When you are pregnant, your immune system – the body’s defence against infections – is weaker than usual. Here we share pregnancy tips for staying healthy during the colder winter months.
Pregnancy can be challenging at the best of times and especially at the moment, it's really important to look after yourself. So it’s better to try to boost your immune system in winter to avoid those cold and flu viruses when you are pregnant, if you can.
Some medicines aren’t safe to take in pregnancy so if you do get ill, make sure you check the label before taking anything (NHS, 2018a). You can also talk to a pharmacist if you’re unsure that medicine is safe to take while pregnant.
Five pregnancy tips for staying healthy this winter:
1. Good nutrition
It’s important to have a healthy diet during the winter months (NHS, 2017a). Filling up on fruit and veg can really boost your immune system and help your body to fight off infections.
It’s the perfect time of year to fuel your body with all the nutrients in winter vegetables (NHS, 2017b). Why not enjoy some homemade soup and seasonal veg to help keep you healthy throughout winter.
2. Stay active
Regular exercise has health benefits and helps to strengthen your immune system (NHS, 2017a). It’s a really good idea to stay active through winter, and it's also good for your mental health to get out and about in the fresh air. Even better if it's in a park or natural setting.
Walking and swimming are great ways to exercise throughout pregnancy, although with the ongoing restrictions, swimming might not be possible. You could also try a home exercise DVD to keep you moving even when the weather is bad and you are stuck indoors.
3. Wrap up warm
If you are going out and about when it’s really cold then make sure you wrap up warm and wear a hat, scarf and coat. You’ll need to keep you and your unborn baby warm so there’s even more reason to make sure you are dressed for the weather. And don’t stay out in the freezing cold for long.
4. Get vaccinated
It’s important to get the flu vaccine to help protect you and your baby from the flu, which can cause complications during pregnancy (NHS Choices, 2018b). This is even more important at the moment. Find out more about the flu in pregnancy and the benefits of the flu vaccine from our article Flu and pregnancy.
During the winter months it’s also advised that pregnant women take a vitamin D supplement (RCOG, 2014; NHS and UK Medicines Information, 2016; NHS, 2017b).
5. Good hygiene
Even during "normal" times, sticking to good hygiene practices will help you to prevent picking up an infection (NHS, 2018a). During the current pandemic, of course, it's especially important. Make sure you wash your hands regularly. Usually we'd say try to keep your distance from people with coughs or colds, but for the time being, you should also observe social distancing from everyone who is not in your household or bubble. Clean surfaces like your keyboard, telephone, and door handles regularly to get rid of germs.
Hopefully you will keep the winter bugs at bay this winter and have a happy, healthy pregnancy through winter. If you do catch a cold or virus this winter then you might like to read our coping with illness during pregnancy article. For information about pregnancy and coronavirus, see our feature here.
This page was last reviewed in April 2018.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
NHS. (2017a) Five ways to stay healthy this winter. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/five-ways-to-stay-healthy-this-winter/ [Accessed 1st April 2018]
NHS. (2017b) Vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/vitamins-minerals-supplements-pregnant/#vitamin-d-in-pregnancy [Accessed 1st April 2018]
NHS. (2018a) Why are pregnant women at higher risk of flu complications? Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/3096.aspx?CategoryID=5 [Accessed 1st April 2018]
NHS. (2018b) The flu vaccine. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/ [Accessed 1st April 2018]
NHS; UK Medicines Information. (2016) Which oral vitamin D dosing regimens correct deficiency in pregnancy? Available from: https://www.sps.nhs.uk/articles/which-oral-vitamin-d-dosing-regimens-correct-deficiency-in-pregnancy/ [Accessed 1st April 2018]
RCOG (2014). Vitamin D in pregnancy. Available from: https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/guidelines/scientific-impact-papers/vitamin_d_sip43_june14.pdf [Accessed 1st April 2018]