Winter is here at last! Dress up, grab your skis, snowshoes, and skates to play outside with the kids. Winter walks, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are safe activities for a pregnant woman and can be practised again very soon after birth. Skating and alpine skiing should be reserved for experienced women because of the risks of falls. Let’s see a few of these sports in detail.
Snowshoeing is a great activity to practice during pregnancy if you are used to it. Snowshoeing exercises your legs, buttocks, and thighs more than walking because of the weight of the snowshoes. You can practice snowshoeing until the day before birth if you want, if your condition allows, and if you are up to it. If you never wore snowshoes in your life, start with a regular walk instead.
Choose your snowshoes according to your weight, to their floatability, their weight, and their purpose. Get informed on the models for women. You could also buy snowshoes in specialists’ boutiques and second-hand shops. Gaiters offer protection against snow and debris and will be useful when it snows and on rough terrains.
Snowshoeing until the end!
“I gave birth in January and I went snowshoeing in the mountains until the day before birth. I felt great and I wanted to get moving a bit every day. I was careful down the slopes and I was going slower than usual but it felt good to get outside. At the end of my pregnancy, I was using sticks to keep my balance.”
-Mélanie, mother of a 15-month-old girl
Cross-country skiing is an excellent cardiovascular exercise to practice during pregnancy for all women. You can continue to practice your classic technique or go skiing off-road as long as you are comfortable and feel in control. Skiing only causes very little impact on the joints, and barely any risk of falling; beginners can even practice it. You should still be careful in steep slopes if you are a beginner. Use paths that you know and be vigilant if you practice off-road! Some parks offer trails for cross-country skiing with free access. Stay informed!
If you want to buy skis, it would be better to wait until after your pregnancy, when you will get rid of your excess weight, since the camber - the ability to resist your weight - is very important to consider when buying a pair of skis. In the meantime, it is possible to rent equipment in all cross-country skiing centres if you do not own a pair.
Women who ski regularly can continue if they respect their limits and monitor their speed, the difficulty of slopes and snow conditions. If you are not comfortable in powder snow conditions, on ice or in sticky spring snow, do not go! Keep an eye out for other skiers or snowboarders and be vigilant because skiing involves risks of falling. If you want to ski in altitude, consult your doctor. If you are a beginner, skiing is not an activity to try for the first time when you are already pregnant.
Day by Day
"I have been practising downhill skiing since the age of five. I spent all my young weekend's skiing and have taught skiing when I was a teenager. I decided to go skiing when I got pregnant; I went from day to day, depending on my feelings. There are days when I was more nervous than others, so I skied slowly. In the third quarter, I still felt good; I went early in the morning to avoid the icy slopes or bumps. I made my last outing skiing at 38 weeks and I delivered at 39 weeks and a half of a 7.9 lbs. boy”
Lisanne, 33, first pregnancy
After birth: Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
If you gave birth vaginally without complications, you can start cross-country skiing and snowshoeing as soon as you are ready and have enough energy. These no-impact sports are recommended during the post-partum period. Women who had a C-section should wait a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks before doing it again because it requires abdominal efforts. You must start without pain. For beginners, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are excellent sports that make you work your whole body. Even short outings are beneficial.
For athletes, resuming the competitions depends on each woman. They can review their objectives with their doctor and coach after birth, depending on the tone of their pelvic muscles.
Skiing with baby!
Baby sled manufacturers recommend waiting until the child is six months old before taking them skiing. You can then pull a sled or a single or double trailer. Women who choose to do so before the baby is six months old should constantly pay attention to the position of the baby's head and body heat. Make sure the baby is warm when you play a winter sport such as skiing, snowshoeing or walking. Extremities get cold very quickly. If you are a beginner and pull your baby in a sled or trailer, choose trails where the terrain is flat and avoid the steep ups and downs where you could fall. It is quite a workout to climb with a baby!
Tips and advice
On your first cross-country outing, take it slow! You will probably find it painful at first, especially if you carry a sled. Progressively increase the duration of your journeys and the difficulty of your trails. If possible, find a cross-country skiing course to improve your technique. You will find your sport more enjoyable if you do so. If you feel muscle pain or if you leak urine when you're skiing, talk to your doctor. Some women may experience incontinence when skiing or pulling a sled. This is not abnormal, but must be corrected by exercising your pelvic floor.
Walking in the mountains or on trails is very nice for the whole family. If you have other children, they will surely love playing in the mountains. Bring seeds to feed the birds in parks where it is allowed and binoculars to observe, and don't forget a backpack with snacks and surprises!
If you wear your baby in a baby carrier, make sure they are not underdressed. Unlike you, they are immobile and can get cold quickly. You can put hot compresses in their boots and mittens, which can easily be found in sporting goods stores. Most manufacturers of baby carrier bags recommend waiting until the baby is at least six months before using them. There are several bags with different features for the comfort of mom and baby, choose wisely.
Good, fun and safe winter to you all!