Summer Pregnancy Guide: Tips for Safety and Comfort
In addition to the 8 glasses of water you need daily throughout pregnancy, you have to think about replacing the water you lose sweating. We tell patients to drink so much water that their pee is light yellow (dark, concentrated urine is an indication that you’re not getting enough fluids). Smoothies with a lot of ice and fruit and maybe even a little yogurt are easy and refreshing.
And if you get tired of drinking, make popsicles: Just puree berries or melon (or a mix)—throw some mint leaves into the blender if you like—pour into popsicle molds, and freeze.
Keep your feet comfortable
Many summer shoes have no support. We suggest sandals that cradle your foot, like Birkenstocks, and adjust if your feet swell. Don’t wear flip-flops for walking around—they can trip you up. Also take a look at shoe brands like Tsubo, and Naturalizer. New sandals can cut into feet and ankles and make you uncomfortable. Be sure to break them in at home, or if you’re going to be walking all day, bring backup shoes.
Be careful at the beach
Sun protection is very important. During pregnancy, your skin has increased sensitivity to the sun. Exposure can exacerbate melasma, the skin hyperpigmentation that sometimes comes with pregnancy—and a sunburn can cause dehydration. Apply a non-chemical sunscreen (zinc oxide), and use an umbrella or a big hat—one that breathes (a lot of heat escapes through your head, and that’s good news in summer).
Skip the beach during the hottest hours of the day—enjoy it in early morning or later afternoon—and on very hot days, keep beach time down to short intervals. As for other water options: only swim in pools that are very clean (you can dangle your feet in there to cool off, if you’re unsure) and that aren’t reeking of chlorine. In warm lakes and ponds, it’s a good idea not to put your head in the water. There are potential dangers, and though it’s rare, there have been some terrible cases.
Practice picnic safety
When hosts have set up a buffet outdoors, it’s best to avoid foods with mayo and anything else that could spoil from heat. You’re more susceptible to food poisoning when you’re pregnant, so if a perishable item has been out in the heat for two hours or more, don’t eat it.
Also keep mind that very salty food can make you swell—pregnancy and the heat already cause swelling (especially of hands and feet), so you may want to avoid salty food so as not to exacerbate that.
Plan your outdoor workout
Get your gentle hike in early in the morning or toward the end of the day, while temperatures are cooler. On really hot days, don’t exercise outside (in fact, when it’s 90 or above, don’t be outside for more than 20 minutes at a time, and only as needed). The increase in blood volume is already asking your body to work harder. You don’t want to challenge it further.
A well-ventilated, well-cooled studio for prenatal yoga is a better choice on very hot days—or a clean, well-cooled gym. Wash hands after working out on shared equipment. In general, wash your hands more often than usual during pregnancy; simple hand-washing, with regular soap (not antibacterial) is very effective in keeping germs at bay. Don’t rush through; a good rule of thumb is to scrub for as long as it takes to sing happy birthday (so about a minute).
Be smart during car rides
Keep the windows wide open for the first couple of minutes, while the air conditioner is ramping up. This will allow any AC fumes to escape. If you’re on a longish ride, stop every half hour or so to get out of the car, move around, and stretch your back and legs. It’s important to avoid stasis in pregnancy—whether in summer, fall, winter or spring.
Watch out for ticks
Have fun in the countryside, but cover up to protect yourself from ticks. If you’re walking in nature, wear lightweight long pants and long sleeves, and tuck your pant legs into your socks. Wear serious insect repellant, and do a good tick check when you get home. Ticks take a while to attach, so if you shower after you’ve been outside, that’s protective—scrub your whole body with soap and a wash cloth.
If you have a yard and want to minimize ticks, you can check out Tick Tubes, which are little cardboard toilet rolls that attract mice and treat them with pesticide, reducing the chance that they’ll carry ticks around your property. They’re safe for kids and pets.