Being pregnant in summer has gotten a bad rap because it’s so hot out, especially if you are in your third trimester you are already uncomfortable that the threat of overheating on top of it makes for some women’s worst nightmares!
It’s understandable to be concerned when temperatures rise both outside and in our bodies. Especially when you consider that Pregnant Mamma’s are more susceptible to things like heat exhaustion and dehydration (see the CDC site for more details).
While for the most part, serious issues don’t come up until we get close to feverish temperatures, pregnant Mamma’s need to take extra care. At any point in your pregnancy you don’t want to feel overheated, but especially in the first and third trimesters when excessive heat exposure could lead to complications for you or baby.
As always you should discuss any concerns you have about this or any other aspect of your pregnancy with your care provider (doctor or Midwife).
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What are the Side Effects of Heat During Pregnancy?
A Bloody Nose
Our body is built to protect us from all sorts of things and our noses bleeding could be one of those built-in protections. Higher temps can raise your blood pressure which your body isn’t going to like anywhere near your head. Some of us are more susceptible to this than others as we may have a thinner lining in our noses. And if you are slightly dehydrated or in dry air a lot you may find that your nose bleeds more frequently.
I know that this is one of the things I had to deal with frequently in my first pregnancy. And it is your body’s way of telling you that you need more liquids and a cooler area. If you start getting these talk to your Doctor or Midwife, they are not always serious but can also indicate an underlying issue that you might want to be checked out.
Babies are not the only ones prone to heat rash, during pregnancy our basal temperature is usually raised slightly above our normal. Combine that with the added friction of moving a larger body around you have a recipe for heat rash. (Think under your boobs, and believe me it’s not fun).
To reduce the risk, remember to wear loose-fitting clothing and to air out all your creases a few times a day. If possible freeze your bra as well or stuff it with ice packs to help keep the temperature lower. Some women also swear by adding oils or a powder where skin touches skin to reduce the friction.
Dehydration is when your body does not have enough water. This can show up as things like being thirsty (usually the first sign), dry mouth, loss of appetite, chills, and fatigue, and your skin getting flushed.
Also, it’s worth it to note that a natural defense against being overly hot is to sweat if you are dehydrated you lose the effectiveness of that protection. It’s also easier for pregnant women to get dehydrated since our bodies require more water at that time naturally.
To stave off dehydration get yourself a good water bottle, bonus points for one that is insulated to keep cool drinks in! And fill it regularly with water. If you have issues drinking water on it’s own check out these tips on staying hydrated during pregnancy.
A relatively minor side effect, heat cramps should nonetheless be taken seriously as they can lead to more serious concerns. As our bodies lose electrolytes from sweating our muscles will start to cramp. If you feel cramps of any kind while in the heat take some time to cool off as soon as you can.
If heat cramps are ignored they could lead to heat exhaustion which can be life-threatening for both Mamma and baby. Symptoms are similar to heat stroke so watch for headaches, dizziness, and a fast weak pulse. Skin sometimes also becomes pale and may feel cool to the touch. If you experience contractions, serious cramps or vomiting CALL YOUR DOCTOR or MIDWIFE right away!
It has been noted by the CDC that excess heat could increase your chances of having a baby with birth defects. This is usually measured by Mamma’s core body temperature and is particularly focused on the first trimester.
How to stay cool this summer
There are a tone of ways to enjoy the outdoors and stay cool at the same time, but it also should be noted that if possible staying inside when you have airconditioning is an option! But for those of us who love the outdoors or have a family (read toddler and/or husband) who love being outside all the time here are some tips and hacks to help you beat the heat.
Keep water with you
Hydration is super important in pregnancy, so keep that water bottle with you or some other way of staying hydrated.
Wear the right clothing
The main thing to remember when shopping for Summer Maternity Clothing is to keep it loose-fitting and light in color and where possible all cotton. The loose fit will help with airflow and lets your skin breathe preventing some rashes, and the lighter color will help to reflect the sun so you don’t have to fight off as much heat. And Cotton breathes better than most other fabrics.
Put Your Feet up
Extra heat is bound to make anyone swell just that little bit more, add in pregnancy swelling (especially in your third trimester) and you might start to feel more like a balloon than human.
Put your pillowcase in the freezerLiz @ Playspired.com
Use Kinesiology Tape
Also known as KT-Tape this sports tape can help promote circulation and relieve pressure on aching muscles and joints. Usually worn by sports athletes it is a universal aide to treat, recover and prevent injuries. The awesome part is you don’t need to be a specialist in applying it!
Have good footwear
Speaking of our feet having comfy footwear is important at all times, and during pregnancy something that adapts to the inevitable swelling is important! Also, a good idea is to make sure they are properly supportive, flipflops might look comfy but if you need to be walking a lot or even standing you’ll likely be cursing them later. Go for an open-sided sandal that has straps to hold it in place and has solid support for the best option in airflow and function.
Crank your AC
Or at least find places you can go that have AC for you to stay cool in. If you are out for some fun with hubby make sure your destination has AC (like a movie theater or the mall)
Have a water mister
water is a great way to keep cool, both from drinking it and from spraying it on your body. Use one of those handheld automatic misters or just get a spray bottle and spritz yourself whenever you feel the need to cool off.
Use your shower
A cool shower can bring your temp down quickly if you are close to over heating or just uncomfortable.
I dunked my feet in ice cold water in the bath if I was extra hot! Thos portable misting fans were amazing. And I would make herbal tea the day before I wanted it, stick it in the fridge and drink it the next day with ice cubes!Jenni @ RootsOfTruth.ca
Eat frozen yummies
I’m thinking things like popsicles, ice cream and your fav frozen fruit. Also a great idea to stick to cool salads instead of baking for meals if you can.
Freeze your electrolytes
Part of the problem with muscle cramps is that we are low on electrolytes, freeze a re-hydrating drink packed with electrolytes and add to your regular water or just suck on them as needed to help keep your balance.
Ditch the Restrictive clothing and jewelry
Nothing drives home the fact that you’re swelling like rings you can’t get off your fingers… or clothing that suddenly feels too tight so you can’t move. Put rings on a chain you can wear as a necklace, and keep clothing loose fitting so you can move freely.
Stay in the water
Know where in your area there are water spots, either splash pads, pools, or put up a sprinkler or kiddie pool in your own back yard. If you have kids who want to play outside getting a water table will keep them entertained for hours!
Go out in the early morning or late evening (ie when the sun isn’t scorching)
The sun is usually hottest in our area from about 10 am to 4 pm (ish), so right now I’m avoiding being outdoors during that time frame. The earlier in the morning you go out the cooler it will be, so enjoy that time if you can (and are a morning person).
I heard this one on the radio: Mist your sheets with water before you go to bed. Haven’t tried it yet myself.Marybeth @ LifestyleForRealLife.com
Use your Command Start
I live in a climate that ranges in temps from freeze your tush off in winter (with a couple of feet of snow too boot) to sweltering hot in summer. If you have a remote start for your vehicle and you know you will be in it soon then start it up and let that AC chill the interior before you get there!
Have the right stuff to keep the heat down in your Car/Vehicle
In winter I want the extra heat the sun adds to my car by heating up the windshield, in summer I want to block that (especially since I have a 40 minute drive home from work each day). To keep my car cooler I got a windshield sunscreen that reflects the sun’s heat… after using it for a couple of weeks I can honestly say they help! Bonus if you can crack your windows as well (just enough for airflow) and you will have a cooler vehicle to get into.
Use Cooling Rags
A washcloth or a special cloth like the Arctic Skin clothes can be used in various ways to keep cool. Soak in water and freeze or just shake them out to have them cool off again works well.
Take a shower before bed. And put a little fan on your night stand. Avoid any warm drinks in the evening!Ashley @ MomLikeYouMeanIt.com
Freeze things you commonly use
Like your pillowcase (or pillow if you can) before you use it. I’ve also been freezing my cloth pads so areas, where I sweat more, have an absorbent cushion and are cooler (at least for a short time).
I did the frozen washclothes – put them in the freezer and wrapped around my neck and wrists (points to cool down fast). I also ate a lot of watermelon because it was so refreshing and also hydrating.Beth @ TheDGAFMom.com
Reduce your sodium intake
Ok, this isn’t really a cooling off trick but it’s a good tip, excess sodium can make you feel dry and it can increase your swelling.
Stay in the Shade
As much as sunscreen and water can help, a rather obvious option is also to stay in the shade. Snag yourself a good umbrella for beach outings as well because that sun is really nasty if you are on the sand!
You should also check out Christina from RaisingBiracialBabies.com on staying cool during summer.
Ok, there are a few things you should definitely have with you when outdoors, not just when pregnant but for everyone.
You should have a broad spectrum, with at least an SPF of 30, and preferably without oxybenzone.
I look for all-natural, pregnancy-safe but make sure you are covered. Some bugs that bite carry potential diseases that could affect your baby long term so prevent those bites! According to recent research, pregnant women are more attractive to things like mosquitoes because we breathe more frequently and have higher body temps which make us easier to find. If you don’t have bug spray get the coils or citronella or something to keep them away.
Wearing a wide-brimmed hat (sometimes called a sun hat) is a great way to shield your sensitive skin. Some even look cuter on pregnant women
This is a classic from ages past when you are hot wave a hand fan in your face for some relief. These days you can get battery operated ones and even ones with misters to help keep cool.
I was pregnant in Ghana, it was awful because it was so hot here. I was also dealing with morning sickness. I found that sucking ice cubes and eating frozen mango pieces helped me a lot with the heat, especially as I couldn’t stomach drinking water.Dela @ BrownSkinMama.com
Chopping your hair short is one way to get it off your neck, but if you don’t want to have to deal with sweat plastering it down onto your skin all the time grab some hair ties and pull it back. You could even put it up in a bun to keep that tail off your neck to.
These are great for helping you keep food and drinks cool while you lounge outdoors, but also stick one of those suckers in your bra, against your chest, or practically anywhere for a few minutes to help cool off.
Eat more ice cream….haha! Unfortunately, probably not a doctor approved cool down tips. But for a healthier option, go hang out at the air conditioned mall or grocery store. Let the younger children wander, you follow. Or, for maintaining you mental health, keep them in the stroller and go at your pace.Anna @ AbrazoAndCoze.com
If you plan on going to the pool or lake it’s a good idea to snag a new swimsuit. If you like a solid one-piece check that the fabric has enough give for baby, or try a bikini and use your sunscreen frequently.
Fill plastic ziplocks with ice and put them in bed with you. Freeze wet wash cloths and put them on your neck. Definitely the cold shower before bed thing helped. I also had one of those personal fans attached to a misting bottle of water. And I ate snow cones like it was my job. Just a few things I did lolElizabeth @ WorthWritingFor.com
Sore feet are an issue in pregnancy, add to that the swelling that can happen and you likely won’t fit your old sandals.
Spray bottle or mister
Fill it with water and spritz yourself as you need to cool down. Our bodies are made to sweat when we are hot, and this means your body isn’t having to produce as much sweat since you are doing it for it, keeping that precious water where you need it most!
This one should go without saying, every pregnant woman needs a water bottle to help stay hydrated. And your water bottle will be a Godsend on hot days, try an insulated one so you can add ice cubes or frozen fruit to it that stays cooler longer.
Maternity Clothes made for Summer Fun
If you are going to have fun in summer it’s always great to look cute while doing it, especially if you have this adorable bump to show off! And the great thing is these days we don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort just because the temperature rose.
When I’m pregnant I sleep in my husband’s cotton undershirts. The thin, loose cotton feels really cooling.Jessica @ MommyComesClean.com
Maxi Dresses – You want these, trust me! I’m not huge into wearing skirts or dresses but this pregnancy I’ve been having a hard time wearing anything else in the heat. A nice light dress with fabric reaching your ankles means you also don’t need to worry about shaving. Plus for some reason, I find these are even cooler than wearing shorts, not sure why since I figured that the shorts would be cooler but nope! (BONUS: if you do start to feel hot you have a built-in fan, just start swishing your skirts around to create some cooling air movement.)
Wear dresses! I bought a bunch of oversized thin flowy dresses and it was life changing. No pants for the winRachel @ ThisCraftyHome.com
Skirts – similar to the maxi dress in reason, these just tend to be cooler and they come in loads of different lengths to suit your taste.
Shorts – If they are comfy a good set of maternity shorts can be great, just don’t forget your spritz bottle or to douse your legs in water every now and then.
Tank Tops – Having your arms free of fabric is a great way to keep your temp lower. I stocked up on basic tanks this year in a variety of styles as they can be worn like undershirts or a simple top to stay cool.
Cotton everything. I remember with my September baby I went out and bought a bunch of PJ shorts and loose shirts with no spandex. It made an incredible difference.Charisty @ JoyFitFam.com
A fun Maternity Shirt – I think we all deserve to have some fun with our pregnancy, and a fun shirt about being pregnant is my way of poking the people around me with some extra cuteness.
In short, a summer pregnancy is not necessarily the end of outdoor adventures, just make sure you stay hydrated and protected as best you can. And always seek the advice of a trained professional if you have questions or concerns, even if you think they are minor.
I know I’m making this summer pregnancy work for me with round 2 on the way, and I’m enjoying the time outdoors as well as inside.