Summer pregnancy: Stay cool and healthy with these tips

Pregnant during summer? The heat may affect you and cause discomfort. Stay cool and enjoy summer pregnancy with these tips.
Summer pregnancy rules you should follow. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Updated: 7 May 2024, 04:33 pm IST
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Heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke can affect anybody when the temperature soars. But summer can have specific effects on pregnant women due to the increased temperatures and higher levels of humidity. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day, wearing loose, light-coloured, and breathable clothes, avoiding prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and staying indoors during peak heat hours are a few summer pregnancy tips all expecting moms should follow. They also need to avoid certain mistakes when they are pregnant during summer.

How does summer affect pregnancy?

An association was found between heat exposure during pregnancy and higher risk of severe maternal morbidity during a 2023 study published in the JAMA Network Open journal.

Heat can affect pregnant women. Image courtesy: Freepik

Here is how summer can affect pregnancy:

1. First trimester (weeks 1 to 12)

During the first trimester, the body’s ability to regulate temperature may be altered due to hormonal changes, says gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Vinatha Puli. Pregnant women are often more susceptible to heat intolerance, nausea, and fatigue, which can be exacerbated by hot weather. Dehydration can become a concern, as pregnant women require more fluids, especially in warm weather.

2. Second trimester (weeks 13 to 26)

This is often considered the most comfortable trimester for many women, as morning sickness usually subsides, and energy levels go up. However, increased body weight and blood volume can make pregnant women more prone to feeling hot and sweaty in summer weather. Swelling in the extremities can be more pronounced due to fluid retention, which can be uncomfortable in the heat.

3. Third trimester (week 27 to birth)

In late pregnancy, especially during the third trimester, women may feel increasingly uncomfortable in the heat. The body’s natural insulation increases due to weight gain and hormonal changes, making pregnant women more susceptible to overheating. Swelling, particularly in the feet and ankles, can worsen when it gets hot. There is an increased risk of dehydration and heat exhaustion due to the body working harder to cool down. Heat-related stress can induce early labour in some cases, says the expert.

What are the dos and don’ts during summer pregnancy?

Here are dos and don’ts to help manage and optimise comfort and safety during a summer pregnancy:

How to survive summer while pregnant?

1. Stay hydrated

Irrespective of the season, drinking water throughout the day is a must. To prevent dehydration, have at least 8 to 10 glasses of water every day. Avoid being dehydrated, as it can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and other complications.

2. Wear sunscreen

Protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays by applying sunscreen with a high SPF (at least 30) while going outside. Pregnancy can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, increasing the risk of sunburn and skin damage, says Dr Puli.

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3. Stay cool

Avoid overheating by staying in cool, air-conditioned rooms whenever possible. Use fans or portable air coolers to maintain a comfortable temperature at home. Take cool showers or baths to lower your body temperature if needed.

4. Wear loose and breathable clothes

Opt for lightweight, loose-fitting clothes made from summer-friendly fabrics like cotton or linen. This will help in maintaining airflow around your body and prevent excessive sweating.

5. Take breaks and rest

Listen to your body and take frequent breaks to rest, especially if you feel tired or overheated. Avoid overexertion and strenuous physical activities when it is really hot.

What to avoid for a healthy pregnancy in summer

1. Don’t overexert yourself

Limit outdoor activities during peak heat hours (typically from late morning to early evening) to avoid overexertion. If you need to be outdoors, schedule activities during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening.

2. Don’t skip meals

Eat regular, balanced meals to maintain energy levels and support your growing baby. Avoid skipping meals, as this can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels and increase the risk of heat-related complications, says the expert. In fact, there is a summer pregnancy diet you should follow.

Drink fresh juices for a healthy summer pregnancy. Image courtesy: Freepik

3. Limit caffeine and sugary drinks

If you love caffeine, reduce its intake, as it can contribute to dehydration. So, instead of having three or four cups of coffee or tea, have water, herbal teas, or natural fruit juices, suggests the expert.

4. Avoid tight clothes

Tight clothes can restrict airflow and increase discomfort, especially in hot weather. Avoid wearing tight waistbands or clothes that constrict your abdomen.

5. Don’t ignore warning signs

Be aware of warning signs of heat-related illnesses, such as dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, or excessive sweating. Check with your doctor if you experience any concerning symptoms.

How much sun exposure should pregnant women get?

Sun exposure during pregnancy is important for obtaining vitamin D, which is crucial for the development of the baby’s bones and overall health. However, it is essential to balance sun exposure with the risk of skin damage and overheating, especially during hot summer months. Pregnant women should aim for moderate sun exposure to ensure adequate vitamin D levels. Generally, exposing arms, legs, and face to sunlight for about 10 to 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week, is often sufficient for most women to maintain adequate vitamin D levels, says the expert. But avoid prolonged sun exposure during peak hours (10 am to 4 pm) when UV rays are strongest and can cause sunburn and skin damage.

Too much heat can be uncomfortable, but you can enjoy summer pregnancy by staying hydrated, using fans, wearing summer-friendly fabrics and applying sunscreen.

Natalia Ningthoujam

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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