Surviving the Summer Heat in Pregnancy

How do you stay cool when pregnant in the summer?
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If you're like me you consider summer to be a pretty hot and uncomfortable time of year. I often look at my women who are so very pregnant and due in the summer months with pity, because I know that pregnancy adds an extra burden to the usual summer heat.

Here are some things that you need to keep in mind during the summer while pregnant, no matter when you're due!

Hydration

Drinking water during pregnancy is very important because of the increased demands on your body.

During summertime, it is even more important to drink lots of water because even slight dehydration can cause severe problems like preterm labor.

Signs of Dehydration

Not drinking enough liquid can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness, nausea and headaches, muscle cramps, and an increase in body temp which can lead to heat exhaustion.

Drink at least two liters of clear liquids, preferably water, a day. If you are outside you need at least eight ounces of water for every hour you are outside. Drink before you get thirsty—thirst can be a sign that you've waited too long.

When dehydration occurs, you lose part of your blood volume. This increases the concentration of the normal amounts of oxytocin (the hormone that causes contractions), therefore causing contractions. These contractions can lead to the premature birth of your baby.

Swelling

Swelling in pregnancy can be a normal physiologic part of pregnancy.

You need to learn to read the signs of normal swelling, which usually increases in the summer particularly if you are later in pregnancy, as not to be alarmed.

Normal swelling in pregnancy will go down after you have rested. It will not appear suddenly. Any swelling that appears suddenly, does not go away after rest (for example, you wake up swollen), or is worrisome needs to be checked out by your practitioner.

Normal swelling can be dealt with by salting your food to taste. This means you need to neither restrict salt completely or overdo it on salt. Many people are not aware that too little salt will also cause swelling to occur.

Rest with your feet up whenever possible. Remove your rings if they are tight, don't risk the pain and misery of having them cut off. Being in water will also help swelling, particularly water that is deeper like shoulder length. This also works really well for women who have higher blood pressure.

Sun

During pregnancy, it's best to avoid direct sunlight. If you are in the sun use a 30-45 SPF sunscreen. Avoid restrictive clothes. This can increase your discomfort and add to swelling problems. Try to go outside in the cooler parts of the sunshine—early morning and late afternoon—rather than high noon. 

Summer can be a great time of year to get out and enjoy your pregnancy. There are many activities that can still be done during pregnancy and with a few simple precautions.

There is no reason you shouldn't enjoy summer. Remember to watch out for warning signs of dehydration, problematic swelling, or other signs that you need to call your practitioner.

When to Call Your Practitioner

  • Contractions or cramps (more than five in one hour)
  • Bright red blood from your vagina
  • Swelling or puffiness of the face or hands (a sign of preeclampsia)
  • Pain during urination (possible urinary tract, bladder, or kidney infection)
  • Sharp or prolonged pain in your stomach (preeclampsia signs)
  • Acute or continuous vomiting (preeclampsia signs)
  • Sudden gush of clear, watery fluid from your vagina
  • Low, dull backache
  • Intense pelvic pressure

The good news is that you can safely enjoy summer fun and stay safe. So get out and enjoy!

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