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Pregnant This Summer? Beat the Heat

Hot, humid -- and heavy with child. Pregnancy can make the summer seem hotter. But following a few simple guidelines can keep you cool.

WebMD Feature

It's hot, it's humid, and you're pregnant. True, that can be a recipe for misery, but there are ways to cope.

"I always have tremendous sympathy for women whose babies are due in the summer or early fall," says Debra Gilbert Rosenberg, LCSW, author of the recently released The New Mom's Companion: Care for Yourself While You Care for Your Newborn.

"Heat and humidity, while unpleasant for most people, take a greater toll on pregnant women."

'Heat Intolerance'

Adelaide Nardone, MD, an ob-gyn in Providence, Rhode Island, and medical advisor to the Vagisil Women's Health Center, explains that when you're pregnant your body temperature is already a bit higher than normal, so added heat from the outside temperature is bound to make you feel uncomfortable.

"Pregnant women already have some degree of heat intolerance," says Nardone, who advises moms-to-be to pay attention to the heat warnings. 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. A cool, damp washcloth applied to the back of your neck, your forehead, or the top of your head is also a good way to keep your body temperature down.

If you perspire heavily because of the heat, make sure you drink plenty of fluids, Nardone adds. Water's good, but so are orange juice, milk, and sports drinks, which replace electrolytes that are being sweated away.

She cautions that too much water can be as much of a problem as too little, leading to a condition called water intoxication. "Over-hydration with water can dilute your electrolytes even more, and can cause fatigued muscles, cramps, and in severe cases, unconsciousness," Nardone tells WebMD.

If you're thirsty, adds Rosenberg, you're already dehydrated, so make sure you drink throughout the day.

Keep Cool

Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, has these tips:

  • Swim. Not only does swimming cool you off, it helps to take some of the weight off your sciatic nerve. (Even ocean swimming is fine; just make sure the waves don't knock you down.)
  • Wear breathable fabrics so you won't sweat; this will keep you cooler and help prevent heat rash that can develop under your breasts and abdomen, a common problem for pregnant women.
  • Carry a water-filled squirt bottle so that you can mist yourself when you start to feel warm.
  • Exercise at the cooler times of day and avoid exercising to the point overheating.

When it comes to exercising, says Nardone, always check with your health-care provider before starting, or continuing, an exercise regimen.

Breathing is also an important factor in keeping cool, Nardone adds. Breathing lets off heat, so make sure you have a good breathing pattern (some people breathe either too rapidly or too slowly), and if you're having a problem breathing because of allergies or asthma, for example, stay indoors.

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