Summer Tips for Pregnant Women
As the days heat up, we welcome summer and all that comes with it—pool days, warm nights, and summer pregnancies.
In Cincinnati, the hot summer months of June, July, and August can be uncomfortable for many, as the average temperature floats around 86 °F. And for pregnant women, the discomfort of hot days can even be dangerous.
If you’ve ever experienced a heatwave or a long day out in the sun, you know that heatstroke, overheating, and dehydration are real problems for everyone. But OB/GYNs know that the scorching summer heat puts many pregnant women in the hospital with preterm contractions.
Luckily, our experienced Cincinnati OB/GYNS have some helpful tips for pregnant women to reduce anxiety, discomfort, dehydration, and health complications.
- Stay out of the sun. Direct sunlight is taxing on your body. Sunburn and excessive heat put you at risk of dehydration and more. But staying out of the sun doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go outside. Try to do your outdoor activities early in the morning before the heat sets in or during cooler evenings. And when you must be out during the peak of the day, seek out shade as much as possible.
- Drink more water. For non-pregnant people in normal conditions, 64 ounces of water a day is recommended. That number jumps to 80-100 ounces for pregnant individuals, and if you’re exercising or in the heat, the amount of water you need to drink could double. Focus on drinking more low-sugar fluids with electrolytes and carry water with you at all times.
- Protect your skin. Whenever you go outside, apply at least 30 SPF sunscreen on your face and shoulders. If you sweat or swim, don’t forget to reapply. Sunburn is more than just uncomfortable—it dehydrates your skin and wears down your body.
- Wear the right clothes. When you’re pregnant and out in the heat, what you wear has a massive impact on how you feel. Aim for loose, breathable clothing that covers your skin. Keep your hat and sunglasses near the door to take with you whenever you go out.
- Be mindful of your physical activity. Exercising in the heat is a common cause of problems for many people, including pregnant women. So, be smart about it. Choose the best kinds of exercise for your body, like swimming or walking indoors.
- Eat nutrient-packed foods. In the summer, it’s normal for appetites to decrease, but eating enough foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for your and your baby’s health. Try to eat more protein-packed foods like avocados, chickpeas, and poultry. You can also add protein powder to smoothies. Snacking on homemade fruit pops or drinking smoothies is another easy way to get more nutrients into your diet.
- Be careful to avoid spoiled foods. Some foods spoil quickly in the summer heat (like meat, eggs, and mayonnaise), so leaving food out at a barbecue can actually be hazardous to your health. It’s best to avoid eating foods like potato salad or coleslaw, especially when you don’t know how well it’s been stored.
- Put your feet up. Sit back and relax—seriously. Elevating your feet can relieve the discomfort from swelling that pregnancy brings. You want them to rest higher than your heart, if possible. If you struggle with swollen limbs, consider hydrotherapy. Submerging your abdomen in cool water for 20 minutes can provide additional relief.
- Recognize the signs of health complications. Pregnant women often struggle with their bodies more than the average person, and that doesn’t change in the summer. As heat exhaustion and dehydration become more common in the hot summer sun, it’s important to know when to contact your OB/GYN or physician.
Here are some conditions and symptoms to watch out for:
- Preeclampsia (swelling, headaches, visuals changes, and abdominal pain)
- Dehydration (dark urine, decreased urination and sweat, nausea, and dizziness)
- Severe constipation and stomach cramps (which could be a sign of dehydration)
10. Ask for help when you need it. The heat can take a toll on your body both physically and mentally. Asking for help can prevent a total emotional meltdown and keep you and your baby safe. Whether you need someone to help you carry grocery bags, babysit your kids, or figure out a problem, knowing when to ask for help is an important tool during pregnancy.