Beat the Heat When You're Expecting
Sweating for Two
Whoever first rhapsodized about that glow pregnant women get must have been a man. If he'd asked a woman about it, she'd have given it to him straight: that's sweat, buster, and lots of it. And with mid-April's sudden temperature surge from springlike to sizzling in many parts of the country, expectant mothers got an unwelcome preview of what high summer and the second trimester will feel like. How can you beat the heat when you're sweating for two?
"When you have a child generating heat inside of you and your body chemistry is all skewed from pregnancy, you feel hot all the time, anyway," says Rachel Silber, a certified doula and mother of two who practices in the Washington metropolitan area. Silber's son, Zachary, was born in late June of a particularly stifling Washington summer. "It was very miserable toward the end. I was so glad he wasn't an August baby because I think I would have died," she recalls. "The worst part was just feeling so sweaty. I'd come home from work and I'd be drenched in sweat."
And it's not just uncomfortable for you; getting overheated in the sweltering summer months can be bad for baby as well. It's easy to become dehydrated when you're pregnant. Overheating and dehydration can lead to several dangerous reactions, says Samantha Buery-Joyner, MD, an ob-gyn in private practice in northern Virginia:
"The baby is very sensitive to changes in maternal blood pressure," Buery-Joyner says. "When it drops, there's less blood supply to the uterus, the placenta, and of course to the baby." Studies have also shown the heat of Jacuzzis and saunas during pregnancy to be linked to neural tube defects (when the brain and spinal cord don't form properly), she notes, which may indicate that overheating in general could pose similar concerns.
Start your hot-weather pregnancy makeover by reevaluating your wardrobe. Yes, those black or navy stretchy spandex pants may be slimming and handily expand with your waistline, but they're also heat magnets. "One of the problems with maternity clothes is that a lot of them have spandex or other fabrics to make them stretchy so they expand with your body, but they're hot because they don't breathe," Silber says. "I advise women to choose maternity clothes that have as little spandex or nylon and as much natural fiber as possible. CoolMax and other fabrics that wick moisture away from your body are good, too, but they don't always come in maternity sizes." Instead of black and navy -- guaranteed to bake in the sun's rays -- choose lighter pastels and earth tones.