Your Kids Wash Their Hands

a young boy wiping his runny nose with his hand

“One way to reduce your exposure to germs is to make sure your loved ones are following healthy measures,” Saxena says. That starts with hand-washing, which should be routine for grown-ups in the house and supervised for kids of any age. Moms of infants might also consider having older kids change out of their school clothes as soon as they walk in the door to keep schoolyard germs off the furniture and rugs where your baby is hanging out.

9. Consider Nutritional Supplements

a woman holding up a pill

Though Saxena advises that most of your nutrition should come from your food—and breastfeeding mamas should always consult their doctors before taking any nutritional supplements—“the judicious use of them makes sense” in many cases. Immune-boosting supplements include omega-3-rich fish oil, vitamin D, which is harder to get from the sun in the winter, and a high quality probiotic that helps your gut do its immune-boosting job. For the most part, though, “nutritional supplements are just that—they supplement a good lifestyle, they don’t substitute for one,” Saxena says.

10. Keep an Eye on Your Mood

a woman relaxing on her sofa with her eyes closed

In addition to sabotaging your energy and joy, depression and anxiety—including postpartum mood disorders—weaken your immune system. Don’t feel like you have to be “supermom,” says Saxena, or that you have to be a perfect wife or girlfriend, mother, daughter, sister, and friend all the time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the daily grind of parenting, it’s worth having a conversation with a counselor or your doctor to assess whether you are depressed or overly anxious. Both conditions “can be helped and supported,” says Saxena, and getting help may—among other benefits—help keep colds and other bugs out of your body.

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