In Troy, NY – where Burdett Birth Center calls home – the average high temperature for the summer months is a sweltering 82-degrees. Now add hot flashes and a baby bump to the hot temperatures and high humidity, and you’ve got the makings of a not-so-fun summer. However, it’s easier than you think to stay comfortable during a summer pregnancy. Here are a few tips for coping during June, July and August when you’re expecting:
Drink and eat for the heat
Hydration is key, and the Institute of Medicine recommends that moms-to-be aim for 12 to 13 eight-ounce glasses of water each day. When you’re outside, drink one eight-ounce glass of water or electrolyte replacement drink – such as milk, orange juice or sports drink – every hour. Listen to your body: If you feel thirsty or are perspiring, drink water or sports drink to replenish your electrolytes, retain fluid and avoid dehydration. When it comes to diet, reduce salt intake and foods that are diuretics to prevent dehydration.
Dress the part
During the summer months, focus your maternity style on one thing: comfort. Rely on loose, light-colored clothing to abstain from overheating. Make sure the clothing you wear is made up of breathable and lightweight fabric (like cotton or linen) to prevent chafing or rash that can develop from sweating. Flip-flops and comfortable sandals come in handy when your feet and ankles have begun to swell up. Top your everyday look off with a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and neck from sun, while keeping you cool.
…when you need to. If the heat index is in the 90s, it’s okay to skip a Saturday afternoon barbeque. The body temperature of most pregnant women is already slightly higher than normal, so added heat effects women who are expecting to a greater degree than most people. Take advantage of air conditioning, cool showers and cold, damp washcloths to keep your temperature down. If you do have outdoor activities that need to be done, complete them in the early morning or evening when temperatures are lower.
Exercising while pregnant is normal, but pushing your body to do so in the heat can be dangerous. Talk to your doctor about safe exercising practices, avoid working out in the heat and don’t push your body too hard. Swimming is a great workout for moms-to-be. Not only does it get your endorphins flowing and keeps you cool, but it also helps to take weight and pressure off your sciatic nerve.
Be aware of heat-related health problems
Physiologic edema – more commonly known as leg swelling – becomes more frequent in the summertime. Prevent or reduce swollen legs, feet and ankles by sitting regularly, keeping your legs elevated, walking when it’s cool out and wearing comfortable shoes and pants. Women should also be conscious of miliaria, an itchy skin rash caused by sweat, and itchy, dry skin during the summer months. Use moisturizing shower products and lotions and pat dry the areas of the body that skin surfaces may rub together (like under the breasts or between the thighs) to prevent irritation of the skin. Speak with your doctor if any of these conditions begin to cause pain or discomfort.
Don’t do it all
If you need a break for a nap in the A.C., then take it. If you need help with cooking or cleaning, ask for it. If you can put a task off, like setting up the crib, or pass it on to someone else, like installing the car seat, then do it. The safety and comfort of mom and baby are the number one priority, so most things can wait for cooler weather or someone else to take the reins.
Other tips and tricks for beating the heat
- Fill a squirt bottle with water and give yourself a refreshing mist when you start to overheat.
- Lather up on high-SPF sunscreen and avoid midday sunlight to prevent sunburn.
- Frequent naps and quick showers are a great way to stay cool and energized.
- Be positive! Think of it this way: If you’re delivering in the summer or early fall, you and your baby will be able to enjoy warm weather and fresh air.