Although fall will be here before we know it (I can almost smell the flannel and Pumpkin Spice Lattes), it is currently quite hot and muggy in Iowa. As my second summer pregnancy draws to a close, I thought I would throw together a quick guide to surviving the summer while pregnant. You may not know that when you are pregnant, your body temperature is typically a little higher than normal, so it’s not your imagination that you’re running hot! The combination of your increased body temperature plus the often extreme heat of midwest summers is not a pleasant mix for those of us who are or have been pregnant during the summer. When you are pregnant it takes about twice the amount of energy to cool both you and your baby off! These factors all increase your risk for heat exhaustion. So, how do you cope?
It may seem super obvious, but hydration is key. It’s pretty easy to become dehydrated while pregnant, especially during the summer heat when you’re sweating out much of what you’re taking in. I know, I know, it’s a double-edged sword because the more you drink the more you have to pee, which is already annoyingly frequent when pregnant. None the less, I know that I feel markedly better when I’ve been drinking lots of water. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that pregnant women drink a minimum of 2.5 quarts of water per day, more if you are exercising and/or spending time outside in the heat. I know I struggle to remember or force myself to drink enough water, so here are some tips and tricks to help up your consumption.
Make it visually appealing! I am much more likely to reach for my water if it’s in an appealing vessel. I love cups that have built in lids and straws, filled with ice, so that I can easily tote them from room to room, inside or outside, or into the car with me. I also don’t have to worry as much about my toddler knocking it over and spilling it! There are a number of glass, plastic and stainless steel options that are all reusable. Insulated stainless steel tumblers are great because they can keep your water cold for many hours.
Have water conveniently available. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself in a mad dash on the way out the door and realize I don’t have a water bottle handy. You don’t want to be out running errands on a hot day with no water. Having a few bottles ready to go in the fridge, freezer or pantry at all times can help ensure that you always have water available even when you’re in a hurry. I also have water bottles easily accessible so that my toddler can grab one for me when I’m busy with the new baby.
Alright! Enough about drinking water already. What are some other tips for keeping cool during the summer? If you are fortunate enough to have central A/C in your home, that can be really helpful, but keeping the temperature cranked down low can also be very expensive. I try to help this by balancing my time at other public locations that have air conditioning such as the mall, the library, grocery stores, etc. to keep cool. My toddler and I also enjoy time spent our wonderful local pools and splash pads.
Wearing minimal light, breathable (think natural fibers like 100% cotton) clothing, and keeping my hair out of my face and off of my neck is a must. Placing cool or frozen wet towels around your neck and forehead, or even ice on your wrists can also help you keep cool, especially when you have to be outside on a really hot day. I also sometimes stick my head in the shower and run cold water over the back of my neck for a minute to lower my core body temp just a bit.
I think it’s also important to rest when you are feeling exhausted during pregnancy. If you can’t lie all the way down, at least try to prop your feet up and sit for a few moments. Even minimal physical activity such as carrying laundry up and down the stairs or groceries in from the car while heavily pregnant and in the heat can be completely draining and leave you panting for breath.
I also solicited advice from some wise pregnant and postpartum parents on a local facebook group that I help admin. One mom suggested:
“When we’re not at the pool, we often fill the kiddie pool in the yard or turn on the sprinkler. The water in Iowa is so cold (it does not get this cold where I’m from)! I love it! Also ice cream all the time and carrying cold drinks on my walking commute to work.” (Thanks Christine!)
Another mom (who also happens to be a former client of our business) suggested “Ice cream sandwiches made my day! Also sometimes I made myself a cool foot bath (with cold water, no ice) at the end of the day” (Thanks Jenna!)
Sometimes body heat from your partner doesn’t feel the greatest when trying to sleep at night. “If you sleep with your significant other and have a full size bed (that starts to feel like a twin), upgrade to a queen (or king!) size. So much better!” (Thanks Megan!)
Several moms mentioned eating lots of water rich foods like grapes, watermelon and cucumber to help meet those hydration goals. (Thanks Kayla!)
So there you have it – my tips to survive a summer pregnancy. What would you add?
The Doulas of Iowa City blog contains guest posts by Doulas of Iowa City member businesses. We are excited to share with you about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and surrounding communities and to help you connect to fabulous local resources.