Summer brings sunny days, warm nights and the occasional heat wave. For pregnant women, the hot days can increase their discomfort and can be dangerous, says Lindsey Bruce, M.D., an ob/gyn physician at Newport Hospital's Drexel Birthing Center.
"Summer is always more difficult for the moms who are due in the summer or fall. Their bodies are already running at a higher temperature so staying cool is a challenge, but still a must," Bruce says. "Going about their normal routines in the summer can exhaust pregnant women so it's important for them to take precautions."
Bruce notes that one of the key ways to not overheat is to take time to rest, even just for 30 minutes a day. This gives women an opportunity to put their feet up, which can help with swollen ankles.
Hydration also plays an important role in helping to beat the heat. "Pregnant women's bodies are working very hard, especially in the summertime. Water and juices are one way to rehydrate. Sports drinks also have their place for expecting women since they contain electrolytes that can help to retain fluid and replenish lost salts," says Bruce, adding that women should stay away from overly sugary drinks since those can lead to more weight gain.
Additionally, Bruce recommends maintaining a healthy diet, eating lots of fruits and vegetables to keep the pregnant body strong and running smoothly. "Frozen smoothie drinks are a great snack for pregnant women," she says. "Fruits and vegetables contain much-needed vitamins and nutrients, and because smoothies are best served cold they can help keep you cool, too."
She also recommends:
- Planning the day - Try to accomplish outdoor tasks in the morning or the evenings. The sun is lower in the sky during these times; therefore, it is cooler and more manageable for pregnant women.
- Be conscious of clothing - Be sure to pick outfits that have light colors so as not to attract the sun and cause even more exhaustion. Also wear loose fabrics in order not to trap any heat close to your body.
- Elevating feet - It may be an overused recommendation, but it is highly important for reducing and alleviating swelling of the ankles.
- Showers - Frequent, short showers can help relieve the uncomfortable feelings that come with the heat. Although they are temporary, showers can help pregnant women to stay cool for an hour to two hours afterward.
- Carry a water sprayer - If it is necessary to do tasks in the middle of the day, a water sprayer can be a big help. This will help keep the body cool and prevent it from overheating, similar to showering.
- Ask for help - Do not be hesitant to reach out for assistance from a significant other, parent, older child or friends. Expecting mothers should be anything but stressed while they are carrying, so asking for help is a healthy activity.