Being pregnant

5 ways to beat the heat while pregnant

Karen figures out a few tricks to help her survive a summer pregnancy.

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

There are some advantages to being pregnant during the summer months: Swollen feet fit more easily into sandals, dressing is cheap (thank you H&M for your stretchy and flowy dresses that I can squeeze into for less than $30!) and work hours tend to be more flexible, making it a great time for visiting with family and friends before the baby comes.

But, with several weeks of summer still to go, I’ve been wondering about how I’m going to manage more of these hot and muggy days. I confess, the non-stop heat wave is getting to me. I was okay when the season started—granted I was much smaller and the novelty of summer (cottaging, swimming, ice cream, yay!) was still in full effect—but the past two weeks have been a different story. Now I sweat (and I do mean sweat) when stuck in a subway car without air conditioning. I huff and puff my way along the scorching sidewalks and, much to my husband’s chagrin, now have the air conditioning cranked at home.

Summer heat is notoriously uncomfortable for pregnant women, and poses some unique risks (overheating can lead to a higher chance of miscarriage during the first trimester, and dizziness, fainting and dehydration are possibilities for those of us who are further along). Here are five tips I’ll be trying, to get through the rest of the season safely—and a bit more comfortably.

1. Take cool showers
Water cools and can help with swelling. Since I don’t have a pool—and the lake at the cottage isn’t exactly nearby—I’ll be trying cool showers in the evenings to help me relax before bed.

2. Seek shade
Sun exposure doesn’t pose any more of a risk than usual, but it’s obviously cooler in the shade, and if your skin is prone to melasma (dark patches that can appear on your face or neck during pregnancy) reducing your exposure may help.

Read more: The biggest sunscreen myths exposed>

3. Drink more water
Some doctors estimate that pregnant women need an extra two to four glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. (In extreme cases dehydration can cause contractions and even preterm labour.) To prevent even mild dehydration I’ve been carrying a water bottle with me everywhere to ensure I’m getting enough H20. I sometimes add a small slice of lemon or drizzle of fruit juice, for a hint of flavour.

4. Avoid unnecessary changes in body temperature
Too many trips between the A/C and outdoors on a really steamy day forces your body to work extra hard to continually adjust to the spikes and falls in temperature. When I know I’m going to be outside for an afternoon I’ll be making doubly sure that I’m wearing light, breathable clothing and a hat to make sure I’m comfy.

5. Put your feet up
Swollen legs and feet aren’t news, but they do tend to happen even more quickly when it’s really hot outside. The other day, when it was plus 35 in Toronto (again), I was shocked to look down and see my feet ballooning out of my sandals. Today’s Parent staff be warned: To keep this under control I may need to put an ottoman under my desk!

Do you have any summer heat savers I should add to my list? Tweet me @KarenRobock.

Originally published August 2012.