A Pregnancy Winter Survival Guide
Pass on the Shovel
For women already bothered by back discomfort due to a growing belly, shoveling snow is not highly recommended. These individuals should be particularly cautious when lifting heavy amounts of snow, says Dr. Angle. Taking special care to use proper form (for example, lifting with your knees instead of your back) and taking frequent breaks when shoveling is essential, adds Dr. Green.
Don’t Get SAD!
For some pregnant women, winter can make an otherwise easy pregnancy difficult. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a “mood disorder associated with depression episodes and related to seasonal variations of light,” according to the National Mental Health Association. “Surveys estimate that four to six percent of the general population experience winter depression, and another 10 to 20 percent have subsyndromal features,” adds the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Studies from the AAFP further state that women with SAD outnumber men four to one.
The most common symptoms of SAD are:
- Common depression symptoms, such as overeating and weight gain, and excessive sleeping during the fall or winter months.
- Feeling “back to normal” once the snow thaws and spring and summer months arrive.
- Experiencing “cyclical” seasonal depression for the past two years, with no nonseasonal depression episodes.
- Craving sugary or starchy foods more during these seasons than in the spring and summer seasons.
How can you fight these wintertime blues? Dr. Angle recommends that pregnant women who are first experiencing SAD—or have had SAD prior to pregnancy—practice moderate exercise, which can be particularly beneficial.
If you find yourself feeling SAD, the AAFP suggests spending some time outdoors during the day. A short walk each afternoon can do wonders. (The AAFP cites that one of their studies found an hour’s walk in winter sunlight to be as effective as two and a half hours under bright artificial light.) The AAFP also suggests arranging your home and/or workplaces to receive more sunlight during winter months.
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