While pregnancy in the summer can have its fair share of benefits, including fun, airy maxi dresses and delicious snacks of fresh fruit, the season can also cause its fair share of negatives. Pregnancy during summer can be an uncomfortable affair, as many pregnant women experience a spike in their body temperature during their pregnancy. Staying cool in the summer can be an important task to prepare for in advance.
Why Does a Woman’s Body Temperature Spike During Pregnancy?
While not every woman experiences a spike in body temperature during pregnancy, it is very common. Pregnant women have an increased amount of blood in their bodies that can cause them to feel warmer than they regularly might. In addition, hormonal changes and warmth generated by the baby can lead to an uncomfortable radiation of heat and hot flashes. While some of these symptoms are unavoidable there are many things you can do to stay cool during the toasty summer months.
It should come as no surprise that staying hydrated is at the top of the list for staying cool during your pregnancy. Traveling with a reusable water bottle is an easy solution to make sure you’re drinking 8-12 cups of water a day. If you’re prone to forgetting, consider adding a reminder on your cell phone to stay on track. If you’re out in the hot sun, sweating will lead to dehydration much faster. Replenishing the electrolytes you lose while sweating is important in staying hydrated and avoiding any dizzy spells. Many foods can also help with hydration and electrolytes, including pickles, cucumbers, bananas and spinach.
Exercise in the Water
Being active and exercising during your pregnancy is important. When going for a walk may not seem optimal on hot days, consider finding a pool or body of water to swim in. Since exercising in hot temperatures can increase your risk of overheating, exercising in a body of water can assist in maintaining a prime body temperature. Not only does swimming provide a gentle all-body exercise, but some women have reported relief in ankle and foot swelling while submerged in water. Additionally, swimming eases sciatic pain - sciatic pain being irritation in your sciatic nerve which starts in the lower spine and ends in the thigh - and maintains muscle tone which can improve your delivery process.
Wear Loose Clothing
When venturing out of the house in hot weather or planning activities in the sun, make sure to wear loose, lightweight clothing. Cotton and linen fabrics will remain breathable while moving. Try to avoid restrictive clothing such as tight-fitting shirts, legging, and dressings. Since black tends to absorb heat, try avoiding clothing in the color altogether and when in doubt spring for a flowy summer dress.
Add More Cold Food to Your Diet and Avoid Hot Foods
Pregnancy is a great excuse to eat what you want and frozen treats are no exception. Blending some yogurt and frozen berries together can not only cool down your internal temperature, but tastes good and provides your body with calcium, vitamins and fiber. For those avoiding dairy, consider freezing some grapes to have an easy frozen snack on hand.
While adding more frozen foods to your diet, you should also consider staying away from spicy and hot foods in the summer. Staying away from the hot stuff can both keep your internal temperature down while not upsetting your stomach as much. Since the body creates more heat when consuming warm food and beverages, opt for the salad instead of the soup and iced tea instead of warm tea. If your pregnancy cravings lead you to spicy foods, consider small doses instead of heating up the entire meal. A couple of drops of tabasco can go a long way.
Create a Cool Place to Sleep
Getting a good night’s rest is important during every stage of your pregnancy. Whether you're building good sleep habits in your first trimester or sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs through the second or third trimester, the uncomfortable stiffness of summer heat should have no place in the bedroom. When preparing for bed it may be beneficial to completely remove the duvet or comforter you usually sleep with. Oftentimes a single sheet can provide enough cover to last you through the night.
If you and your partner share a bed and the natural body heat becomes unbearable it may be better to sleep in separate places during the hottest nights of the season. Body temperature can affect the quality of sleep you get. People usually sleep better when their skin is cool. Just as you would during the summer days, opt for linen, cotton, or silk pajamas that fit loosely when heading to bed. You may also consider investing in moisture-wicking sheets for additional support.
Besides the bed and your pajamas, make sure the bedroom is equipped to manage the heat. If your room doesn’t have a ceiling fan, think about purchasing a floor or table fan to point at the bed during the night. Blackout curtains to curtail the morning sunlight can also be useful.
Dr. J. Anthony Heit, MD is one of the founding physicians at Kansas City ObGyn. Dr. Heit is well-known for his careful and thorough approach to medicine, and is proud of the low complication rates he has achieved. Originally from Topeka, Dr. Heit is a family man and is happily married and has four children.