Don’t you just love that rush of adrenaline as you go downhill tightly clutching on to your sled on a nice winter day? But the question is, can you still enjoy this exciting activity when you’re pregnant?
Going sledding while pregnant is not entirely contradicted if you’re healthy and have a normal pregnancy. But it’s best to check with your doctor to ensure you are in the clear before embarking on such activity. Even then, observe certain precautions to ensure your safety and your baby’s.
Generally speaking, there are many benefits of engaging in physical activity during pregnancy. Let’s talk about these benefits as we get into further details concerning your safety and that of your unborn baby when sledding. Read on for some tips for sledding during pregnancy at the end of this article.
Engaging in Physical Activity During Pregnancy
A while back, pregnant women were often advised to avoid physical activities as soon as they knew they were pregnant. Even today, there are still some who believe this. But recent guidelines by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that pregnant women get involved in some moderate physical activity for the sake of maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Exercising with all safety precautions observed is okay while pregnant, and can easily benefit both mother and baby.
Here’s a video explaining activities pregnant women should avoid:
Your Body’s Response to Exercise During Pregnancy
While engaging in physical activity during pregnancy, remember that your body is a bit different. Your biological systems are now geared to taking care of your pregnancy, which may lead to unexpected reactions, especially when you exercise or exert yourself.
How your body responds when you’re pregnant is very different from when you’re not. Here are a few things that you are likely to occur during pregnancy:
- Balance: During pregnancy, you may notice it’s easier to lose your balance.
- Breathing: It’s easier and much quicker to lose your breath when pregnant. Your growing belly is pressing on the diaphragm, and this prevents its full expansion.
- Heart rate: Your heart beats typically faster during pregnancy to carry oxygen to the baby. Be aware of this even before you start any physical activity.
- Temperature: Your body temperature is higher during pregnancy. So when you start exercising, you may notice you are sweating more and sooner than before.
- Energy: Your energy levels will tend to be low most of the time during pregnancy.
Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy
If according to ACOG recommendations, healthy pregnant mothers ought to exercise, which means there are benefits you can expect from the physical activities.
It’s recommended that pregnant women exercise for at least 2½ hours per week. These exercises should be of low or moderate-intensity. If your pregnancy is normal with no complications, exercising will not increase the risk of getting a miscarriage or preterm baby.
Here are some specific benefits of exercising during pregnancy:
- It eases some pregnancy discomforts like back pain, swollen feet, and constipation.
- It helps reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
- Regulates the amount of weight you gain during pregnancy.
- It makes you feel good and gives you extra energy. This will keep your mind and body healthy.
- It helps with stress management.
- It helps your body prepare for labor and birth by giving you strength and energy.
Is Sledding a Form of Exercise?
Now that we’ve established that exercise is good for pregnant women, what about sledding? Is this also exercise, and is it part of the helpful physical activities recommended during pregnancy?
Sledding is not only a fun activity but also an effective workout. To maintain balance when sliding downhill, you have to engage specific muscles of your body. The walk back to the top of the hill offers a great aerobic workout. You’ll probably notice your heart rate increasing, and you may even break a sweat.
But the question remains concerning the safety of sledding while pregnant. Let’s look into that.
Benefits of Sledding When Pregnant
Once you’ve got the go-ahead from your doctor and are feeling confident enough to go sledding, there are several benefits you are likely to experience:
- This leisure activity will provide an opportunity to stay in shape since sledding provides an aerobics workout.
- By simply being out in the open and racing with friends or family, you can get a much-needed psychological boost. Focusing on the fun rather than the stresses of the pregnancy will do you good.
- A healthy mother resulting from exercising is equal to a healthy baby so long as no harm comes to the baby during the sledding.
To add to these advantages are the benefits we’ve outlined above on exercising during pregnancy.
The only important precaution is to do your due diligence to ensure the safety of your unborn baby and yourself as you slide in the snow.
How Safe Is Sledding When Pregnant?
The ACOG advises against engaging in activities that can result in a fall or being hit in the abdomen. If you put it that way, then sledding is quite risky, especially if you’re sliding down a busy and rough terrain.
To ensure you remain safe, you will need to observe certain precautions to increase your safety.
What to Avoid
Avoid very high hills, especially if you don’t normally live at such high altitudes. Staying at higher altitudes than you are used to can cause shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting. The pregnancy exacerbates all these.
Pregnant women should avoid becoming overheated. You can do this by drinking lots of water and wearing loose-fitting attire.
When it comes to choosing a sledding spot, avoid areas with old snow that has ice. Select a place with fresh snow.
Also, it’s safer to stay away from busy hills with many sledders. This way, you reduce the risk of collisions and falls.
Can a Bumpy Ride Affect Pregnancy?
Yes, a bumpy ride can affect pregnancy. This stems from the fact that a bumpy ride could lead to falling, getting hit in the abdomen, or anywhere else while sliding downhill.
The recommendation is that pregnant women avoid activities that include jerky movements or bouncing in a way that may result in a fall. This sounds like it’s targeted at sledding, and that’s why every woman should be very cautious when going sledding while pregnant.
Contraindications to Sledding During Pregnancy
Seeing that sledding can be risky when pregnant, so some women should avoid participating in it. This goes for any other exercises as well.
The following are conditions that are absolute contraindications to exercising, including sledding:
- Severe anemia
- Preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension)
- Multiple gestations at risk of premature labor
- Persistent bleeding in the second or third trimester
- Cervical insufficiency
- Premature labor
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks gestation
- Sever lung or heart disease
Other comorbidities can pose a relative risk to mother and baby. For such, consult with your doctor first before exercising or sledding. And if you do go out to slide, remember to take the necessary precaution.
Tips for Sledding During Pregnancy
Once you decide to go sledding, it’s essential to observe the following tips to help you stay safe.
- Avoid crowded hills with too many sledders.
- Choose a hill that’s smooth, small, less bumpy, and less steep.
- Ensure the bottom of the hill offers a smooth landing.
- Remain hydrated at all times by drinking water regularly.
- Observe other sledders before starting your session. Check whether they are bouncing around too much or going too fast.
But even with all these precautions, be alert and listen to your body. If you feel unwell, that’s a clear indication to stop sledding or not to go out in the first place. Instead, call your doctor and explain your condition.
Some of the signs or symptoms to be on the lookout for include:
- Feeling dizzy
- Blood or clear fluid from the vagina
- Pain or swelling in your lower legs
- Difficulty breathing or chest pain
In conclusion, as long as you are healthy and your doctor has confirmed you are okay to exercise, going sledding is a very personal decision. If you feel confident enough to go sliding down the snowy hills, then go ahead. But remember to take precautions and follow our tips for sledding during pregnancy.