It’s summer time, and you know what that means! It’s hot, it’s humid, and if you’re pregnant, you’re feeling heavy with child. Heat and humidity is already unpleasant for most people, but it takes an even greater toll on pregnant women. Don’t let this discourage you, there are tons of ways for you to cope with the heat without losing your cool!
Sunscreen and the shade are your best friends — always apply sunscreen with a high SPF and stay in the shade whenever possible. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can make your skin more susceptible to chloasma, which are those unwanted dark splotches on the face or arms that sometimes appear throughout pregnancy.
Being pregnant is no excuse to deprive yourself of outdoor activities, but you just have to make sure to take extra precautions in order to protect yourself and your baby. During pregnancy, women should be especially careful when it comes to sun exposure because it may lead to overheating and dehydration.
While you’re pregnant, your body temperature is slightly higher than usual, so it’s inevitable that the added heat from the outside temperature can make you feel uncomfortable.
Since pregnant women already have a certain degree of heat intolerance, it gives all the more reason for moms-to-be to be consistent with keeping a close eye on the heat warnings.
If the heat index (how hot the temperature feels due to the combination of humidity and heat) is up in the 90s, that’s the kind of day to stay indoors as much as possible with plenty of air conditioning. Applying a cool, damp washcloth to the back of your neck, your forehead, or the top of your head is also another great way to keep your body temperature down.
If you perspire heavily as a result of the heat, make sure you drink a great deal of fluids. Water is always good, but so are orange juice and sports drinks, which substitute for electrolytes that are sweating away with the heat.
Too much water can be as much of an issue as too little, causing a condition referred to as water intoxication. Over hydrating with water is actually a thing, and it can water down your electrolytes, which can result in fatigued muscles, cramps, and in extreme scenarios, unconsciousness.
If you’re thirsty, then chances are you’re already dehydrated, so make sure you have something to drink with you at all times. Here are some more tips to get you through the heat of the summer!
- As Dory says, just keep swimming! Not only does it cool you off, but it also helps by taking some of the pressure off your sciatic nerve. Swimming in the ocean is fine, just as long as the waves aren’t strong enough to knock you down.
- Wear breathable fabrics to avoid sweating. This will keep you cooler while also helping to prevent heat rash that can surface under your breasts and abdomen, which is a common predicament for pregnant women.
- Bring a water-filled squirt bottle with you so that you can spray yourself whenever you start to feel hot.
- Exercise at cooler times of the day and avoid engaging in physical activity to the point of overheating.
When it comes to working out, always get the okay from your OBGYN before you decide to start or continue an exercise routine.
Breathing is also a very essential component in keeping cool. Breathing releases heat, so make sure to maintain a healthy breathing pattern (some people either breathe too quickly or too slowly), and if you’re having a hard time breathing because of things you can’t do much about like allergies or asthma, then stay indoors.
If you also happen to experience the first sign of weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness, or excessive thirst, get indoors.
Another common dilemma among summer pregnancies is leg swelling, or physiologic edema. If the second half of pregnancy goes on during the summer months, the degree of leg swelling can increase drastically.
If you experience any leg swelling while pregnant, there are definitely ways to go about this. Simply lying down for 30 to 60 minutes a day and keeping your legs elevated while sleeping will help. To do so, make sure to roll up a towel or blanket under your mattress at the foot of the bed. It’d also be wise to wear comfy shoes. You could also try wearing a pair that’s half a size bigger than your typical size.
Try to set time aside to walk at least two to three times a week at cooler times of the day.
Whatever you do, don’t wear constrictive clothes, particularly around the waistline, and definitely avoid standing in one place for too long. Try your best to reduce your intake of salt without completely taking it out of your diet, since the iodide contained in the salt is good for the fetus. Don’t take any diuretic substances either, because the loss of electrolytes could potentially endanger the fetus as well.
Now that you know the dos and don’ts, don’t be a summer bummer!
If you follow all these tips, you should be able to beat the heat and get back to savoring the anticipation of awaiting your baby’s arrival. If you’re looking for other women’s health care tips like these or simply want more guidelines to get you through your summer pregnancy, Dr. Ghea is the female OBGYN to ask. With Dr. Ghea, there is no such thing as a silly question, so ask away!
She’ll make sure you are completely comfortable throughout the entire process. If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment, you can either fill out an online application or call 954-473-2011 to visit her Plantation OBGYN office at Westside OB/GYN Group.