Summer Health Considerations for Pregnant Women
The weather is heating up, and pregnant women are among the people most likely to become overheated or experience complications from the heat, such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. This can be a risk for you and your baby.
Here are some commonly asked questions and answers regarding pregnancy and hot weather so that you can enjoy your summer while staying safe and healthy.
I’m pregnant. Should I avoid going outdoors during hot weather?
It is true that pregnant women have a higher risk of becoming overheated and dehydrated, but that doesn't mean you have to avoid going outside altogether. What it does mean is you should prepare yourself and take appropriate precautions.
If you are going to be outside during hot weather, know your warning signs and listen to your body. Dehydration can cause an increase in Braxton Hicks contractions, or even dizzy spells and fainting. If you notice an increase in Braxton Hicks (a tightening in your belly), are sweating profusely, feeling faint or dizzy, or just feel uncomfortable, get out of the heat and cool yourself down.
Is it safe to exercise when it’s hot?
Exercising can be safe for pregnant women when precautions are taken. It’s extra important to stay well hydrated, wear loose-fitting clothing, and avoid high heat and humidity. Keep an eye on those heat indexes–if the heat index is 90 or above, you’re probably going to feel miserable trying to exercise in it. Choose cooler times of the day to be outside, and take it easy so you don’t overheat.
How can I stay cool and take appropriate precautions when I have to be out in the heat?
- Go for a swim! Not only does swimming cool you off, it also helps to take some of the weight and pressure off your back, joints, and sciatic nerve.
- Try to stay out of the direct sun. Stay in the shade, and don’t forget to wear sunscreen on all exposed skin.
- Wear light, breathable fabrics to keep you cooler and increase airflow around your body.
- Carry a water bottle to keep yourself hydrated.
- Exercise during cooler times of day (early morning or after the sun goes down) and avoid exercising to the point of overheating.
What should I do if I feel like I’m getting too hot?
If you feel like you’re overheating, you should take the same steps as nonpregnant people:
- move to a cooler place
- drink water slowly
- loosen your clothing and remove layers if possible
- sit in a bathtub of cool or lukewarm water
- Apply a cool, damp washcloth to the back of your neck or your forehead
If you experience vomiting, worsening symptoms, or symptoms that last longer than one hour, seek medical treatment immediately.
Your body temperature runs a bit higher than normal during pregnancy already, so the added heat from the summer weather can really make you feel uncomfortable. Be smart, take precautions, and listen to your body so you can enjoy your summer pregnancy.