Midwest humidity and heat is enough to overwhelm anyone—and especially pregnant women who can experience added discomfort when temperatures soar. From trying to stay cool, comfortable and hydrated to managing unique skincare issues, pregnant women need to be extra vigilant to stay healthy during the summer.
As a Certified Nurse Midwife, I counsel my expectant patients this time of year to take mindful steps to protect themselves and their skin and to keep their stress level low even when the thermometer is high.
Here are some tips to be your best—and enjoy your pregnancy— during the warm weather.
Pregnant women already have some degree of heat intolerance. If the heat index (meaning how hot the temperature feels because of the combination of heat and humidity) is in the 90s, that's a good day to be indoors as much as possible with the air conditioning turned on.
-Run errands or garden in the early morning or evening when the sun is less intense. Stay inside near a fan or air conditioner when temps exceed 90 °F.
-Move your exercise/walking program indoors to a gym or swimming pool.
-Wear light-colored clothing that reflects, rather than absorbs, the sun’s rays.
-Carry a small spray bottle with you in your car or purse and purchase a personal-sized fan to stay extra-cool.
-Take a quick shower if you find yourself hot and sticky.
-Apply a cool, damp washcloth to the back of your neck, your forehead or the top of your head to help keep your body temperature down.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid things like heat exhaustion.
-Drink water—but be careful not to drink too much water. Over-hydration can dilute your electrolytes even more and potentially cause fatigued muscles, cramps and in severe cases, unconsciousness.
-Avoid caffeinated beverages, energy drinks and juices.
PAMPER YOUR SKIN
During a summer pregnancy, women need to be vigilant about skincare as their delicate skin is more susceptible to sun damage.
-Help prevent dark spots/patches on your face and upper chest common during pregnancy by avoiding excessive sunlight (and I encourage my patients not to use tanning beds or lamps, period).
-Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher 20 minutes before going outside—reapply throughout the day if you’re in and out of the car or house.
-A pregnant woman’s stretched skin can become dry and itchy—add in summer heat and sun, and your much-needed moisture is sapped even more. Ensure your shower products are moisturizing and apply lotions immediately following a bath or shower.
-Heat rash can become a pregnant woman’s unwanted friend during hot weather—help avoid it by patting the area between skin folds dry following a shower, bath or swim. Choose lightweight fabrics like cotton or linen that don’t cling to your body.
REST—AND REST AGAIN
Fatigue is a common symptom that plagues some women throughout their pregnancy. If you’re one of those prone to fatigue, it’s most prevalent during the first trimester and tends to disappear during the second trimester, returning again during the third.
-Being pregnant can make you drowsy—being pregnant during warm weather can make you downright tired. Take naps when you feel the yawns coming on; even a short 20-minute power nap can leave you feeling refreshed.
-Edit your to-do list—delete the things that don’t need to be done immediately.
-Or, better yet, ask for help from family and friends.