Pregnant women are among those who need to take extra precautions on those warmer days of summer, but that doesn’t mean you need to avoid the outdoors entirely. “Outdoor activities are not only healthy, but they provide fresh air and Vitamin D,” says Perla LaGuardia, MSN, CNM, APRN, a certified nurse midwife with over 20 years of experience.
Your Body During Pregnancy
Feeling the heat? When you’re pregnant, the amount of blood in your body increases by as much as 50%, which can make you feel warmer than usual. During the third trimester in particular, you may notice yourself a little extra sweaty as your metabolic rate also increases. Combine these changes your body is going through with the summer heat, and you’ll probably find some days pretty uncomfortable.
Of course, the reward at the end of pregnancy is well worth some discomfort, but you can also take a few steps to protect you and your baby from overheating. It’s important to know your boundaries when it comes to being outside and taking extra precautions, as well as upping your water intake.
How Hot is Too Hot?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms of overheating include warm skin, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps and nausea. Pregnant women who have a body temperature of 102.2° F for more than about 10 minutes may start to feel these symptoms, which can lead to trouble for you and your unborn baby, including cramping or contractions.
Safe Practices During the Summer
Just because you’re pregnant, it doesn’t mean you need to stay indoors all summer and miss out on fun opportunities with your family. It does mean that you should follow a few tips to better protect yourself and your baby, such as:
The sun provides Vitamin D, but sunburns can cause dehydration and even cramping or contractions. Make sure to use SPF 30 or higher when outdoors.
Carrying a Mister Bottle
If you feel yourself becoming too warm, give yourself a couple sprays from a refreshing mister.
Exercising/Doing Outdoor Activities at Cooler Times of Day
Headed out for a family walk? Try to fit in in early or after the sun has gone down.
“It decreases pressure on your back, hips and joints and also gives your body much-needed buoyancy during those later months in pregnancy,” says Perla.
Wearing Breathable Fabrics, Including a Hat
Breathable fabrics will help you sweat less and prevent heat rash, and of course a hat will protect your face from too much sun.
Importance of Hydration
Especially during your outdoor activities this summer, aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. For example: 150lbs = 75oz. And it’s best to drink more before, during and after exercises such as walking or swimming. You should also make it a point to choose fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks — such as watermelon, celery and pineapple — that contain lots of water.
When you’re spending time in the sun and heat, you should listen to your body and be sure to drink enough so that you no longer feel thirsty.
“The extra water intake helps in producing a large increase in blood volume, build new tissue, distribute nutrients, regulate your body temperature, ease constipation, decrease urinary tract infections, and flush out toxins and waste. It is also important in the formation of amniotic fluid, supporting your baby's circulatory system, and may help in decreasing preterm labor. With Florida’s summer temperatures, you are more likely to become dehydrated quicker, so it is important to drink water often,” Perla says.
Keep Water Handy
Have a plan before you head out with your family. Pack water bottles to bring with you and consider keeping them by the door where they’re easy for everyone to grab. Encourage frequent water breaks (even for your pets) and talk about its importance with your family members.
Some ways to make it easier is to infuse your water with fruits and herbs. You can find a mix you enjoy! Some infused water ideas are:
Cucumber, mint and lemon
Kiwi and strawberries
Watermelon and lime
Raspberries and mint
Blueberry and lime
Blueberry, lemon and rosemary
Recognize the Signs of Dehydration
Mild dehydration can cause irritability, headache and fatigue, all of which can cause discomfort and possibly concern for you and your baby. If you start to feel you’re overheating, move to a cooler place, drink water, and apply a cool compress to your face as quickly as possible. However, if you’re symptoms are worse, severe dehydration can be a medical emergency. Learning to recognize the signs of severe dehydration can be lifesaving. They are:
Dry lips and mouth
Slow reaction time
If you have extreme thirst, your urine is dark, you are feeling ‘overheated,’ have dizziness, headache and cramping or uterine contractions, Perla suggests you may need to visit the emergency room (less than 20 weeks gestation) or the OB triage (20 weeks gestation or more) for intravenous fluids.
Mother and Baby Care
We’re here for you through your pregnancy and will be here when your little one arrives. To learn more about how to best care for yourself during pregnancy, visit YourCentralFloridaDoctor.com/OBGYN.