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Sharp Health News

How to beat the summer heat when pregnant

July 22, 2016

How to beat the summer heat when pregnant

Summer’s here! Time to hit the beach, mingle at backyard barbecues and bask in the warmth of long, sunny days. But did you know summer is also the season with the highest birth rate? If you happen to be a mom-to-be in the summertime, don’t let soaring temps and an expanding belly spoil your fun in the sun.

“When you’re pregnant during the summer, you have all the normal discomforts of pregnancy — enlarged abdomen, shortness of breath, swollen ankles — but you also have to deal with the heat,” says Lynn Battaglia, perinatal educator at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

“Part of the challenge is that pregnant women don’t have the same heat tolerance. Having a ‘bun in the oven’ causes your body temperature to run a bit higher than normal, making it very uncomfortable.”

“Air conditioning is a pregnant woman’s best friend during summer. However, if you’re still uncomfortably warm, try placing a cool, damp wash cloth on your forehead or the back of your neck to help you cool down,” she says.

What about puffy feet and swollen ankles? They’re not pretty, but they’re a normal part of pregnancy. The body produces 50 percent more blood and body fluids to meet the needs of the developing baby. The swelling is referred to as edema.

“The very best thing to do for swollen feet is elevate them every chance you get. If possible, elevate them above your hips and try not to cross your legs as this restricts your blood flow,” she says.

Drinking plenty of fluids also helps to beat the heat, but it’s important for another reason. “Dehydration can actually lead to preterm contractions,” Battaglia says.

Pregnant women should drink eight to 12 glasses of water per day, or about 80 ounces. Try cold sports drinks — which keep you cool and help to replace electrolytes — especially if you’re experiencing excessive perspiration.

Summer pregnancies aren’t always easy. Here are eight tips to help you survive:

1. Don’t sweat over a hot stove during the sizzling summer months. Slow cookers are great year-round because they don’t heat up your kitchen. Plus, by the end of the day when you’re completely exhausted, dinner will be ready and waiting. Don’t forget to add cold summer salads and fresh seasonal fruits.

2. Stick to cotton fabrics that are breathable, loose and light-colored.

3. Drink before you feel thirsty. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’ve already become dehydrated.

4. Go swimming. You’ll cool off and help relieve the pressure on your sciatic nerve and joints.

5. Take quick showers frequently to cool off.

6. Do outdoor tasks in the morning or evening when the sun is lower in the sky and temperatures are cooler.

7. Avoid direct midday sun because your skin burns more easily when you’re pregnant. Wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 50.

8. When entering a hot car, roll down the windows to let the hot air out, then turn on the air conditioning and roll the windows back up. It takes a lot longer to cool the hot air in a car.

For more information about pregnancy and interactive resources for moms-to-be, download the free Sharp Baby app by searching “Sharp Baby” in the App Store or on Google Play.

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