Being pregnant is taxing on your body no matter what time of year you're due to deliver, but being heavily pregnant in the heat of summer can make things even more uncomfortable. Here in the northeast it's been so unbearably hot, we can hardly stand it, as I'm sure all the expectant mamas have unfortunately noticed.
Most of us assume pregnant women feel hotter in the summer months because they're carrying around all that extra weight, but as it turns out, their body temperatures are also slightly higher, which makes things even worse.
This puts them at risk for heat exhaustion, because it takes twice the mom's energy for her body to cool off not just her, but her baby as well. And heat exhaustion, characterized by muscle cramps, excessive sweating, weakness, dizziness, and headaches, to name a few symptoms, can lead to heat stroke, which is very detrimental to the mother's health and that of her baby -- and can even lead to pre-term labor or death.
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It's so important to take the proper precautions so overheating does not happen during pregnancy. Here are 10 ways pregnant women can stay cool, comfortable, and safe in the summer months.
- Drink plenty of water -- This is a given, since drinking water is instilled in us from the time we become pregnant. But it's even more important in warmer temperatures, when you're perspiring more and losing electrolytes. Make sure to drink water at a steady pace throughout the day, because if you are thirsty, you're already dehydrated.
- Stay indoors -- Remaining inside in the air conditioning on super-hot days may be a bit of a drag, but it's the best way to protect you and your baby. And if you must venture out of the house, try and avoid leaving during the hottest hours of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Take a dip -- If you have access to a pool, it will help with cooling you off. Just make sure to wear extra sunblock, as pregnant women are more susceptible to sunburn.
- Wear appropriate fabrics -- Don't make the mistake of wearing clothes that don't allow your skin to breathe. Stick to cotton -- and skip the polyester.
- Shower often -- You may wind up feeling the heat even indoors, so taking multiple showers throughout the day will help keep your temperature cooler.
- Carry a spray bottle -- Misting yourself with cool water if you happen to be outdoors will help a bit, and even better if you have a mister with a fan on the spout.
- Eat smaller, lighter meals -- I know, I know, watching what you eat is tough during pregnancy. But eating smaller, more frequent meals will keep your metabolism steady. If you gorge on larger portions, your metabolism has to work harder and generates more heat in your body.
- Use cold compresses -- You're pregnant, for crying out loud. Wet a few washcloths and stick them in your freezer, then pull them out on a hot day, lay down, put your feet up, and place the compress on your forehead. (I did this and it worked like a charm during my pregnancy.)
- Get some rest -- Sometimes there's no better way to beat the heat than taking a nap in a cool, dark room. This is one of the last times you can nap without interruptions whenever you please anyway, so you might as well go for it and stay comfortable in the process.
- Don't over-exert yourself -- Sure, you want to stay in shape during your pregnancy, but working out in the middle of a heat wave isn't worth the risk. Now is the time to take it easy and not do anything that will make you sweat any more than you already are.
How have you been dealing with being pregnant in the summer?