Pregnant woman on the beach with a watermelon slice on her belly

Primary Care, Child Health | 17 days ago

Hot Weather Hacks: Eight Ways Expectant Moms Can Beat the Heat

A summer pregnancy may not be easy. But with some extra care and planning, expectant moms can stay safe, comfortable and happy throughout the summer season.

Hey there, moms-to-be! As the temperature rises, so do the challenges of being pregnant during the summer. Pregnancy naturally causes an intolerance to heat, making hot weather extra uncomfortable for expectant moms. 

Heat safety is important for pregnant women since they are at a higher risk for certain health issues. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women are at a higher risk for developing heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke and heat exhaustion. That’s because your body must work harder to keep you and your baby cool. Pregnant women can also become dehydrated more easily. 

“Extreme heat during pregnancy can elevate your internal body temperature and cause fever,” explains Dr. Katie Borders, obstetrician and gynecologist with Atrium Health Women’s Care Shelby OB-GYN. “High fevers and dehydration have been linked to pregnancy-related complications. For example, dehydration can contribute to low amniotic fluid and decreased breast milk production.”

But don’t worry! With extra care and planning, you can breeze through those sunny days feeling cool, comfortable and completely in control.

Eight tips for surviving a summer pregnancy

If you’re ready to embrace all that summer has to offer, follow these tips from Borders’ summer pregnancy survival guide:

  1. Stay hydrated. Beat the heat by sipping on water throughout the day, regardless of your activity level. Add a splash of flavor with infused water, or indulge in hydrating fruits such as watermelon, cucumber and strawberries. Freeze some coconut water into ice cubes for a refreshing treat! Avoid caffeinated, sugary beverages, which can cause dehydration. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to replenish your fluids; this is an early sign of dehydration. 
  1. Eat and snack healthy. Keep your cravings in check with nutritious summer snacks. Try Greek yogurt with berries, sliced avocado on whole-grain toast or crunchy vegetables with hummus. These light, refreshing snacks will keep you fueled and feeling great all day long. Avoid hot and heavy meals, which can increase your body temperature.
  1. Combat swelling. Elevate your feet whenever possible, especially after a day of activity. Consider wearing compression socks to improve circulation and reduce swelling. A soothing foot soak in cool water may help you to relax. 
  1. Exercise smart. Stay active during your summer pregnancy with exercises tailored to your changing body. Try low-impact activities such as swimming, prenatal yoga or leisurely walks in the shade. Avoid any strenuous activities that could cause your body to overheat. Remember to listen to your body and take breaks when needed.

 

“It’s best to start slowly and increase your activity steadily, especially if you’re not used to exercising in a hot climate,” Borders recommends. “If exercising in the heat makes your heart race or causes breathing problems, stop the activity immediately. Move to a cool area, drink some water and rest.” 

  1. Beat the heat. Keep cool by seeking shade and dressing in loose, breathable fabrics. Stay indoors during peak sun hours, limiting outdoor activities to morning and evening hours. Taking frequent breaks in air-conditioned areas helps control body temperature. Treat yourself to a hand-held fan or a misting spray for instant relief on scorching summer days. Place a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead to lower your body temperature.
  1. Travel safely. Traveling while pregnant can be a breeze with a little preparation. Pack plenty of snacks, stay hydrated and take frequent breaks to stretch your legs. Don't forget to bring your favorite pregnancy pillow for comfortable naps on the go!
  1. Save your skin. Protect your body and baby bump from harmful ultraviolet rays by staying indoors during peak sun hours and using SPF 30 or higher sunscreen when you need to be outdoors. Reapply regularly, especially after swimming or sweating. Stylish sun hats and oversized sunglasses also provide sun protection.
  1. Stay informed. Check local news reports for heat alerts and safety updates. Find out if your community offers cooling (or heat-relief) centers. These indoor havens of comfort provide air conditioning and hydration, allowing visitors to rest and recharge.

 

Symptoms of heat-related illness

You could develop a heat-related illness if your body becomes dehydrated or overheated. Watch out for the following symptoms of heat-related illness:

  • Body temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Fast pulse
  • Headache
  • Extreme sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

 

If you experience any of these symptoms, move to a cooler location and take steps to lower your body temperature. Seek medical help immediately if you experience symptoms that get worse or last longer than one hour.

Remember, your body is doing something truly amazing and deserves extra care during the summer season. With safety and comfort in mind, it’s time to embrace the sunshine, indulge in those summer cravings and enjoy every moment of your pregnancy journey.

Consult your OB-GYN to discuss specific questions or recommendations regarding heat safety during pregnancy. Learn more about services and support provided by Atrium Health Women’s Care.