I am due in August, which means I'll spend my third trimester, also know as the longest three months of a woman’s life, melting in the summer heat! What little of it we will get in Ireland anyway.
I had thought that a summer pregnancy would be a great idea. I pictured us spending our last few months before baby enjoying the sunshine. But now as the warmer months are imminent, I am reminded that my Pilates studio gets hot! And I am not made for heat in general, let alone while seven months plus pregnant!
So I have researched and compiled all my favourite ways to stay cool and avoid the drama that being a huge human furnace might bring... This post is for all the other mothers to be who are on the home stretch in the hotter months of the year.
My Top Summer Pregnancy Survival Tips to Beat the Heat and Enjoy Summer!
1. Stay Hydrated
In order to properly cool off, our bodies need to be adequately hydrated. When you are too hot, you perspire and the sweat evaporates from your skin. Because water has a high heat capacity, when it evaporates it takes the heat with it, creating a cooling effect.
Staying hydrated is especially important for expecting mums. Dehydration during pregnancy can lead to overheating, low amniotic fluid and even premature contractions. A healthy baby needs a well-hydrated mum! A sign of being well-hydrated is having a clear or light yellow urine colour.
As a pregnant woman, you need more water than the average person and you need even more when you are perspiring to cool down. Plain water is the top choice. Keep a filled water bottle with you at all times. Yes it will mean many trips to the bathroom, but it's worth it. Being hydrated helps you to stay cool and help minimise any swelling of your feet and ankles.
If you are tired of plain water, add a squeeze of lemon, or mix with a little fresh fruit juice. At home you can make a jug of infused water. Try adding fresh strawberry, lime, and cucumber to a jug and let chill for a few hours in the fridge.
2. Wear Loose, Breathable Clothes
The more air that can circulate around your body, the cooler you will be. So look for loose, flowy items in breathable fabrics such as cotton, linen, silk and chambray instead of denim. Some breathable synthetic fabrics are bamboo and Tencel. Think maxi dresses with a slit up to the knee, cotton shirts and for cardigans choose fine knit merino wool. When you can and when it's appropriate, wear as little clothing as possible. At home, relax in your swimsuit and sleep in your underwear.
For activewear, choose fabrics that will wick perspiration away from your skin, such as nylon, polyester or polypropylene blended with spandex. These draw moisture to the surface of the fabric where it can evaporate. Absorbent fabrics like cotton will retain the moisture making you feel damp when it's drying.
3. Hang Out In Cool Places
Our house tends to get hot in the summertime! To help cool it down, I keep the bedroom blinds and curtains closed when the sun is hitting that side of the house, then open them (plus the windows) once that side is in the shade. This really helps keep the upstairs cool for bedtime. If your house has air conditioning, use it!
If your house is not cool enough, go somewhere with air conditioning like a café, library, cinema or shopping centre and relax there. Your main priority should be staying cool and comfortable and these air conditioned places allow you to do this.
4. Be Smart When Outside
If you're taking a walk, try to aim for early morning or late evening when it's cooler. If you have to be out in the peak sunshine of the afternoon, try to stay in the shade as much as possible. I always cross the road to the shady side in the summer anyway because I hate feeling super sweaty when I get where I am going.
Be sure to apply plenty of good quality sunscreen to avoid sunburn. That's the last thing you need! Sun exposure in pregnancy can also lead to melasma, a condition in which blotchy areas of darkened skin appear during pregnancy. So staying in the shade is the wisest choice during pregnancy.
5. Keep Your Freezer Stocked
Aim to stock up with healthier treat options such as frozen fruit (for smoothies) and frozen yoghurt or homemade ice lollies instead of rich ice cream. Have plenty of lemon or lime in the fridge to add to your water. You can also freeze sliced lemon, lime or grapefruit to add to your glass instead of plain ice.
I already have tons of ice sticks ready in the fridge for my water bottle or making ice packs and I plan to stock up with fruit ice lollies for any warm afternoons off.
6. Cool Down with an Ice Pack
Try applying a frozen damp face cloth or an ice pack to your wrists or feet. The idea here is to cool the blood vessels, which then circulates this cooled blood throughout your body. You can also run your wrists under cold running water for a similar cooling effect.
7. Cool Off In The Water
If you are lucky enough to have a pool in your home or have a nice public pool nearby, take advantage of it. Not only is swimming a lovely relaxing way to cool off but it is a fabulous way to exercise while pregnant. No pool nearby? (Or you're rubbish at swimming, like me.) Take full advantage of a kiddie pools in a shady spot of the garden while sipping your icy smoothie. You can even just dip your feet in it.
Take lukewarm/almost cold showers to help cool down. Don’t take super cold showers though because that could possibly send your body into shock. Not the best time for an ice bath either.
8. Rest When You Can
Being active during your pregnancy is always a good idea, it ensures that you and your baby stay happy and healthy but rest is just as important. Taking some time each day to rest with your feet up can help ease oedema (swelling due to water retention) of the feet and ankles, which the heat can aggravate. Avoid doing exhausting activities. Even though the nesting instinct will kick in, late pregnancy is not the best time to rearrange the furniture in your baby’s nursery.
9. Ask For Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Chances are your family and friends won’t mind helping out the overheating pregnant lady. Have your husband/partner help you around the house, or take your other children out for a few hours so you can take a shower and relax somewhere cool for a bit.
I hope these summer pregnancy hacks help us stay healthy, comfortable and happy all summer long!