Staying comfortable during a summer pregnancy

Aug 30, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Pregnancy during any time of the year can certainly have its uncomfortable moments, but add in the summer heat and humidity and that uncomfortable feeling can rise as quickly as the temperature does.

Contributed by OB-GYN Dr. Winifred L. Soufi

Interestingly enough, July, August and September are the most common months for a woman in the United States to give birth. So if you’re one of the millions of women that will be pregnant during the hottest months of the year, read on — Winifred L. Soufi, M.D., Ph.D. FACOG, board certified obstetrician and gynecologist, provides tips to make it more comfortable.

Stay hydrated

Women should drink plenty of fluids. Nearly three-fourths of your body weight is water. It is lost through sweat, urine and even breathing. So as a result, when the weather gets warmer, women may need to drink even more than the recommended six to eight glasses of liquids each day. Drink water throughout the day — don't wait until you are thirsty. Other liquids such as milk, fruit juice and vegetable juice can substitute for some of the water you need each day. Often, dehydration can put pregnant women at risk for having contractions or premature labor.

Protect you skin

Keep dry

In addition to the summer heat, your body temperature is naturally higher during pregnancy. This can cause you to glisten slightly more than normal. Applying baby powder around your abdomen can prevent irritation or developing a heat rash.

Skin protection is key to preventing chloasma, a.k.a. “pregnancy mask,” from worsening. More common in darker pigmented women, the condition is completely normal and most commonly resolves after pregnancy. But to help prevent it from worsening, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat with a brim and using sunblock. Also, limit the time you spend in the sun, especially from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. These marks will typically fade after delivery when hormone levels return to normal.

Wear comfortable clothes

Light-colored clothing and fabrics such as linen or cotton can make a world of difference if pregnant during the summer. Also, while flip flops may seem like comfortable shoes, they don’t provide enough support. Wear supportive sandals or shoes to help reduce leg swelling and prevent falls.

Go for a swim

Swimming or simply spending time in the pool during pregnancy has multiple benefits. It can cool you down and take weight off of your sciatic nerve. If swimming isn’t your thing, “jogging” in the water is a cool and easy way to get some beneficial exercise.

Prepare for the baby

For those extra hot days, stay cool indoors and use this time to get ready for the new baby by taking educational classes such as for breastfeeding, Lamaze, baby essentials and infant CPR. In addition, tour the hospital and choose a pediatrician. It is also important to research questions to ask your doctor from choosing your delivery method, choosing your pain management for labor, and investigating the possibility of cord blood banking*, the collection and storage of the stem cells found in your newborn's umbilical cord that have been used successfully in the treatment of nearly 80 diseases. Take advantage of this time to learn what options are best for your new family.

Remember, while it can be difficult and uncomfortable at times, pregnancy is brief. Relaxing and staying cool and healthy is your priority during a summer pregnancy.

* Although the potential use of umbilical cord blood is expanding rapidly, the odds that a family member without a defined risk will need to use their child's umbilical cord blood are low. There is no guarantee that the umbilical cord blood will be a match for a family member or will provide a cure. Autologous cord blood stem cells will not guarantee suitable treatment for all inherited genetic diseases. As with any transplant therapy, therapeutic success depends upon many factors beyond the stem cells themselves including patient condition, type of disease, recipient-donor relationship and matching, and other factors. The use of cord blood stem cells for emerging treatments is experimental.

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