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Health & Pregnancy

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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.

Keep Cool continued...

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.

Hyun-Joo Lee, MD, an ob-gyn at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, has her own suggestions for keeping your cool while pregnant:

  • Avoid direct mid-day sun, because pregnant women are more prone to sunburn than non-pregnant women.
  • Drink one eight-ounce glass of water or electrolyte replacement liquid for each hour you are outdoors in hot weather.
  • Avoid vigorous outdoor activities during the hot hours of the day.
  • Use a high SPF sunscreen. If you have fair skin, use SPF 30 or 45. (Increased melanin production can lead to the "mask of pregnancy," so make sure your time in the sun is limited and don't head out without sunscreen or, better yet, sunblock.)
  • Get indoors at the first sign of weakness, fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, or excessive thirst. Lie down and drink some cool water or electrolyte replacement liquid. If you don't feel better soon, call your doctor.

Another common problem in summer pregnancies is leg swelling -- called physiologic edema, Lee tells WebMD. "If the second half of pregnancy occurs during the summer months, the degree of leg swelling can increase dramatically."

Lee offers a list of dos and don'ts for women who experience leg swelling while pregnant:


  1. Lie down for 30 to 60 minutes a day, either at the end of the workday or during lunch.
  2. Keep your legs elevated while sleeping by placing a rolled-up towel or blanket under your mattress at the foot of the bed.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes and, if possible, wear one pair of shoes that are a half size larger than your normal size.
  4. Walk two to three times a week during times other than mid-day heat.
  5. Remove your rings if they seem to be tight. Some pregnant women experience mild swelling of the hands and have to get their rings cut off.

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