Summer means fun in the sun, frolicking in a pool and eating hot dogs and potato salad at family picnics – unless you are pregnant.
When expecting, you need to take precautions with your health - no matter the time of year. During the summer months, though, you need to be extra careful. Heat and humidity can cause additional stress on you and your baby.
A woman’s body temperature already is elevated during pregnancy. Being out in the summer sun can make it worse. Spiked temperatures can cause heatstroke in the mother and can trigger premature labor and delivery.
When your core temperature rises above 102 degrees, your baby could have a neural tube defect. This defect is the same reason that pregnant women are advised to stay out of hot tubs and saunas. Heatstroke during pregnancy can also cause miscarriages and maternal death, according to babymed.com.
Parent.com, which offers a summer pregnancy survival guide, says common sense prevails. Staying inside and taking advantage of air conditioning is important. So, too, is wearing light clothing.
Here are some other tips to keep cool for you and your baby when outside temperatures are higher:
- Drink a lot of water and juice, at least 6 to 8 glasses a day. Limit soda and ice tea that has caffeine to 2 glasses a day.
- Eat light, non-spicy foods like salads and fruit. Do not eat large amounts of foods that have high salt content, like potato chips and fast food.
- Limit outside activity between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is usually the hottest time of day. Do outdoor activities in the early morning, late afternoon, or early evening.
- Use fans, air conditioning, or both if you have them.
- Put cool compresses on your face, back of the neck, and wrists.
- Outside, wear light clothes that cover your skin and head to protect you from the sun.
- Use sunblock on your skin when you are outside.
- Take frequent rest periods, lying on your side with your feet up.
- If the heat is too much for you, try to get other people to help with household chores, activities, and childcare.
- Try not to use the oven or cook after 11 a.m., especially if you do not have air conditioning. Use a microwave if you have one.
- Take cool baths or showers as needed, or go to a pool if possible.
- Soak your feet in cool water and keep your feet up if swelling occurs.
- Wear sturdy shoes like tennis shoes. Do not walk in flat sandals, “flip flops,” or slippers. These do not support your feet.
- Try to spend time in places where it may be cooler than in your own home, like the movies, the library, or the mall.
- Keep windows closed and blinds or curtains drawn during the day. Open them at night.
- Not only does swimming cool you off, but it also helps to take some of the weight off your sciatic nerve. (Even ocean swimming is fine; just make sure the waves don't knock you down.)
- Carry a water-filled squirt bottle so that you can mist yourself when you start to feel warm.
- Exercise at the cooler times of day and avoid exercising to the point of overheating.
For more information about Summer Pregnancies, contact the Johnson Memorial Women’s Health Specialists.