With warmer temperatures and plenty of sunshine, summertime can be a welcome change from the gray, cold days of winter – especially if you’re a mom-to-be.
Yet summertime can bring its own challenges: Many pregnant women find that they’re more prone to feeling warm (even in the winter!) so hot, humid days can be especially trying.
“High humidity can cause the cooling effects of sweat evaporation to slow down,” said Dr. Anhtuan Huynh, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Akron Children’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Center. “So, pregnant women who are already a little warmer than usual can feel even hotter.”
Dr. Huynh offers tips for pregnant women to beat the heat this summer and stay cool while awaiting their little one’s arrival.
1. Drink up.
Perhaps the most important tip for moms-to-be during the summer months is to drink plenty of water.
“With so many activities moving outside in the heat, dehydration can be a real concern for pregnant women,” said Dr. Huynh. “Dehydration can occur quickly and lead to complications, from minor troubles such as fatigue to more serious conditions, such as preterm labor and heat stroke.”
Staying hydrated has other benefits, too, like helping prevent UTIs (urinary tract infections), constipation and hemorrhoids. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises pregnant women to drink about 10 cups of water a day – more if you’re involved in vigorous activity.
2. Seek the shade
Thanks to changes in metabolism, many pregnant women experience a higher body temperature than usual. That means a normally tolerable 80-degree day may feel more like a sauna, especially as your due date draws closer.
When you’re outside at picnics or exercising, try to find a shady spot. Also, dress with layers in breathable fabrics like cotton to stay comfortable when the temperatures start rising.
3. Become an early riser – or a night owl.
Avoid going out during the hottest times of day, like midday and afternoon. Instead, plan your outdoor activities for early to mid-morning before the sun’s reached its peak – or go out in the evening.
If you start to feel overheated, Dr. Huynh suggests applying a cool, damp cloth to your neck and head, along with grabbing a drink or two of cold water.
4. Head to the pool.
Slip into your swimsuit for a dip in the pool as a great way to cool off. Just be sure to apply sunscreen, which are safe for moms-to-be.
The pool can offer other advantages besides just cooling off. Floating in the water takes pressure off your legs and ankles while promoting better circulation.
5. Trade your shoes.
Many moms-to-be experience swelling during pregnancy for several reasons. Blood volume increases during pregnancy, plus it’s more difficult for the blood to circulate to the legs as a woman’s uterus grows larger.
“During the summer months, leg swelling, which is already bothersome for some pregnant women, can increase quite a bit,” said Dr. Huynh. “Elevating the legs, wearing compression socks and increasing the shoe size by half a size can help alleviate the discomfort of swollen feet.”
He also pointed out flip-flops or other footwear that doesn’t restrict the feet is another great solution for dealing with oversized feet. Just be careful, a pregnant woman’s center of gravity shifts so she needs to take care to avoid injury when wearing less supportive shoes.