Your Total Summer Pregnancy Guide

Great advice for keeping cool, healthy, and comfy all season long -- jumbo belly and all.

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    Show Some Skin -- and Your Shape

    The days of wearing tops that make you look like you're on an extended camping expedition -- hello, tent city! -- are, thankfully, over. These days, there's nothing more chic than flaunting your gorgeous, round belly in slim-fitting tanks, body-skimming tees, or sundresses, which will also help you to feel cool and glowy, not sweaty and roasting.

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    Drink Up, Baby

    Preggie gals need more fluids during the hot summer months, so be sure you're sipping water, water, water (at least six to eight glasses a day). We know you're already making a million trips to the loo these days as it is, but letting yourself get too parched can worsen pregnancy aches like swelling, and can even trigger contractions and up your risk for preterm labor. "By the time you actually feel thirsty, you're already well past the point of dehydration," says Kathy McManus, RD, director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "That's why it's important to drink water all day long." Not a fan of plain old H2O? Flavor it up by adding a slice of orange or a sprig of mint. Caffeine-free, herbal iced tea is another good pick. Or you can add a splash of pomegranate juice or peach nectar to a glass of seltzer. Munching on water-rich fruits and veggies -- like honeydew melon, cantaloupe, watermelon, and cucumber -- can also help keep you well hydrated.

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    Invest in Fab Sunglasses

    Even when you're feeling not-so-hot (morning sickness in 90-degree heat will do the trick every time), nothing instantly pulls you together like some scene-stealing Jackie Os. And while your favorite pre-preg jeans can only contain your growing bump for so long, a great pair of shades will be your go-to accessory throughout all nine months and beyond.

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    Get Out of Town

    Whether you want to jet off on a full-fledged tropical babymoon or just head out for a romantic long weekend away, go for it. Every couple could use one last uninterrupted, just-the-two-of-us fling. And when it's getting sticky and unbearable in your neck of the woods, a vacay to a breezy beach can be just the thing to beat the heat, relax, and let the pros pamper your pregnant self. To escape without worrying about something crazy happening -- what if my water breaks and we're in the middle of nowhere? -- follow this advice. "I always tell patients not to travel too far away," says Anthony R. Gregg, MD, director of the division of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia. "A couple of hours by car or plane is fine, but avoid going overseas or cross-country. That way, if you don't feel well, you'll be able to contact your doctor and get back more easily if you have to." It's also a good idea to pack any pregnancy-safe meds you may need, so you don't have to think about whether the hotel gift shop has the right antacid or pain reliever. For the record, it's perfectly safe for expectant mamas to fly up until 36 weeks (after which point many airlines won't even let you on board). "Just get up and walk around the plane -- or stretch your legs if you're stuck in your seat -- every half hour or so to help stave off swelling and the risk of developing blood clots in your legs," says Dr. Gregg.

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    Choose Safer Sandals

    Flip-flops seem like the ultimate, comfy knock-around pick for hot, achy feet, but in reality, they're just about the worst kind of kicks you can wear these days. "Many flip-flops don't offer any arch support, which you really need now," says Marlene Reid, DPM, a podiatrist who practices in Westmont, Illinois, and is a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association. "Pregnancy hormones cause your ligaments and tendons to stretch in preparation for childbirth -- including the ones in your feet -- and you're also carrying a lot more weight than usual. This adds extra pressure on the bottoms of your feet and can cause pain, swelling, flat feet, tendinitis, and even more serious, permanent damage if you don't wear the right shoes." This doesn't mean going a whole summer donning orthopedic footwear. Just look for sandals with some arch support (they'll be slightly raised and thicker in the middle). We love the comfy-stylish combo of brands like Rainbow ( and Reefs (

  • Plan Out Your Stroller Route

    Now that the weather's warm, take a peek at the parks and kids' stuff nearby. Map out a few different options for taking scenic strolls after baby arrives. Getting out of the house is a lifesaver for most new moms in those early newborn days -- and the rhythmic walking motion is often just the thing to lull even the fussiest babies to a soothing sleep. Check out the nabe now, and get some much-needed pregnancy exercise to boot.

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    Slather on the Sunscreen

    Sunscreen is always a must now that you're likely to be outside more -- but it's especially crucial when you're expecting. "The higher levels of estrogen in your body make you more susceptible to melasma, dark patches of skin that can appear on your face," says Elizabeth K. Hale, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at New York University and spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation. "Wearing sunscreen is the best way to avoid it, or prevent it from getting worse if you already have some discoloration." Be sure to rub on an SPF of at least 50 (since studies show most of us don't apply enough 15 or 30 to truly protect ourselves) every single day -- even if it's rainy or you plan to be behind your desk all day. "The UVA rays that trigger melasma can penetrate through clouds and windows," Dr. Hale explains.

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    Get a Haircut

    Some new moms find it's hard to manage a high-maintenance hairstyle after the baby arrives. Consider this steamy weather an opportunity to try out a cool summer 'do that you can maintain with minimal effort post-baby. Visit your stylist with photos, of course -- and don't always assume that super-short is easier (sometimes it can be more work than a longer mane).

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    Dunk the Bump

    "Swimming is a great way to cool off on a hot summer day -- and my patients find that the buoyancy of the water really helps relieve pregnancy-related back strain," says Dr. Gregg. It's also a perfect activity for moms-to-be who want to get a little exercise, and not just float around in the water. There's less risk of overheating and it's gentler on your already-overloaded joints than, say, jogging. Some OBs recommend keeping your heart rate below 140 beats per minute when you work out, but Dr. Gregg has a simpler take. "Every woman is different in terms of how much exercise she can handle, so as long as you have a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, don't worry too much about monitoring your heart rate," he says. "Instead, listen to your body. If you start to feel at all uncomfortable or out of breath, that's your sign to take things down a notch or stop."

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    Cue Up the Cravings

    Go ahead and dig into the occasional gooey, greasy cheeseburger at your friend's summer BBQ, that fully loaded ice cream sundae, or a fruity virgin cocktail at the beach. After all, you do need a few hundred extra calories each day, and these treats are among the great summer joys -- somehow, they just taste better this time of year. And it's not like anyone expects your belly to look flat in that new maternity bikini you just splurged on. So order up and enjoy!

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    Beat the Bloat

    Edema -- fluid retention that causes swelling, particularly in your hands, feet, and ankles -- can get worse in these scorching months, says Jennifer Niebyl, MD, professor and head of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. There's usually nothing dangerous about it, but it can make you feel a little -- ugh -- uncomfortably blimpish. To combat it, avoid excess sodium (ditch the salt shaker and processed, packaged foods, which are often high in sodium), stay cool, and drink plenty of fluids. As counterintuitive as it sounds, sipping water actually helps your body rid itself of excess fluid it's hanging on to. Oh, and prop your feet up as much as possible; elevating them can also lessen swelling. (While you're at it, why not ask your guy for a nice, long foot massage? Ahhh).

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    Summer-Proof Your Office Space

    Whether you're trying to work ahead before maternity leave or are secretly registering for your layette online, chances are you're still clocking some decent hours at work this summer. Make your office more bearable by stocking your desk with heat-beating essentials like a fan, extra water bottles, and comfy shoes for lunchtime strolls. And for those really sticky, sweaty days, it can't hurt to stow an extra maternity tee or tank.

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    Clear Off Your Social Calendar

    Long car trips + pregnant belly = unhappy, uncomfortable mama-to-be. This summer, you may want to scale back on your usually frenetic travel schedule (babymoon aside, natch) in favor of activities closer to home. Know that it's perfectly okay to turn down plans every now and then, so don't be afraid to take a rain check on a last-minute invite to a pal's beach house (since it really means seven sweltering hours stuck in the car) or that second cousin's wedding two states away. Cramped car rides are even less fun these days than usual -- and everyone will understand.

  • Stay Cool

    Pregnancy literally does make you one hot mama. Not only is your own metabolic furnace throwing off heat, so is your baby's. In the winter it was probably no biggie, but by now you may find yourself camped in front of the AC and still boiling. And it's more than just a comfort thing -- the scorching weather combined with your hotter-than-usual body temp makes you more prone to overheating, says Dr. Niebyl. Be sure to sip that water and dress in lightweight, breathable fabrics. On days when the heat index (which tells you how hot it actually feels outside by factoring in both temperature and humidity) rises above 90, try to spend as much time as possible inside in a nice, cool space. Note: If your heart starts pounding, you feel dizzy, or you stop sweating, you may have heat exhaustion. Rest right away and get something cool to drink. If symptoms don't subside, call your doctor.

  • Practice Picnic Safety

    Summer is all about backyard BBQs, spreading out a blanket and busting open the picnic basket. By all means, eat alfresco whenever you like, just be smart about it. When you fire up the grill, make sure meats are fully cooked to prevent unwittingly noshing harmful bacteria, like salmonella. You might want to invest in a meat thermometer to totally eliminate the "is it done?" guesswork. Steer clear of perishable foods that have been sitting out for a while. "You probably already know to watch out for things like mayonnaise," says McManus, "but really, anything you'd normally store in the fridge -- cheese, milk, fresh-squeezed juice, even a well-done hamburger -- is worth avoiding if it's been warming in the sun for a few hours."

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    Enjoy the Lazy, Baby-Free Days

    Make it your mission to lounge as much as possible now -- and allow plenty of totally guilt-free you-time. We're not saying you'll never get to read trashy magazines at the beach, treat yourself to weekly pedicures, or have a standing date night with hubs after the bundle arrives, but the opportunities will be fewer, at least for a while. So live it up!

    Copyright © 2008 Meredith Corporation.

    All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. 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.

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