My son was born in the dead of winter, making his big debut on January 1 and kicking off a brand-new year and a wildly different new life. We spent plenty of time hibernating from the snow, plus a few weeks chasing the sun in Arizona, and finally emerged to a budding spring after three months (a milestone that brought some comfort, though little more sleep).
I loved being pregnant. Not only could I adopt a fall wardrobe of hand-me-down maternity jeans, ankle boots and my husband’s old sweaters, but I was also constantly in awe of the little movements I felt in my belly—even if Theo spent most of his time crammed in my right ribcage jabbing around with those sharp little limbs.
My sweaty haze of a second pregnancy couldn’t be more different. From chafed thighs and swollen ankles to fierce BO and a permanently misty upper lip, it’s been harder to bask in the glory of this magical pursuit. And hey, I know I’m lucky to be pregnant at all, so when my self-pitying peaked, I found comfort on Today’s Parent’s Facebook page, where our readers gamely shared their favourite things about being pregnant in the summer—and it made me realize that this seasonal swap has some perks of its own.
I can’t do anything about the fact that my second child has promptly found their way into his or her big brother’s well-trodden rib nook, but I can take comfort in these eight reasons why being pregnant in the summer actually rocks.
1. Swollen feet, be free
Yes, my feet are way more swollen in the summer than I remember them being in the winter, and it hit a lot more quickly, but guess what? Sandals! Today’s Parent readers unanimously agreed that slipping on a pair of Birkenstocks, flip flops or slides was the perfect solution for sized-up trotters—plus you avoid having to bend down and pull on shoes and socks.
While supportive sneakers can help make swollen feet more comfortable, they won’t necessarily reduce swelling, says CJ Blennerhassett, a registered midwife in Nova Scotia. “Sandals are fine as long as they are supporting the feet well and are not pinching as the swelling increases,” she says. For added relief, be sure to drink plenty of water, get out walking, elevate your feet when you’re resting and try some foot exercises. Blennerhassett also cautions to keep an eye on how your swelling is distributed: “Gradual swelling is normal, but if you have sudden, unexplained or uneven swelling (for example, one leg is significantly more swollen than the other), see your healthcare provider promptly.”
One evil genius of a reader noted that having your toes out and about is “also an excuse to get more pedicures ;)” and we’re here for that. Plus, on park visits and afternoons spent in the backyard, you can give true meaning to the idea of being barefoot and pregnant in the grass. Let those tootsies breathe!
2. Easy, breezy wardrobe
10 strange pregnancy symptoms nobody tells you aboutWhile I loved my fall/winter maternity garb, perusing H&M and the Zara summer sale for sack-like bohemian dresses has been a treat—and they’ll remain wardrobe staples next summer when I’m sans bebe. Once again, I’ve barely had to buy any maternity clothes, nor have I had to entice my husband to part with half his cold-weather staples, and I love feeling the breeze beneath my flowing frocks (I’ve just added some shapewear shorts to the equation to keep chafing at bay). Our Facebook commenters also love the no-pants party that is summer pregnancy, shedding constricting maternity jeans in favour of maxi dresses and saving money on maternity coats.
3. A feast of riches
Two words: Summer. Produce. I’ve literally gorged on a bounty of nature’s candy—think raspberries, peaches, plums and watermelon. FB fans were also smitten with strawberries, blueberries, cherries and nectarines. Plus, in-their-prime corn, tomatoes, eggplant, greens and peppers mean I’m eating more veggies than ever. “An increase in fibrous foods, iron-rich foods, calcium, and vitamins C and D are helpful in pregnancy,” says Blennerhassett. “I encourage my clients to eat a variety of foods, ones they can afford and enjoy (eating a ton of fresh Nova Scotia strawberries is one of the best parts of an East Coast summer).” Just be sure to practice good food hygiene and wash fruits and veg thoroughly!
Don’t get me wrong, like plenty of readers I’m also peppering my produce with an abundance of refreshing cold treats (near-daily ice cream, anyone?). And for those dealing with morning sickness (or the relentless, all-day variety I had), one fellow mom found refuge in “tons of cold lemonade.”
4. Float on
There are so many good reasons to hit the pool or lake while pregnant—it’s a good way to stay active, helps you cool off in the heat and floating around offers some relief for your achiest body parts. “Swimming is a great form of exercise when pregnant and at all stages of pregnancy, as it takes pressure off of joints and ligaments that are looser in pregnancy and more liable to be strained or stressed,” says Blennerhassett. “Moving your body is greatly beneficial in pregnancy and I encourage people to continue doing whatever kinds of exercise they were doing prior to becoming pregnant, adding in any modifications as necessary.”
What’s more, your kids will also love trips to the local watering hole, and often sleep more soundly at night after blowing off all that steam swimming. “Picnic dinners by the lake to cool off” were one of our follower’s faves, which sound heavenly, and if there’s no large body of water in sight, we’re totally here for another’s affinity for “hanging in the kiddie pool with no shame.”
5. The great outdoors
Keeping kids entertained in the summer is a breeze, especially when you’re pregnant and have a fraction of your usual energy. Forget scheduling indoor activities – grab a ball and head to the park to easily exhaust your little ones. If there’s a wading pool or splash pad on hand, all the better. And when you aren’t “stealing quiet moments in the evening sun with baby kicking,” like one whimsical reader, you can also enlist your older kids’ help in the garden.
Hiking and strolling are great modes of exercise when you’re expecting, and a few followers mentioned biking, too (I’m definitely not that coordinated). “Taking walks outside if that feels safe and accessible is a great way to move your body in pregnancy and can also have added benefits for mood,” says Blennerhassett.
If baby makes his or her debut during the summer, you’re also in for plenty of “regenerative outdoor walks” with your newest member, says one Facebook fan. But the best part of all, for those of us who live with four seasons, is not having to waddle through ice and snow and worry about falling. Sounds pretty chilled, no?
6. Confidence boost
Summer preggos reported being more than happy to throw caution to the wind, feeling inclined to shed their usual insecurities and embrace their blossoming bods. Not only is all that sunshine a mood booster, but our readers are keen to stop sucking in their bellies in bathing suits, embrace their new curves in bikinis and show off their summer tans—which made one feel “less blah.” I was more reserved at first, cramming my 5-month-pregnant figure into my non-maternity one-piece bathers—but once that ship had sailed and I refused to buy a maternity suit, I said f*ck it and busted out some old bikinis. And honestly, it felt amazing.
7. Contraction distraction
When those early contractions kick in, especially during your first pregnancy, there’s often a long road ahead—one where you’re best served by distractions to pass the time. Well, it just so happens that the summer months are brimming with opportunity (just be sure you’ve discussed your birth plan in detail with your doctor and/or midwife and monitor your contractions). If you live in a bustling ‘hood, pop out your front door and walk to any number of destinations, from your local ice cream shop to a park with trails and even last-minute shopping for baby. You can also just meander through your neighbourhood with loved ones in tow or, better yet, bring your family to you! “We had an outdoor BBQ with music and kebabs while I was labouring,” we heard from a clever reader. “It made contractions less noticeable.” Well played!
8. Summer birthday parties
Yes, when you’re still pregnant or first charged with caring for a tiny newborn, this seems like a far-off fantasy, but summer babies mean summer birthday parties and this might just be the biggest gift of all! While my son’s soirees will always be indoors at pricey play places or in heavily decorated party rooms, our friends’ warm-weather babes gather their squads at the neighbourhood park and let the playgrounds and wading pools do all the heavy lifting. Throw in some pizza and cake and you’ve pulled off the breeziest bday fete that’s loved by all (especially your wallet!).