Excessive heat and humidity can be hard on anyone. Pregnancy only intensifies those feelings. If you are due in the summer or early fall, you can relate. You don’t have to have a miserable summer, but you do need to take a few extra precautions.
First of all, and I cannot reiterate this enough, keep yourself hydrated. That means making sure you drink plenty of fluids. Water is best, but so are occasional juices and sports drinks which replace electrolytes that are being sweated away. Infuse fruits into your water to give it more taste if you need to. You do not want to let yourself get dehydrated. It can worsen pregnancy aches like swelling and can even trigger preterm contractions, so drink up!
During pregnancy, many women have increased sensitivity to the sun. This means you might burn more easily and may need to wear more sunscreen than usual. Basically, you should never leave the house without wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Make sure you cover all of your skin. Don’t overlook ears, neck or feet and remember to reapply every few hours and after swimming or towel drying.
Don’t rely on sunscreen alone to keep your skin protected. Wear loose, lightly-colored clothing. This reflects the sun’s rays rather than absorbing them as dark colors do. Cotton, linen and natural fibers are best because they are light, airy and comfortable.
Wear a hat. The best choice is a hat with a wide brim that covers your face and neck. That fact that these are very fashionable at the moment is just another perk. The same can be said about a good pair of sunglasses. Don’t feel guilty about spending a little extra on a good pair of UV- filtered sun glasses. They protect the eyes from painful sunburns, cataracts, and glaucoma. Also, the skin around the eyes, including the lids, is one of the most prone areas to skin cancer!
Go to the pool! If you’ve got a pool, use it often. If you don’t have one, get a large inflatable pool. These are relatively inexpensive and can hold several people. You’ll love the option of going to your back yard and relaxing in the cool water. If you have other children at home, they will love it too! Now is not the time to consider tanning or laying in the sun – stay in the shade. A big umbrella with a glass of ice cold water should be your “go to” destination. If possible, use a canopy or position umbrella over the pool for the ultimate pregnancy paradise.
Sometimes, it’s better to just stay indoors. If it’s too hot (heat index in the 90’s) stay inside with air conditioning. If you must go out, try to limit the outside activity to the cooler parts of the day such as early morning or evening. Also, carry a spray/mister bottle around with you. Nothing feels better than a cold mist on your face, forehead and neck.
All of these tips are simple to do, but sometimes it’s hard to know when you’ve been out too long. Get indoors at the first sign of dizziness, fatigue or excessive thirst. Lie down in a cool area and hydrate. If you don’t feel better soon, call your provider.
See you at the pool!
Tyler Halvaksz, CNM
Lexington Women’s Health