Request from a reader: ” I’d love to see a post on how to get out in winter while pregnant with a 1 1/2 year old who will have to be carried quite a bit. I am 3 mos pregnant and so will be pregnant (and getting much bigger) for the entire pregnancy. I am mostly looking at snowshoeing as skiing, sledding, and skating would not be good options. We live in Maine in a very mountainous area. Our property is mostly steep which is why I don’t anticipate the little one to be able to do much on the ground with snowshoeing. Any suggestions or ideas would be great! I really want to stay active.”
Getting out with a toddler while pregnant presents a myriad of challenges, but it is definitely doable and really helps the days pass faster when you spend most of them outside, especially those days in later pregnancy that seem to have 60 hours instead of 24!
Being active during pregnancy helps your mood, increases energy and endurance, helps you sleep better, and helps prep your body for the marathon that is labor and delivery. All the benefits you normally get from being outside are even more important when you body is under the stress of being pregnant!
Yes you’ll need some extra patience for outings with a toddler (because pregnancy hormones are no joke, and pairing them with caring for the needs of a young child really does make subsequent pregnancies more exhausting!). Snacks will be your friend, and don’t try to set a firm plan for how many miles you are going to do.
You may need to slow down on occasion, the “oh, we’re laying down again?” is all too common with toddlers, especially in winter. But that gives you the chance to really enjoy the increase of exploration on a micro scale that comes with having a toddler.
Stop to let them pick up every pine cone and rock, draw in the snow, use some downed pine branches for sweeping. Let the child guide your explorations. You can walk (or ski) in circles around the toddler(s). You could even create a nordic track in your yard or park and exercise around your toddler while they do whatever it is they’re doing.
Winter Activities while Pregnant
Managing Risk in your Outdoor Adventures
While pregnant it’s safest to avoid anything with fall hazards, anything where you don’t feel comfortable keeping your balance, or things you’d need a helmet for as good rules of thumb. If you’re prone to falling at an activity or aren’t confident you can adjust to your new center of gravity, skip it while pregnant.
However, if you’re a proficient skier or snowboarder, you can continue to do it as long as you feel comfortable. You and your doctor will know best which activities are OK for you.
Lower Impact Winter Activities
Nordic skiing can be an excellent way to get exercise in! Any fall risk is very low if you stick to groomed flat trails, but again if you’re a proficient skier you are able to extend your comfort zone.
Your toddler may be able to toddle along beside you or be worn in a carrier, but to get in a very long ski you may want another way to cart them along.
A bike trailer with ski attachment like the Chariot will allow you to get a longer workout in with a bit more freedom. Pack the toddler in there all cozy, give them a few snacks and books, and you may even get to ski through naptime!
You can also use a Chariot or a jogging stroller for a winter run. You can buy special studded running shoes or stud them yourself. Again an excellent way to get in some exercise while your toddler sleeps.
Snowshoeing could be great fun, especially if your toddler can keep up. If you’re having to carry them, their weight will add to your already increased baby weight, and it may make it difficult but an even better workout!
As an alternative to a trailer you can opt to pull them behind in a sled while you snowshoe or ski or go for a faster paced walk. Or if you have another child to pull the sled, that often delights them both!
Babywearing While Pregnant
Babywearing while pregnant is perfectly safe in most situations, but it is always best to talk to your doctor and make sure you have no lifting restrictions. If you’re cleared for it, you have a lot of options!
Some mamas have success adventuring with frame packs, but they do tend to throw your center of gravity off more and add additional weight, so my two favorite options are Soft Structured Carriers and Woven Wraps.
Soft Structured Carriers
If you haven’t babyworn before, a soft structured carrier (SSC) is an easy choice and has a very small learning curve. You will probably want to switch to back-wearing pretty early on as the belly gets in the way!
I always wore below my belly, which made the carrier waistband sit a bit lower on my hips than ideal, putting a bit more stress on my thighs.
Some mamas like to wear the waistband above the belly, and an added benefit to this is that it gets your toddler up even higher which they typically prefer! Find more pictures of SSC wearing while pregnant here!
Woven wraps are wonderful for babywearing while pregnant, but they do have a bit of an intimidating learning curve. I’m not talking your stretchy moby wrap, but a wrap made of more substantial fibers used for carrying bigger kids.
Some well known entry brands are Didymos and Lenny Lamb, though you’ll find there is a huge variety and you can spend from $50 to thousands on higher end handwoven wraps.
Whatever wrap you choose, you have an enormous variety of carries you can use for back-carrying, and the best part is you don’t need to have anything around your waist (except a tie off, depending on carry).
I loved wearing my toddlers in a “double hammock with a candy cane chestbelt” while pregnant; it held the toddler securely and high, it distributed the weight evenly across my torso and didn’t put weight on my shoulders, and there was no fabric around my waist. It also is an extra layer to keep everyone cozy, and works wonderfully paired with a babywearing jacket and down skirt.
Gear to have and clothing suggestions:
Kahtoolah microspikes or STABILicers cleats are something I consider essential gear for getting outdoors while pregnant and babywearing babies if you encounter frequent freeze/thaw cycles during your winter. Especially if pregnant (or front-wearing a newborn), it takes a lot of risk out of venturing out into icy conditions.
They’re even worth it for navigating an icy driveway as your balance is compromised and falls are much more likely when pregnant. Yak tracks don’t work quite as well and in certain types of ice can act more like skates than grippers so I wouldn’t recommend those for pregnancy/babywearing.
If you don’t want to invest in a maternity coat, you can usually get by with oversized clothing, leaving jackets unzipped and wearing scarves, or borrowing a husband’s jacket. Or you can buy an insert that will work with your existing jackets! Bib-style outerwear without a waistband can also stretch to accommodate a growing belly.
It’s no secret that leggings are your friend during pregnancy, and most of my merino leggings folded over just fine on the waist. I loved outerwear pants and skirts with full zippers, because I could just zip down the top inch on one or both sides side of the skirt or pants, fold that corner in, and I’m ready to go!
My down skirts were particularly comfortable during pregnancy because I could zip or unzip the sides as I got hot or cold, and temperature fluctuations during pregnancy are no joke!
Most of all, just get out there and have fun. Enjoy your last months with your toddler, and try to let some of that pregnancy stress melt away as you breathe in the fresh air, assuming baby isn’t pushing up on your lungs too much 😉
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