One day you’re speeding down a ski slope with a cold wind on your face, and the next day you’re pregnant: now everything you love is forbidden and the only time you are exposed to the snow-capped mountains is when you ski competitive TV out of the safety of your TV Couch.
That’s how it works in pregnancy, right? Skiing and other cold-weather sports such as snowboarding are 100 percent prohibited?
Yes, mostly … but also no, not always. It’s obviously not that cut and dry. While skiing during pregnancy does have risks – and you may not want to take any of them – there are times when skiing during pregnancy could still be an option for physical activity. Finding out if you can ski safely is the most important thing.
Here’s what you need to know if you hit the slopes with a bun in the oven, why it’s dangerous, and how to make it safer (and how to know when to stay at the lodge and have hot chocolate with your feet up should sip).
To get one thing straight up front: In general, skiing is not recommended by doctors during pregnancy. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) counts skiing among the exercises that you should avoid, along with surfing and horse riding because of it[s] You have an increased risk of injury ”due to the risk of falling.
However, this is not a blanket recommendation. Whether you’re an avid skier trying to weigh the pros and cons of continuing your favorite sport while pregnant, or you’ve just been invited to hit the slopes with some friends while pregnant, your doctor might tell you you’re in are able to do it – but you need to be aware of the specific risks to you and your baby. Here’s what to watch out for.
Collisions and falls
Undoubtedly, the greatest risk of skiing or snowboarding during pregnancy is abdominal trauma. This can happen if you are hit by another skier on the mountain or if you fall on the icy slope.
There are different views as to when this type of trauma is more likely to affect your pregnancy. These are the things to keep in mind each trimester:
- First trimester. Your baby is in a critical development phase. The risk of miscarriage is higher during the first trimester than any other, so some doctors advise you not to take unnecessary risks at this vulnerable point in pregnancy. At the same time, however, your baby is so small that it is extremely protected in your uterus, so the risk of trauma in the first trimester, for example, is lower than in the third.
- Second trimester. They don’t call it the “sweet spot” for nothing – the second trimester of pregnancy is the easiest for many people. You have survived the fragile and nauseated first trimester, but you are not yet in the waddling “nothing-fits-anymore” phase of the third trimester. Of course, there is still a risk of collisions and falls while skiing – and there are many factors (including the degree of impact and location of trauma) that will determine how likely such an accident will harm you or your baby. But when all things are the same, the second trimester may have the least risk.
- Third trimester. In the third trimester, two things are working against you – your center of gravity and your baby’s growth. In the third trimester, your balance is likely to be affected by your belly shifting weight, and this can make it more difficult to stand upright safely on your skis than usual. Your baby is bigger now, too, and although your tummy is still fairly padded, the bigger your baby has got, the smaller this protective layer has become. At this point in pregnancy, moderate abdominal trauma can cause placental ablation or even rupture your uterus.
You are at greater risk than your baby. You are more prone to muscle injury during pregnancy because the hormones that prepare your body for labor by relaxing your pelvic ligaments also loosen the rest of your ligaments.
That means you’re more likely to end up with muscle tension and torn tendons – and while these things won’t harm your baby, they are going to be quite uncomfortable for you during pregnancy.
Sharpness of mind
ICYMI, pregnancy brain is a real thing, and wherever you are in those 9 months, you’ve likely been affected to some degree. You may not be able to quickly assess how to handle a skiing-related challenge on the slopes when your instincts are just slowed enough that your normal quick judgments and feline reflexes are a thing of the past.
Of course, you may feel as sharp as ever. Mental fog is just one of several changes that can occur during pregnancy, but it’s one to be aware of when planning an activity that requires quick thinking.
Fatigue and dehydration
Your body basically works overtime around the clock during pregnancy, so any type of strenuous activity can lead to burnout faster than if you are not pregnant. Pregnancy is not a time to “push through the pain” or to leave your water bottle at the lodge.
If you neglect your self-care on the slopes, it can quickly lead to extreme fatigue and dehydration, which increases your general safety risks when skiing or snowboarding.
Now that you know the risks, you can decide to continue skiing or snowboarding while pregnant – with some modifications and adjustments, obvs. This will allow you to adapt your normal routine to the pregnancy and protect you and your baby.
- Talk to your doctor. As I said, skiing is generally not recommended during pregnancy – that doesn’t mean you can never do it, but the decision to continue skiing should be made during a conversation with your gynecologist. You may be okay with skiing based on your experience and general health, or your doctor may warn you not to go skiing for individual reasons. The first step should always be to speak to your doctor to see what they think.
- Know your skills. If you’ve been skiing for years but have never made it down the Hasenpiste, now is not the time to climb up to more challenging runs. If you’re a seasoned skier, your doctor will likely give you the go-ahead to do your normal thing (while you’re still comfortable with it), but the rule of thumb is to stay at or below whatever skill level you have, that you were on before pregnancy.
- Not the first time to start. Have you always wanted to learn to ski or snowboard? Unfortunately, you have to wait until the baby is born. Pregnancy is not the time to start a new, strenuous activity. While those who did harder exercises prior to pregnancy are usually allowed to continue, doctors are usually not in favor of performing new skills unless it is a pregnancy-safe exercise.
- Stay on level ground. If you’re scared of whizzing down a ski slope and wiping at the bottom, opt for cross-country skiing or even snowshoeing. Although you could still fall, the risk of injury is much lower. It also gives you more time to react and stay away from other skiers, which further reduces your risk.
- Avoid crowds. Since you cannot control what other people are doing on the slopes, it is best to avoid them as much as possible. Do you ski outside of the opening times, e. B. Weekdays, and skip the crowded vacation weeks and holidays.
- Acclimate to the altitude. Pregnancy is often a more difficult time at high altitudes, so you may need to take more time to acclimatise. Take it slow and don’t go skiing until you are comfortable. And since the blood pressure can rise at higher altitudes, you do not drive into the mountains at all if you have pregnancy hypertension.
- Pace yourself. Speaking of slow, you can’t think of yourself as competition with someone while you’re pregnant. The fact that you are on skis during pregnancy is power enough! Instead of surpassing everyone else, just focus on the positives of exercise during pregnancy and enjoy your time in the fresh air.
- Stay hydrated and take breaks. You’re more prone to fatigue and dehydration during pregnancy, so make sure you have plenty of water, are dressed appropriately for the weather and amount of physical activity, and take a few more breaks than usual.
Going from cross country skier to pregnant person with half your usual stamina can be difficult, but if that’s your reality there is no point in fighting it. It is important to listen to your body when engaging in any type of physical activity during pregnancy, especially if it is as intense as skiing or snowboarding.
Here are some signs that it might be time to quit skiing (either for the day or the rest of your pregnancy):
- You find it difficult to keep your balance or to stay on your feet.
- You feel light-headed, tired, or dizzy.
- You are overheated, sweaty, or extremely thirsty.
- You are anxious or very concerned about your safety during pregnancy.
- You have aches or pains of any kind, especially in your back or legs.
While these are examples of when to end it, there may be other times as well. The important thing is to always assess your physical and mental well-being before skiing during pregnancy: if you are anxious, tired, uncomfortable, or in any way uncomfortable, it is better to play it safe.
Exercise is highly recommended during pregnancy, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the March of Dimes. Obviously, risky physical activity isn’t worth the benefits of exercise, but even something as basic as walking is good for you during pregnancy.
Exercise builds endurance for labor and delivery (trust us, you will need it!). Frequent exercise during pregnancy can also:
- Improve your mood and your sleep
- relieves back pain, calf cramps and sciatic nerve pain
- Reduce swelling
- reduce stress
And of course, it can just generally make it easier to survive the marathon which means 9 months of growing and carrying someone in your body.
If you want to get some exercise but haven’t done it while skiing or snowboarding, there are still plenty of safe ways to maintain your level of physical activity. With your doctor’s permission, you can:
Just remember that if you’ve never done any of these activities before, take them slowly and steadily to build your strength and skills over time.
Skiing or snowboarding while pregnant is usually not recommended, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t for you. The most important thing is to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program during pregnancy, especially if there are some risks involved.
You and your doctor can decide, based on your skill level and general health, that skiing is okay with a few modifications. Otherwise, you don’t risk it.