By Paul Itam, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
High heat and humidity can really take a toll on a pregnant woman. Your body temperature is already higher than the body temperature of someone who isn’t pregnant. During pregnancy, elevated levels of pregnancy hormone and a faster metabolism help to contribute to the increase in your core body temperature, so you feel much warmer than others do. You’re also likely to sweat more, but this is a cooling mechanism that helps to control your body’s temperature. By knowing ways to keep cool, you will be able to survive the summer months more comfortably.
How to Keep Cool
• Wear lightweight clothing made from breathable fabrics, such as cotton or other natural fibers, so you won’t get overheated. This will help to keep you cooler and prevent heat rash that can develop under your breasts and abdomen.
• Carry a water bottle with you, preferably a water-filled squirt bottle, so you can keep yourself hydrated and mist yourself when the heat feels like it’s getting to you.
• Exercise either early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid getting overheated.
• Swim so you can get away from the summer sun, get some exercise in, and cool off, all at the same time. Swimming helps to take some weight off your sciatic nerve.
• Use a sunscreen or sunblock with a high SPF. Also, avoid being out and about around high noon – because women who are pregnant are more prone to sunburn – and take COVID-19 precautions with regard to coming in contact with others. Wear a face covering, maintain a minimum 6 feet of distance from other people, and avoid large gatherings.
• Drink at least one eight-ounce glass of water for each hour you are outdoors in the summer.
• Use a cool, damp washcloth on the back of your neck, forehead, and the top of your head to keep your body temperature down.
• Avoid doing any vigorous activities outdoors during the summer. Depending on your trimester, it may be best to slow your routine down and try to relax more.
• For extremely hot days, it’s best to stay indoors, preferably in an air-conditioned space. It’s not worth the risk of getting overheated outdoors.
• Most importantly, get indoors at the first sign of lightheadedness, weakness, fatigue, dizziness, or excessive thirst. Lie down and drink some water. If you still don’t feel better, call your doctor right away.
Being pregnant during the summer doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. As long as you follow these simple tips for staying cool, you will have a less stressful summer pregnancy.