The Scoop on Summer Pregnancy Issues

Dehydration and Heat Exhaustion

The Problem

Ironically, all that extra fluid does not protect you or your growing baby from an increased risk of dehydration during the summer. In fact, fluid retention may actually contribute to dehydration by moving fluid out of the cells and into the spaces surrounding them. In hot weather, your body tries to cool itself off by perspiring, which further reduces the amount of fluid circulating in your body.

Dehydration is particularly dangerous during pregnancy because it can make your baby's heart beat too fast and increase your risk of preterm labor. Maternal signs of dehydration include thirst, dry or chapped lips, dry skin, fatigue, and constipation. The only fetal sign that you may notice is that your baby is not as active as usual (always call your doctor if you notice a decrease in your baby's kicking over a 24-hour period).

The Solution

If you experience symptoms of dehydration, drink a full glass of water or juice immediately, and make a conscious effort to increase your overall fluid intake throughout the day. It's best not to wait for these signs, though, because by the time they occur, you and your baby may have already lost important fluid. If this fluid is not quickly replaced, both of you could suffer heat exhaustion. Symptoms of this potentially dangerous condition include fatigue, weakness, anxiety, muscle cramps, nausea, and fainting. If you believe you're suffering from heat exhaustion, drink a glass of juice while someone else calls 911 or drives you to the emergency room.

To prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion, drink at least eight to 10 glasses of noncaffeinated liquids daily, try to limit your time outdoors during midday, and avoid places and situations that might cause you to overheat. If your home or workplace is not air-conditioned, a fan and an air filter or dehumidifier can help.

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