Pregnancy is extremely fascinating, but it can be quite confusing and uncomfortable. Creating a human is an amazing thing, but that process can lead to being nauseated, swollen and tired. With a summer pregnancy, you have the heat to deal with, too.
Not only is it hotter outside, but your internal body temperature also rises because of the hormone progesterone. When you’re not pregnant, progesterone helps regulate your menstrual cycle. After you become pregnant, your body is flooded with progesterone, causing tons of changes—one being an increase in body temperature.
The most important piece of advice is to be sure you drink lots of water every day.
Pregnant women need 50 percent more water—about 12 eight-ounce glasses a day—no matter the temperature outside. Drinking water not only lowers your core body temperature, but it also helps reduce nausea.
Dr. Grayson offered these suggestions for staying hydrated:
- Place a bottle of water next to your bed. When you wake up during the night, you’ll be reminded to drink. This will keep you hydrated through the night and can reduce morning sickness.
- Set an alarm on your phone for every 4 hours during the day to keep your water intake on track. Do your best to sip on water throughout those 4 hours.
- Span out your water intake rather than drinking a lot at once.
Avoid Heat Exposure
You’ve maybe been told not to take hot showers during the 9 months of pregnancy, and there is some truth to it.
“You won’t want to take an extra long, hot shower,” said Dr. Grayson. “But a brief, warm shower is perfectly safe when pregnant.”
However, taking a hot bath, a dip in a Jacuzzi or doing hot yoga—anything that emerges you in hot air or hot water—are no-nos for the entirety of your pregnancy.
Some other things to be wary of are heated car seats, heating pads and other similar items. When used for long enough these can cause harm to the baby, especially during your first trimester when the baby’s organs are forming.
Use Sun Protection
Sun protection is important whether or not you’re pregnant, but in addition to standard sunscreen and avoiding peak sun hours, Dr. Grayson also recommends wearing loose clothing. Loose clothing allows air to circulate and helps keep your body temperature down.
Be Safe When Exercising
Plan to increase your water intake by 16 ounces every hour or so during exercise—same goes for if you’re spending time outdoors in the heat.
“Since activity level and temperature affect hydration, you’ll need to increase your water intake when you exercise and when you’re in moderate to high temperatures,” Dr. Grayson advised.
Consider doing laps or shorter distances when biking, walking or hiking. This way if you start to get hot, you can end the activity quickly and be close to home or your car.
Dr. Grayson had this additional tip for staying active and cool: Get in the pool!
“A pool is a pregnant woman’s best friend,” he said. You can be outside in the heat while staying comfortable—do water aerobics, resistance exercises or just float.
Another perk of the pool: You can reduce swelling in your ankles by standing in a pool for about 20 minutes.
Signs of Overheating and What to Do
If you notice that you’ve stopped sweating despite being hot or are feeling light headed or dizzy, these are signs of overheating.
Be sure to cool down as quickly as possible by:
- Going indoors
- Placing a damp cloth on your skin
- Drinking water
“Signs of overheating can happen very quickly,” said Dr. Grayson. “You can have no symptoms and then have many all of the sudden, so it’s best to avoid situations where you could overheat.”
Get more tips for a healthy pregnancy on our website.
This post has been updated. It was originally published on June 5, 2017.