Surviving the Summer Heat During Pregnancy

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The hottest days of summer can be tough on everyone but they can be exceptionally uncomfortable if you’re pregnant. Being pregnant any time of year can make you feel like you are your own personal radiator. Your body temperature actually runs slightly higher than someone who is not pregnant and you may experience a lower tolerance for heat and a higher propensity for heat exhaustion. While we can’t will the weather cooler to make you more comfortable, we can offer these seven expert tips for surviving the summer heat while pregnant.

  1. Stay hydrated: When you are pregnant, the Institute of Medicine recommends that you drink 12-13 eight ounce glasses of water per day. However, when you are exposed to heat or exercise, you should have an additional 8-ounce glass per hour to stay sufficiently hydrated. The extra water will help restore electrolytes lost from sweating. Water has a whole host of benefits during pregnancy, including preventing overheating, headaches, fatigue and swelling.
  2. Exercise Wisely: While moderate exercise during pregnancy has many great benefits, you need to be careful not to overexert yourself in the heat. On hot days, exercise during cooler hours avoiding the midday sun. Consider exercising indoors at an air conditioned gym or yoga studio. Swimming is also a great way to cool down on a summer day and has the added bonus of taking weight off the sciatic nerve which can often cause pain or discomfort in pregnancy.
  3. Avoid peak sun hours: When temperatures are high, it’s best to avoid spending time outdoors during the hours of 10AM and 2PM when the sun is strongest. Overexertion in high temperatures can lead to heat exhaustion and even heat stroke in pregnant women which can be dangerous for both mom and baby. Opt for indoor activities with air conditioning during these hours such as the mall, library, aquarium, movies or just staying home. If you are outside in the heat and begin to experience excessive sweating, weakness, muscle cramps, a headache, dizziness, or excessive thirst, get inside to air conditioning as soon as possible and lay down with a damp cloth on your head and a glass of cool water. If your symptoms do not improve once out of the heat, seek medical attention.
  4. Take frequent cool showers: A cool shower on hot days can be just the trick to bring your body temperature down and seek some respite from the heat. Shower twice a day if you need to, to keep cool. You probably won’t have that luxury once baby arrives!
  5. Wear loose fitting, light clothing: Breathable cotton is your best bet when you’re pregnant in the summer heat. It’s not uncommon to get heat rash under the breasts and abdomen where sweat can accumulate in the hot summer months. Light, breathable clothing will help prevent this problem and keep you as cool as possible on those hot days. 
  6. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply often: When you are pregnant, your skin is actually more susceptible to the harmful UV rays from the sun. Using a good sunscreen and reapplying it often will help protect you from painful sunburns. Sunburns can also cause your core temperature to rise which is not healthy for your developing baby. 
  7. Put your feet up: Heat and pregnancy can be an automatic recipe for swelling. While swelling is more common in the second half of pregnancy and can lead to your shoes feeling snug and your rings getting stuck, it’s always a good idea to get extra rest while you are pregnant. Take a siesta in a cool place for 30 minutes each day to give yourself time to relax and lower your body temperature. Napping is another luxury you may not have time for once baby arrives, so you might as well take advantage of the opportunity while you have it.

It’s always important to take extra precautions to care for your body in the heat but when you’re pregnant, it’s even more vital. Drink plenty of water, stay out of the sun’s harmful rays, and get rest when you need it. Just because you have a bun in the oven, doesn’t mean you need to feel like one! 

For questions about pregnancy, natural birth, the postpartum period or women’s health, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center.