Did you know that in the United States, more babies are born in the summer than at any other time of the year? The higher temperatures and humidity can make you feel hot and uncomfortable. Luckily, aside from the typical advice of staying hydrated, there are some other things you can do to help keep cool and comfortable.
How Can Summer Heat Affect Pregnancy?
During the first trimester, the hormone progesterone can increase body temperature. The increased heat and humidity can make this feel worse. Additionally, the extra weight of the baby can make it difficult to move around and stay cool.
Common Pregnancy Complications Caused by Heat
- Edema – Water retention is a common pregnancy symptom but can be exacerbated by heat exposure.
- Dehydration – Not drinking enough fluids can lead to dehydration, which can be dangerous for both mother and baby.
- Heat exhaustion – Prolonged exposure to heat can cause heat exhaustion, characterized by nausea, dizziness, and headaches.
- Heatstroke – In extreme cases, heat exposure can lead to heatstroke, which is a medical emergency. Symptoms include high body temperature, confusion, and loss of consciousness. If you think you or someone you know is suffering from heatstroke, call 911 immediately.
How Do I Deal With Pregnancy in the Summer?
Taking special care to stay cool and hydrated is key to dealing with the summertime heat, regardless of whether one is pregnant or not. But, pregnant women should take extra care to avoid the heat as much as possible.
Here are a few things you can do to combat the heat during summer pregnancies:
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing – Clothing that is tight or dark in color will absorb and trap more heat and make you feel hotter. Instead, opt for loose, light-colored clothing that will reflect the heat and help keep you cool.
- Stay in the shade – Whenever possible, stay in the shade or indoors to avoid direct sunlight. If you must be in the sun, try to limit your exposure as much as possible and take breaks in the shade as needed.
- Use fans and air conditioning – Fans and air conditioning can help circulate air and keep you cool. If possible, stay in an air-conditioned room or car when it is hot outside.
- Avoid hot showers and baths – Hot showers and baths may feel refreshing at first, but they will actually make you feel hotter once you step out of the water. Instead, take cooler showers or baths to help lower your body temperature.
- Drink plenty of fluids – It is important to stay hydrated during pregnancy, but it is even more important in the summer. Drink plenty of water and avoid beverages that contain caffeine or a lot of sugar, as they can actually dehydrate you.
- Eat smaller meals – Eating large meals can increase your body temperature and make you feel hotter. Instead, try to eat small, frequent meals to help keep your energy up without making you feel too hot.
- Avoid strenuous activity – Avoiding strenuous activity will help reduce your body temperature and prevent you from becoming overheated. If possible, exercise in the cooler hours of the day or in an air-conditioned space.
- Keep healthy, frozen treats on hand– Frozen grapes and homemade popsicles are great to keep in the freezer for a cool treat.
- Listen to your body – Pregnant women should always listen to their bodies and take breaks as needed. If you feel too hot or are starting to feel faint, find a cool place to rest and drink plenty of fluids.
If you start to feel overheated or faint, be sure to seek medical attention immediately.
Dr. Keith Lescale is board-certified in both OB/GYN and Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our four convenient locations.