Beat the Heat: 17 Useful Hacks for Surviving Summer Pregnancy

Pregnancy can joyous, but it can also be tiring to grow a baby, and it often much more difficult as the weather heats up. High temperatures and increased humidity can make anyone feel uncomfortable, but for pregnant women, the summer heat can intensify common pregnancy discomforts such as swelling and dehydration. However, with the right strategies and adjustments, you can beat the heat and enjoy a more comfortable pregnancy even during the hottest days. Here are 17 tips to make pregnancy manageable in warmer months.

Stay Hydrated

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Staying hydrated is crucial during pregnancy, but it becomes even more important during the warmer months. Your body needs extra fluids during pregnancy, and the heat can lead to increased sweating, which in turn can increase your risk of dehydration. Drinking plenty of water helps maintain balance in your body fluids, facilitate digestion, transport nutrients, and regulate your body temperature. If you are currently pregnant, you should aim to drink at least eight to twelve glasses of water a day, and even more if  you are active or if it’s a particularly hot day. Carry a reusable water bottle to conveniently keep your water intake in line. Tired of drinking plain old water? Try adding a slice of lemon or cucumber to charge up the flavor so you can drink more water.

Wear Loose Clothing

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Pregnant women get hot so easily, as our body temperatures are higher than normal. To combat this during the warmer weather, wear loose, breathable clothing. Fabrics like cotton, linen, and bamboo are good choices as they allow air to circulate and also absorb sweat. Avoid wearing tight clothing, as they can restrict blood flow and may lead to overheating or discomfort, especially around the waist. Opt for light-colored clothes as they reflect the sun’s rays better than dark colors, which absorb heat. Dresses, tunics, and loose-fitting tops paired with skirts or maternity shorts can be stylish while providing the comfort needed during pregnancy.

Avoid Peak Sun Hours

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The sun is at its strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so it’s best to schedule outdoor activities outside of these hours to avoid the risk of overheating and sunburn. If you need to be outside during these times, seek shade whenever possible, and don’t forget your wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen with a high SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Sun exposure can lead to overheating, which is not only uncomfortable but can also be dangerous during pregnancy, potentially leading to conditions like heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Pregnant women are also more prone to developing melasma, and by limiting sun exposure, you can avoid the onset or worsening of this condition. When you do go outside, take frequent breaks in the shade, wear protective clothing and a hat, and reapply sunscreen every two hours – or more often if you’re swimming or sweating.

Stay in the Shade

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When spending time outdoors, staying in the shade can provide a significant reprieve from the heat. Direct sunlight not only increases your risk of sunburn but also contributes to higher body temperatures. Use umbrellas, or take advantage of canopies and shaded areas in parks and outdoor spaces to protect yourself from the sun’s intense rays. When planning outdoor activities, try to choose locations that offer plenty of shaded options.

Apply Sunscreen

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Sunscreen is an essential item for everyone, but it’s especially important for pregnant women who may have more sensitive skin due to hormonal changes. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed skin, and reapply every two hours, or more often if you’re swimming or sweating. Choose a sunscreen that is free from oxybenzone, a chemical that can disrupt hormones, and instead look for mineral-based options containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients are generally considered safe for pregnant women and provide effective protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen helps prevent sunburn, which can be more painful and take longer to heal during pregnancy, and also protects against long-term skin damage.

Use a Cooling Spray

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A cooling spray can be a quick and effective way to lower your body temperature and feel refreshed on hot days. These sprays often contain ingredients like aloe vera, peppermint, or cucumber, which have natural cooling properties. You can purchase a pre-made cooling spray or make your own by mixing water with a few drops of essential oils and storing it in the refrigerator. When you’re feeling overheated, a light mist over your face and neck can provide immediate relief. It’s a convenient solution that you can carry in your purse and use anytime you need to cool down.

Take Cool Showers

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Taking cool showers can help lower your body temperature and provide relief from the heat. Unlike hot showers, which can exacerbate the swelling that many pregnant women are accustomed to, cool showers can be invigorating and can also reduce inflammation. They also have the added benefit of improving circulation, which is important as pregnancy progresses and circulation becomes sluggish. After your shower, pat your skin gently to dry off, and apply a light, unscented moisturizer to damp skin to help lock in moisture without feeling too heavy or greasy.

Rest Frequently

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Pregnant women get tired more easily, and heat can make fatigue worse. To mitigate this, listen to your body and rest frequently, especially during the warmer months. Make sure to take breaks throughout the day to sit or lie down, elevating your feet if possible to reduce swelling. Overexertion can lead to overheating, which can be dangerous for both the mother and the developing baby. Create a comfortable, cool space in your home where you can relax, and if you’re at work, find a quiet spot where you can take short breaks to recharge.

Swim for Exercise

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Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for pregnant women, especially during warmer weather. It’s low-impact, supports your joints, and the buoyancy of the water can provide relief from the extra weight you’re carrying. Water also has a natural cooling effect, helping to regulate your body temperature and prevent overheating. Swimming can also improve cardiovascular health, and increase muscle tone and strength. However, as always, check with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine during pregnancy, and stick to mild to moderate intensity to avoid overexertion.

Use Air Conditioning or Fans

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Keeping your living space cool is essential when you’re pregnant, especially during a heatwave. To avoid getting too hot during pregnancy, make sure you have an air conditioning unit handy before the peak of summer arrives. Nothing is worse than being heavily pregnant and looking for a portable air conditioning unit in stores only to find that they’re all sold out.

If you don’t have an air conditioning unit, make sure you have fans available so that you can keep yourself cool, and make sure you keep blinds or curtains closed during the day to reduce heat buildup inside your home.

Elevate Your Feet

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Swelling in the feet and ankles is a common issue for pregnant women, and it often gets worse in hot weather. Elevate your feet to reduce swelling by improving circulation and fluid retention. Whenever you’re sitting down, try to elevate your feet above the level of your heart. Use pillows, cushions, or a footrest to prop up your legs comfortably. This practice not only helps with swelling but can also alleviate discomfort and prevent varicose veins, which are more common during pregnancy. If you’re at work or somewhere you can’t lie down, try to take short breaks to elevate your feet periodically throughout the day.

Wear Breathable Footwear

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As mentioned before, swollen feet and ankles are common during pregnancy, particularly during the summer months. To help alleviate the discomfort of swollen feet, make sure you have breathable footwear that will keep your feet comfortable. Sandals or shoes with adjustable straps are ideal because they can be loosened if your feet begin to swell throughout the day. Proper support is also important to prevent foot pain and maintain balance as your center of gravity shifts during pregnancy. Look for footwear with good arch support and a cushioned sole to absorb impact as you walk.

Plan Indoor Activities

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During the warmer months, it’s a good idea to plan indoor activities to avoid the heat, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Museums, movie theaters, shopping malls, or community centers can provide entertainment and the comfort of air conditioning. Planning indoor activities can help you stay active and social while also protecting you and your baby from overheating.

Keep Hydrated with Fruits and Vegetables

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In addition to drinking plenty of water, consuming fruits and vegetables with high water content can be a tasty way to increase hydration. Foods like watermelon, cucumbers, strawberries, and lettuce are not only refreshing but also provide essential nutrients and fiber. These foods can help keep you cool and hydrated without making you feel overly full or bloated. Incorporating these hydrating foods into your diet can also aid in digestion and help prevent constipation, a common issue during pregnancy.

Use a Pregnancy Pillow for Sleep

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Getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging during pregnancy, and the added discomfort from heat can make it even more difficult. A pregnancy pillow can provide the support and comfort needed to find a relaxing sleeping position. These pillows are designed to accommodate the contours of a pregnant body, offering support to the belly, back, and knees. They can help reduce the strain on your hips and spine, and keep your body aligned, which can improve sleep quality. Choose a pillow with breathable fabric to prevent overheating during the night.

Monitor Physical Activity

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Staying active during pregnancy is important for your health and that of your baby, but it’s crucial to monitor your physical activity, especially in warm weather. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce pregnancy discomforts, and potentially make for an easier labor and delivery. However, during the warmer months, it’s best to avoid strenuous activity, especially if it involves going outdoors during peak heat hours. Opt for gentler forms of exercise like walking, prenatal yoga, or swimming, and try to exercise during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or evening. Always listen to your body, and if you feel dizzy, short of breath, or overheated, take a break and hydrate.

Stay Informed About Heat Advisories

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During pregnancy, it’s particularly important to stay informed about weather conditions, especially heat advisories or warnings. Extreme heat can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which can be dangerous for both mom and baby. If a heat advisory is issued, it’s best to stay indoors where it’s cool, limit physical activity, and stay hydrated. If you need to go outside, wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, and protect yourself from the sun.

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