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Local Health Experts: How to Stay Cool if You’re Pregnant

Saturday, July 23, 2011

 

The heat has a way of draining the energy out of us. When you’re pregnant, however, there’s more to hot sticky days than just feeling droopy.



“A pregnant woman feels hot all the time because of the changes in her body caused by the pregnancy,” explains Robert Berry, MD, director of ambulatory care at Women & Infants Hospital. “When Mother Nature turns up the heat outside, it can be really difficult to stay cool.”

But, it’s important that a pregnant woman find ways to avoid overheating in the summer because it’s easy to become dehydrated, which could lead to dizziness, cramping, or other complications. Women & Infants offers these tips:

Chill out. “A pregnant woman is more sensitive to blood pressure changes because her blood pressure is already lower due to the pregnancy,” Dr. Berry says. “If a mother gets too hot, her blood pressure can drop more and cause fainting or other symptoms.” When the mercury climbs, seek shade, drink plenty of water, and wear loose-fitting clothing. Exercise in the air conditioning instead of the midday heat. Get medical help if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or short of breath.
 
Protect your skin. Melasma, also called the “mask of pregnancy,” causes brown or gray patches to form on your face. Sun exposure increases your risk. To prevent or treat melasma, wear a sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection and has an SPF of at least 30.
 
Reduce your swelling. Fluid build-up in your legs or ankles causes a puffiness called edema. Sitting or standing still for too long in warm weather makes it worse. Prop up your legs as often as you can when you are sitting or reclining, and move around frequently.
 
Beat the yeast. Extra sweating below the belt leads to itching, irritation, and sometimes vaginal yeast infections, which strike many pregnant women. Ward them off by wearing cotton undergarments and loose-fitting pants. Change out of wet swimsuits and exercise clothing quickly.
 
Avoid insects.
Infections spread by warm-weather pests like mosquitoes and ticks can become severe enough to harm your baby. Now, the good news: repellant containing DEET is best for beating bugs, and, when used as directed, does not increase the risk for birth defects. You can also wear long sleeves when outdoors and step inside during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most likely to bite.
 
If you have any questions about fighting the heat when pregnant or with a newborn, call the Women & Infants Warm Line at 1-800-711-7011.

 

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