If you are pregnant, summertime is not your friend.
You already know how uncomfortable you feel even with the AC cranked up, and how quickly any kind of activity wears you out. You are familiar with the humidity and the hot temperatures, but be aware also that the heat of summer can result in many unhealthy effects for you and your baby.
Heat and Dehydration
When pregnant your body is already a little warmer than normal. Therefore it doesn’t take much heat and humidity to make you feel tired and uncomfortable.
Heat exhaustion can occur quickly when the temperatures are scorching hot, so it may seem that you are simply tired due to being pregnant when symptoms of dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing or cramps occur. However, they may be signs of dehydration which is dangerous to both you and your baby.
Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, a much more serious condition which can affect muscles and damage your brain, kidneys, and heart. If the mother’s temperature exceeds 102 degrees it can affect fetal growth and sometimes cause cleft palate.
Dehydration and increased body temperature can affect the level of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac. The fluid permits the baby to move around freely and maneuver within the womb. If the mother is dehydrated, the amniotic fluid level is reduced. If this should occur in the early stages of pregnancy, it can result in birth defects, miscarriage, and preterm labor. In addition liver and kidney issues can arise.
How to Stay Cool
First and foremost stay hydrated. Drink 3-4 liters of water per day, and if you think you feel thirsty, start drinking. In addition to water, you can also include fruit juices and sports drinks.
Besides embracing the AC, other ways to stay cool include the following:
- Wear breathable natural fabrics like cotton which will also help to prevent heat rash.
- If possible, remain inside during the hottest parts of the day.
- Always carry water with you. A squirt bottle is effective to cool down your face and extremities.
If symptoms persist even after drinking water and getting into a cooler place, contact your OBGYN right away.
Heat and Sunburn
Being out in the sun while pregnant should be limited since you are more prone to getting sunburn. Always wear sunscreen with SPF 30+ minimum.
Sweating IS your friend. It helps to lower your temperature and keep you cool. If you notice a lack of perspiration, it’s time to go inside and have a cold drink.
Heat and Swollen Legs
Swollen legs can become particularly troublesome, and the swelling can substantially increase during the second half of pregnancy and during the summer months.
How to Stay Cool
If you work, lie down for 30 minutes each day during your lunch break or immediately after returning home.
Elevate your legs at night with a towel or blanket under your knees and ankles.
Wear comfortable shoes maybe even a half size larger.
Reduce salt intake, but don’t eliminate it completely.
Enjoy the warmer weather if you can, but be especially careful to stay hydrated and not allow your body temperature to rise much above normal levels.