If you’re reading this, you are searching for hot tips on how to sweat it out during summer while pregnant. Accompanied by a kaleidoscope of symptoms, pregnancy can be difficult on its own. The heat from the summer months can make many of those symptoms a bit more difficult.
Dr. Rochelle Christensen, M.D., FACOG, is an OB/GYN at Rapid City Obstetrics and Gynecology. According to her, pregnancy can increase body temperature slightly as metabolism and cardiac output are increased, which can make the added heat of summer more of a threat. To make it through the coming months, follow our survival guide with advice from Dr. Christensen.
Pools and Lakes, Your New Best Friends
We know you married your best friend, and that’s why you are in this predicament, but swimming or wading is going to become your new best friend. Wading in one of the Black Hills lakes or any source of cool water will help to control your internal body temperature. If you’re experiencing body aches, the weightlessness of wading in water can help relieve the pressure on your back and feet. Once you get in, you may never want to leave!
Lay off the Fries
Sometimes you just want to dig into some salty French fries or dip them in Wendy’s Frosties, but did you know too much salt intake increases inflammation and swelling? We aren’t saying you can’t eat salt at all, but don’t go overboard. Incorporate some different flavor combos into your diet, and try new foods. Not to mention, it’s imperative you keep nutrients up and eat healthily; Dr. Christen says, “It is important to eat foods rich with folate, iron, calcium, and protein. Folic acid can prevent birth defects and nausea in pregnancy, and as much as we all love coffee, limit your caffeine intake.”
Chug, chug, chug! Keep water in your system. When you’re going to town on errands, pack a water bottle; going to a friend’s house or visiting family? Bring a water bottle. “Later in pregnancy, dehydration can contribute to low amniotic fluid, inadequate breast milk production, and even premature labor. It is very important to stay hydrated,” Dr. Christensen advises. It’s easier to become dehydrated in summer; keeping a steady flow of water in your system helps with overall health as well as battling fatigue and joint pain.
Tip: Not a fan of water? Infuse your water with citrus, cucumber, or berries for a unique flavor and an extra source of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants!
Dr. Christensen’s three tips for staying hydrated:
- Water is the number one way to stay hydrated, and we’ve all been told to drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water daily. Pregnant women and breastfeeding moms need extra water. If you’re bored with water, try a sports drink like Gatorade or Body Armor, especially in the summer heat.
- Skim and low fat milk not only provide important nutrients and plenty of protein, but contain electrolytes that help balance water in your body. Milk can rehydrate just as well as sports drinks after intense exercise or for athletes.
- Fruits and vegetables contain up to 90% water, so enhance your summer diet with watermelon, muskmelon, cucumbers, celery, strawberries, and cauliflower.
Try to stay calm and comfortable. Remember to relax and laugh. “If all else fails, you can always blame ‘the hormones,’” Dr. Christensen jokes. Kick off your everyday shoes, and enjoy the fresh air under some shade or indoors with the air conditioning! Why wear warm socks and stuffy shoes when you can let your swollen ankles breathe in a pair of flip-flops or go barefoot?
Did you know many skin care products can be unsafe for pregnant women? Dr. Christensen says women should cleanse with gentle products twice a day, to go easy on the skin. She continues, “A moisturizer with SPF applied every day is gentle and healthy for your skin, as well.” Hormonal changes in pregnancy can make skin more prone to burning and UV damage; without sunscreen, Dr. Christensen says you should avoid sun exposure after more than 15 minutes. On the other hand, if you are wearing sunscreen with at least SPF 30, drinking plenty of water, and wearing a hat, you are able to bathe in the sun for a little longer. “Sun exposure provides vitamin D, which aids in bone growth of the fetus, and can provide immunity for you and baby,” Dr. Christensen adds.
We know you want to maintain your weight and health even while pregnant, but don’t push it too far. If you’ve never exercised before pregnancy, Dr. Christensen says that now is not the time to try an intense exercise or weight loss program. Athletes who have already been working out can continue most activities, but with added caution to avoid overheating. “Exercise in pregnancy has shown benefit to most women and has minimal risks,” Dr. Christensen says. “Exercise may reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, preterm birth, preeclampsia, and cesarean birth, improving the chances of a vaginal delivery.” Hormones in pregnancy can also make joints more lax, increasing risk of injury or imbalance. Dr. Christensen adds, “Therefore, special focus is needed with pregnancy to avoid injury.”
- Stationary cycling
- Aerobic exercises
- Stretching exercises like prenatal yoga, swimming, water aerobics, etc.
Exercises to Avoid:
- Scuba diving
- Contact sports (you could get hit in the abdomen)
- Off-road cycling & water skiing (activities with a high chance of falling)
- Hot yoga or pilates (may cause you to become overheated)
- And last but not least, Dr. Christensen says absolutely no cliff jumping at Sheridan Lake
Oops… You Pushed it Too Far
We know that you aren’t going to avoid being outdoors the whole summer, so this is always a possibility. If you overheat and start to feel light headed or dizzy, get indoors as quickly as possible. After you find a cool place to sit, get a glass of water and place a cool, damp cloth on your skin to help you cool off more quickly. If that doesn’t do it, try sitting in the shower and run luke-warm to cool water over your body for a quick cool-down. Dr. Christensen cautions, “If you are still feeling overheated or have symptoms of nausea, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, or are having regular contractions, then call a doctor or go to the hospital.”
Dr. Christensen and her husband, Jens, have three kids. “Although I’m a physician and my husband is a nonmedical professional, we both learned about pregnancy as our first pregnancy progressed. Lean on each other because during pregnancy the focus is often on the expectant mother, and the expectant father may get left out,” Dr. Christensen adds. She also says despite summer seeming “tougher,” it’s a great time for a new baby. “The fresh air, sunshine, and lack of flu or other illness in the summertime is perfect for newborns.”