Pregnancy isn’t known for making women comfortable any time of year, but this discomfort can be heightened during the warm/sweltering months of summer. If you are pregnant, you may be feeling especially susceptible to the effects of the heat because are likely already experiencing increased body temperature due to your blood volume almost doubling, excess fluid in your body causing swelling, and a metabolism that’s almost constantly working. This can all lead to a sweaty, cranky summer...But it doesn’t have to!
Following are tips to help you not only maintain comfort and sanity during the summer, but also minimize the dangerous effects of overheating and dehydration.
Drink plenty of water. This is a big one. A large water bottle (preferably metal) should be your constant companion this summer, as water helps regulate your body temperature by supporting it in releasing heat, primarily through sweat that cools the skin as it evaporates. And because you need to replenish the water you sweat out, the American Pregnancy Association recommends pregnant women drink 8-12 glasses of water each day, and more if you’ll be engaging in strenuous activities.
Because you also need to replenish electrolytes, put a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt in your water, drink coconut water, or eat foods rich in electrolytes like pickles, olives, bananas, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
Stay away from warm liquids and food. As your body temperature increases when you intake warm food or drink, it’s best to stay away from them during the summer. So, you can swap your hot tea for something like iced decaffeinated tea, and hot soup for a cool dish like gazpacho.
Cool off with homemade popsicles. Remember those popsicle molds from childhood? Pregnancy is the perfect time to get them back out, as they allow you to craft a sweet treat that’s affordable, and filled with calcium, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
To make, mix unsweetened yogurt with your favorite fruits. You can add honey for additional sweetness. From there, fill your popsicle molds and leave them in the freezer for 5-hours. Some favorite combos are yogurt and blueberries, or yogurt with strawberries and pineapple.
If you don’t eat dairy, create a healthy, cool snack by freezing grapes or watermelon. And be sure to eat the watermelon seeds, as they’re loaded with protein and help regulate blood pressure and the metabolism of carbohydrates. They’re also rich in monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and omega-6 fatty acids.
Hibernate in a cool indoor nest. On those exceedingly hot summer days, give yourself a pass and chill out in a cool, dark room with a book, the remote, a favorite pillow, or all of the above. You can also snack on those aforementioned popsicles and frozen fruit.
Sleep. A nap not only feels divine, but also lowers your body temperature, as (not surprisingly) you’re using less energy than when you’re active. However, if you can’t cool off enough to nap, slip into a cool bath, light a candle, and listen to a favorite meditation or soothing music.
Utilize the cooling properties of peppermint essential oil. This oil is a summer favorite as it has cooling, invigorating, and nausea-relieving properties. To use, put 3-5 drops in an essential oil diffuser, or blend one drop with a teaspoon of a carrier oil, like coconut or jojoba oil, then rub it on your chest and shoulders.
You can also soak your feet in a tub of cool water, two drops of peppermint essential oil, and ½ cup Epsom salt. Another easy option is putting 1-2 drops on a cool, wet washcloth washcloth, then placing it across your forehead, chest, or the back of your neck.
Exercise in water. Moving your body is important, but the risk of overheating during summer exercise is high for some women. You can minimize this risk by swimming in a local pool, or safe body of water. This gentle whole-body workout increases circulation, and can provide relief from swelling, and minimize stress. However, it’s best to check in with your care provider before starting a new exercise regimen.
Opt for loose, breathable clothing. Tight clothes made of synthetic material can be one of the biggest culprits of discomfort during the summer. Bypass this irritation by wearing loose clothing made of breathable material like organic cotton or linen, as they facilitate the evaporation of sweat, which helps skin cool quicker. In addition, avoid tight waistbands and seek lighter colors, as they absorb less heat.
Fill your home with cooling, purifying plants. Did you know that certain house plants purify and cool the air? That’s right, moving popular foliage like the aloe Vera plant, Areca palm tree, Ficus tree, fern, or snake plant into your home can help create a fresher, cooler indoor environment.
Block sun during the day, and let in fresh air in the evening. As you’ve likely discovered, sun shining through your windows on a hot day quickly ups the temperature in your home, even when you have the air conditioner on. Beat this heat by keeping windows and blinds closed on especially hot days, then letting in fresh, cool air by opening windows at night.
Make your room a crisp haven for sleep. Sleep is always crucial, but it’s especially important (and sometimes hard to come by) during pregnancy. So, to ensure summer heat doesn’t interfere with your zzzs, make the following shifts in your sleep space.
- Sleep in loose pajamas made of cotton, silk, or linen.
- Use bamboo or moisture-wicking sheets.
- Keep the air circulating with a ceiling or floor fan.
- Trap in cool air by using blackout curtains.
- On excessively hot nights, wrap a freezer pack in a pillowcase and place it under your feet.
While summer might feel like torture while pregnant, making these simple shifts can help you gently ease into this lighthearted time of year, replacing exhaustion and sweatiness with rest and joy. Above all, take it easy on yourself as you navigate these long, balmy days, all the while remembering that the crisp days of fall will eventually be upon us.