staying comfortable during a summer pregnancy

Posted on Sun, Nov 4, 2012

Every pregnancy has its share of little discomforts, but a summer pregnancy can be particularly uncomfortable. When your belly is growing as the mercury is rising, things can quickly get unbearable. Don’t sweat! There are plenty of ways to beat the heat and keep your cool during the sticky season. Here’s how to survive a summer pregnancy in comfort and good health.


Pregnancy causes your blood volume to swell by up to 60 percent. Simultaneously, you’re losing fluid through summertime sweat, so you’ll need to drink more to keep up. If you slack on liquids now, you’ll risk more fatigue, nausea and dizziness. “Dehydration during the second and their trimesters can also cause your uterus to contract and stimulate false labor pains,” says Dr. Lara Lane, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lone Tree OB/GYN. Rehydrating often stops the contractions. Water is the best rehydrating fluid during pregnancy. Shoot for 8 to 10 cups daily. It’s important to sip throughout the day and not wait until you feel thirsty. Minor dehydration usually doesn’t cause thirst. If you’re exercising, Lane recommends adding one cup of water per hour of light activity.


You’re extra sensitive to the sun now because of your surging pregnancy hormones, so you’re more likely to burn or get dark spots on your face, including melasma (pregnancy mask). “Pregnant woman are more prone to melasma, as well as sunburn, due to an increased amount of estrogen circulating in the body during pregnancy,” Lane says. Be especially vigilant about sun safety: Stay inside or in the shade during peak sun hours – between 10 am and 4 pm. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, and cover up if you have to be in direct sun. Your usual sunblock is safe during pregnancy, so be sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen when you have to be in the sun.


Pregnancy can be exhausting – but add in energy-zapping heat and you’re lucky if you can haul your belly around the block. “When you’re carrying 30 extra pounds, you’re more prone to feeling fatigued in high temperatures,” says Mary Wilterdink, a certified nurse midwife at the Midwifery Group at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood. Getting a full night’s rest (plus a midday nap if you can swing it) is more important than ever right now.

PUT YOUR FEET UPDouble motherhood - pregnancy woman and her little daughter

All the extra fluid your body produces during pregnancy tends to build up in your feet and ankles (especially if you stand a lot) and makes them swell. Hot weather seems to intensify this. “Elevate your feet for 20 minutes and be sure they’re higher than your hips,” Lane advises. She notes that too much salt in the diet can exacerbate swelling during pregnancy, so cut back on salt as much as possible. If you can bear to wear support hoes in the heat, they can also ease the swelling. Soaking in a long, soothing bath may also help.


With your extra pregnancy weight, you’ve likely felt some chafing, especially around your belly and breasts. But when perspiration gets trapped in the skin folds, a rash can develop. A lot of friction can even cause the top layer of skin to slough off, which may lead to an infection, according to Wilterdink. She suggests keeping these areas dry by smoothing on talcum powder or cornstarch after bathing. Most heat rashes can be treated with over-the-counter hydrocortisone or antifungal cream, but check with your doctor first.


Summer offers lots of tasty ways to cool off, but choose wisely. Since you and your baby are at greater risk from food-borne illness, you may want to avoid picnic staples like mayo-based salads and deviled eggs. “Your immune system is also weaker during pregnancy, so you may get sicker than the average person.” Lane says. Remember the 60-minute rule. Perishable food should normally go unrefrigerated no longer than two hours, but that changes to one hour when the temperature approaches 90 degrees. Toss food that has been sitting on the picnic table that long. Beware of cantaloupe too. Because it’s difficult to remove all the bacteria from the melon’s rough skin, bacteria can be transferred to the fleshy fruit when you cut into it. In 2011, contaminated cantaloupe in Colorado was blamed on numerous cases of listeria, a bacteria that is particularly hazardous for pregnant women because it can lead to miscarriage.exercise during pregnancy


Pay attention to air quality alerts on the weather. Dirty air alone won’t harm your baby, but it can worsen allergies and asthma. You don’t need the hassle of an allergy flare-up. Plus, an asthma attack can be dangerous for you and your baby if your oxygen supply is compromised. “In the third trimester, when lung capacity is diminished, it can become harder to breath,” Lane says. She advises staying indoors on poor-quality air days if your asthma is problematic. At the very least, limit your time outdoors and keep windows closed between 5 am and 10 am, when pollen and pollution tend to be at their highest.


When you’re expecting, your heart rate rises more quickly than usual, and you’ll find yourself out of breath sooner when you exercise. Heat and humidity can make those workouts feel harder. Shift outdoor exercise to early morning or late in the day, and talk to your doctor about trying some more refreshing workouts, like swimming. “Immersing your body in the water can help relieve many of the muscular aches common in the last trimester,” Wilterdink notes. Lane gives the thumbs-up to swimming too. “It’s an excellent non-weight bearing activity that’s safe during pregnancy,” she says. “During hot weather, it’s nice for pregnant women to enjoy an activity that is cooling, as well as healthy.” You may even be able to lie on your belly again by using an inner tube and other floating toys in the pool. You’ll feel light, serene and refreshed – even during your weighty third trimester in the dog days of summer.


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