Being pregnant over summer comes with some added challenges including trying to stay cool, increased swelling, increased sunburn, increased fatigue and the increased discomfort that comes with all of those. But it’s not all bad, summer and the holiday season can be a fun and enjoyable time with family and friends. Taking simple steps to help you reduce discomforts will mean that you can enjoy yourself too.
Trying to stay cool in summer
When you are pregnant, you have an increase in blood volume which means that the blood vessels dilate (open) more than they would when you are not pregnant. This brings the blood closer to the skin and leads to an increase in heat for the mum. Therefore, you don’t only feel warmer, but you also have an increased risk of dehydration and overheating.
Tips for staying cool include:
- Going out in the morning rather than the hottest part of the day
- Dress in layers so that as it heats up you can remove layers
- Try not to exercise in the heat
- Carry a bottle of water with you and sip on it throughout the day
- Try not to be in the direct sun, if you are outside try staying in the shade
Swelling during pregnancy
The increase in blood volume, means there is also an increase in fluid. When it is hot, your already dilated blood vessels dilate further and with gravity the additional fluid drops down to your feet and legs. This can not only be uncomfortable, but it can also cause a painful throbbing feeling in your legs.
Tips for managing swelling in summer:
- Stay indoors in the hottest part of the day
- Elevate your feet and legs before and after going outside in the heat
- Rest as well as moving around regularly
- Stay hydrated
- Wear compression socks or tights to help support the veins in your legs to move the fluid
- Reduce the amount of salt in your diet
Increased sunburn in pregnancy
During pregnancy, the hormonal changes make your skin more sensitive to the suns UV rays and therefore you are more susceptible to sunburn. Furthermore, when the skin is exposed to UV rays, folic acid breaks down. Folic acid is an essential vitamin for ensuring healthy growth for your baby and one that you definitely don’t want breaking down and being excreted from the body.
Tips for reducing sunburn in pregnancy:
- Make sure that every time you leave the house you are wearing a pregnancy safe sunscreen. This is especially important if it looks cloudy outside as the UV rays may still be out in full force even though you don’t feel the heat as such.
- Wear a hat and protective, yet breathable clothing. It is important to balance not overheating with covering up, so you don’t get burnt. Wear one piece swimmers to cover your bump and reduce the risk of getting sunburnt.
- Try to stay in the shade when you are outside
- Make sure you stay hydrated
Increased fatigue in pregnancy
The hormones of pregnancy along with the hard work your body is putting in to grow your baby mean that you are already more tired during your pregnancy. Throw in summer heat and some days you feel too exhausted to leave your bed. This is due to your body having to work even harder to cool your body down when it is hot. If you haven’t had enough water, your body will not be able to cool itself down by sweating which can make exhaustion worse.
Tips for heat fatigue in pregnancy:
- Increase oral fluid intake
- Make sure you stay in the shade when you are outdoors
- If you are at work, make sure you are in cool environment or have regular breaks to go into the shade to cool down
- Have a swim in the pool, ocean or have a cool bath to reduce your body temperature
Following these tips for staying cool during pregnancy can help you enjoy the warmer weather and the festive season with your family and friends. Remember, if you are ever concerned about your baby or that you may have heatstroke it is important to contact your healthcare provider.