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Summer Pregnancy Survival Guide

pregnant mom in tank top sitting cross legged with belly showing

First-time mom-to-be Deanna Moran found the New York humidity to be uncomfortable and overwhelming during her summer pregnancy. "You are always hot and no matter how high the air conditioning is turned up it just is never good enough," she said.

Like the over 1 million expectant moms last summer, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, Moran found that being pregnant during the hot and sticky days (and nights) of summer had its downsides. But Dr. Sara DuMond, a mom and pediatrician in South Carolina, says that there's a definite plus to carrying during this time. "Delivering in a warm weather month means that both mom and baby will be able to get fresh air, which can be vitally important," DuMond says.

With a little preparation and these simple tips, you'll be able to keep your cool -- and enjoy! -- your summer pregnancy.

Tips for a Cool & Healthy Summer

Does just thinking about venturing outside in the summer heat make you wilt? Don't let rising temperatures stop you from enjoying yourself. Follow these tips on how to stay cool and healthy.

  • Do outdoor tasks in the morning or evening when the sun is lower and temperatures are cooler.
  • When temperatures exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, stay indoors in the shade near a fan or air conditioner.
  • Wear light-colored clothing.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to remain hydrated. Sports drinks with electrolytes can help replace lost salt and retain fluid.
  • Sip a cold "mocktail," like this Pina Colada Smoothie: Combine 6 ounces frozen coconut yogurt, 1/2 a frozen banana, 1/2 of a 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple, and 1 cup milk; blend until smooth.
  • Carry a spray bottle of water with you at all times.
  • Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher 20 minutes before going into sun. Reapply throughout the day.
  • Take quick showers frequently to keep cool.
  • Put feet up to alleviate swelling.
  • Minimize salt intake, which will combat water retention.
  • Take frequent naps.
  • Ask for help if you're too tired to cook, clean, or run errands.
  • Beware of typical barbecue foods, such as potato salad and coleslaw that, when left out in the sun, can sour and cause stomach upset.
  • Clear your calendar. If it doesn't absolutely need to be done now, or by you, don't do it.

During a summer pregnancy, women need to be vigilant about skincare as their delicate skin is more susceptible to sun damage.

Dark Spots and Patches

When you are pregnant, melanin -- responsible for brownish colored patches on women's forehead, cheeks, upper chest, and above the upper lip -- responds to hormonal changes. This change occurs primarily among brunettes and darker-skinned women.

Prevent this from developing by keeping your face and upper chest away from tanning lamps and excessive sunlight.

Protect your skin by applying sunscreen multiple times a day, and wearing hats, especially those with wide brims that cover your face and neck.

Dry, Itchy Skin

Stretched skin caused by pregnancy weight gain is already dry, and summer heat and sun may sap your skin of needed moisture.

Prevent itchiness by using moisturizing shower products and applying lotions immediately following a shower or bath.

Protect and soothe the itch by soaking in a warm bath with oatmeal. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe an over-the-counter anti-itch cream.

Heat Rash

Miliaria, or prickly heat rash, can be caused by both heat and sweat. It typically occurs where two skin surfaces have touched or rubbed, such as beneath your breasts.

Prevent the rash by patting the area between skin folds dry immediately following a bath or shower. Also wear lighter fabrics, such as cotton that will not cling to your body.

Protect the rash if it begins to cause pain or discomfort, by asking your doctor about prescribing a medicated lotion or powder.

Bryana Gibson, another first-time mom who experienced a summer pregnancy, discovered that summer pregnancies bring more clothing options that, for some, are stylish and affordable. She adds, "All of the maternity clothes are fairly cheap in relation to winter maternity wear." Old Navy and Target have dedicated maternity lines that are both affordable and stylish, with Target having called on renowned maternity fashion designer Liz Lange for styles.

Use these summer style tricks to your advantage.

  • Emphasize your new cleavage with empire-waisted tops.
  • Cool off your feet by sporting a cute, inexpensive pair of flip-flops.
  • Take advantage of the forgiving feel of flowing peasant skirts.
  • Drape your belly in lightweight fabrics like cotton, linen, and silk.
  • Experiment with different dress styles to see which looks and feels the best on your body: halter, strapless, shirtdress, and wrap.
  • Matte jersey tank dresses are great for a super humid day and can be dressed up or down depending on occasion.
  • Try to find clothing with stretch to accommodate that growing belly.
  • Experiment with monochromatic outfits, but add a punch of color with accessories with a handbag, shoes, or other accessories.
  • Show off your beautiful figure by sporting a one- or two-piece swimsuit, depending on your comfort level.
  • Don't forget the power of a great hoop earring!

Real Moms' Summer Pregnancy Solutions

Moran, who struggled with the humidity in her hometown of Levittown, New York, discovered that one way to relieve her discomfort was by frequenting the community swimming pool. She added, "The best aspect of being pregnant in summer is being able to swim and get some weight off the legs." Moran gave birth to her beautiful daughter, Gabriella, in October.

Gibson found the Houston heat was causing her to sweat excessively. To combat this, she searched for maternity clothes that would keep her cool. What she found, to her delight, were plenty of maternity fashion options that were cool, and fairly inexpensive. Gibson was most thrilled about not having to buy a winter maternity coat, which she said is "expensive and impractical." She also said, "For the first time in my life I wasn't embarrassed in a swimsuit." Gibson gave birth to her adorable son, Zac, in July.

Dr. DuMond notes that heat can exacerbate existing pregnancy concerns. "Dehydration can predispose women to preterm labor, and so pregnant women have to be extra careful in the summer months." But on the flip side, DuMond notes, "Many women actually appreciate a summer pregnancy, because they don't have to bundle up in lots of layers over an already-growing belly."

Originally published on AmericanBaby.com, May 2006.

This quiz is for entertainment and/or educational purposes only. All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professional, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.