It’s not a secret: a summer pregnancy is no picnic (hello sweating, swelling, and generally feeling like a beached whale). Thanks to high levels of the pregnancy hormone progesterone, higher metabolic and resting heart rates, and increased blood flow, your body temp is higher than it was pre-pregnancy.
The result? “You’ll have less reserve to tolerate the two extremes of summer—heat and increased fluid intake and losses,” says Giuseppe Ramunno, M.D., an OB/GYN at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital in Tempe, Arizona. That puts you (and the baby) at higher risk of suffering from dehydration, heat stroke, and other heat related illness. Here’s how to stay cool—and safe—during a summer pregnancy.
Stay-cool tips for your summer pregnancy
Avoid direct sunlight Even if you’re pining for that bronzy glow, resist the urge to spend too much time direct sunlight. Thanks to hormonal influences, you’re more prone to overheating and sunburn. If you do spend time in the sun during a summer pregnancy, do so before 10 AM or 4 PM, and apply sunscreen liberally 20 minutes before going outside.
Drink plenty of fluids Stave off summer pregnancy dehydration on hot days by drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily (if you’re out in the sun, chug 8 ounces every half hour). Juice, milk, and sports drinks are smart choices, too, since they’ll help replace electrolytes lost from sweat. Another tip: Steer clear of drinks that act like diuretics and steal more water from your body than they provide, like soda, coffee, and tea, Ramunno says.
Eat lighter meals Paying attention to what you eat can help you stay cool during your summer pregnancy. Eating lighter, more frequent meals filled with healthy pregnancy foods will keep your metabolism working at a steady clip (as opposed to large, infrequent meals, which force your metabolism to work overtime and generate more heat). Cool off even more with a refreshing summer pregnancy mocktail, like fresh-squeezed orange juice and seltzer over crushed ice. Or make healthy popsicles by freezing fruit juice.
Exercise early Exercising while pregnant is always smart. But on hot summer days, try working out in the early morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. If you’re outside and temps are already climbing, move into the shade and carry a spray bottle of water to spritz yourself. And when temps are 10 degrees above your area’s normal summer temperature or the air is excessively humid, consider opting for an indoor workout instead. Also important to remember when exercising during a summer pregnancy: If you start to feel weak or dizzy at any time, go indoors and rest.
Squash swelling As if the usual late pregnancy symptoms weren’t enough, summer’s scorching heat makes swelling even worse. Cutting back on excess salt in foods like chips or popcorn will minimize bloat caused by water retention. Keeping your feet elevated can help, too, by improving circulation.
Take a dip In addition to being cool and refreshing, a bout in the water can help reduce summer pregnancy back pain and swelling. Swim laps or water jog as an alternative to walking or jogging outside, or just float and relax. Not only will you cool off, but you’ll also experience the added bliss of weightlessness. No access to a pool? Take a cool shower or bath.
Wear the right clothes Avoid overheating by wearing natural, breathable fabrics, like loose-fitting cotton or linen. Choose light colors over dark ones, which reflect sunlight rather than absorb it, keeping you cooler. For shoes, stick to open-toed sandals with straps for added support.