Summertime is lots of fun, with trips to the beach, swimming in the pool, and picnics in the park. But when you’re pregnant, the heat and sun of summer can pose a few extra challenges.
Don’t worry. Even though you’re pregnant, you can still have lots of fun this summer. Just keep the following recommendations in mind.
Stay in the shade
Practicing sun safety makes sense all the time — you always want to reduce your risk of skin cancer and premature aging of your skin. But it’s especially important when you’re pregnant.
The hormones of pregnancy can cause a temporary darkening of the skin on your face. This is called the “mask of pregnancy” because it can appear on your forehead, around your eyes, or on your nose.
Darkening on your face can get worse with sun exposure, so stay in the shade, wear a hat, and apply sunscreen when you’re headed outdoors.
Choose sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and apply it at least 30 minutes before you go outside. Reapply at least every two hours, or more often if you’re sweating or swimming.
For best coverage, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects your skin from UVA and UVB radiation.
Protect yourself from mosquitoes
Mosquitoes can spread viruses that might harm you and your baby, such as the Zika virus and the West Nile virus.
To avoid mosquitoes, stay inside when mosquitoes are active, install screens on windows and doors, and use mosquito repellants when needed. Pregnant women can use mosquito repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, IR3535, and 2-undecanone.
Enjoy summer produce
During pregnancy, you and your baby need lots of the wonderful nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. Delicious summer produce provides a wealth of important nutrients — for example, you get vitamin A from cantaloupe, vitamin C from bell peppers, vitamin B6 from carrots, folic acid from strawberries, and iron from spinach.
Take advantage of the summer bounty and enjoy plenty of produce every day.
Your body needs extra water during pregnancy. It helps you regulate your body temperature, your blood volume, and your amniotic fluid.
Although it’s important for everyone to stay hydrated, it’s especially crucial for pregnant women. Dehydration can lead to neural tube defects, low amniotic fluid levels, and premature labor.
To stay hydrated, drink 8 to 12 glasses of water daily.
Your body temperature is slightly higher during pregnancy than it was before you conceived, so you’ll feel the summer heat even more than everyone else.
Avoid overheating by staying in the shade, wearing loose-fitting clothing, and drinking plenty of water. And when temperatures soar, head for an air-conditioned room.
Keep an eye on swelling
You can expect some swelling during pregnancy, especially when the temperature and humidity rise. You may notice swelling in your face, hands, legs, feet, and ankles.
To relieve swelling, avoid standing, rest with your feet up, seek a cool place, drink water, avoid salt, or soak in a cool bath or pool.
Although some swelling is normal, excessive swelling can be a sign of preeclampsia, a potentially serious pregnancy complication. Call us right away if you have sudden swelling, especially in your face or hands.
Unless your providers here at Annandale Ob-Gyn & Primary Care have told you not to exercise, stay active during the summer months. Aim for about 30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity exercise such as walking or swimming.
Regular exercise benefits you and your baby. It can help you avoid excess weight gain while improving your sleep, helping you feel less stressed, and easing some of the common discomforts of pregnancy, such as back pain, constipation, and swelling in your legs and feet.
It also can lower your risk of pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia (high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy).
When you exercise in warm weather, avoid overheating and drink plenty of water.
Plan a summer getaway
If you and your partner can manage it, make time for a relaxing vacation or weekend away. The baby will arrive before you know it, and your life will turn much busier!
Don’t forget your check-ups!
Regular check-ups help keep you and your baby healthy and safe throughout your pregnancy, so make sure you keep all of your appointments.
Our team at Annandale Ob-Gyn & Primary Care, with offices in Annandale and Alexandria, Virginia, can answer your questions, give you important advice, and catch any health problems and pregnancy complications early.