As you read on Tuesday (Part 1), dehydration and hyperthermia can cause dangerous complications of pregnancy. Remember you have permission to be a Drama Queen during the summer months! Take it easy and take care of yourself as the temperature climbs. You can also enlist your partner and other family members to help you take advantage of one, some, or all of these comfort measures listed below to avoid dehydration and hyperthermia in the first place.
The simplest steps you can take are staying hydrated, getting rest, and staying out of direct sunlight and high temperatures. Above all, good judgment is the best guide when you are out and about in the heat and sunlight.
Here is a more detailed list of suggestions and tips I complied from having had three (!) summer pregnancies, and all the reading I did on the subject (see the articles in the reference section below).
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Clothing and Fabrics
- Wear light-colored clothing that will reflect the sunlight.
- Stay away from dark colors that absorb heat if you are out and about during the day.
- Wear non-restrictive clothing to minimize swelling – you want to encourage optimal circulation as much as possible. Pay special attention to wear clothing that isn't restrictive around your waist area.
- Wear a cooling bandana – there are several brands available in the stores, or you may be able to shop local and support a crafter at an area farmer’s market.
- Wear fabrics that are breathable and keep you cool, such as Cool Max (wicks sweat), Lycra (keeps shape while being elastic) and Supplex (cottony feel and quick-drying). Stay away from Spandex and nylon based fabrics that don’t let your skin breathe.
- Breathable fabrics can also help prevent heat rashes on your breasts and abdomen, the areas that rub against the fabric the most.
- Avoid open-weave fabrics that allow the sun to reach your skin.
Cool Comfort Measures
- Carry a spritzer bottle or personal misting fan with you. For extra cooling, keep them in filled in the refrigerator until you need to take them with you.
- Take frequent, quick showers – air dry if you have time, or pat dry if you need to move on with your day.
- Stay cool indoors by sitting in an air conditioned space or near an electric fan.
- If air conditioning isn’t an option, try an air filter or a dehumidifier. These are especially helpful if you live in a humid climate.
- Find the most comfortable room in the building and make that your nest. If your house or workplace doesn’t have one of those rooms, think about investing in a personal air conditioner that you can leave in your space, or move around with you.
- Keep beauty products such as sun lotion, moisturizer or toner in the refrigerator. Applying a cold product to your skin will give you an instant cool down.
- Use cold packs or ice cubes at wrist pulse points, the back of the neck and on the forehead. You can keep long-lasting soft-gel cooling strips in your car or purse when you know the freezer isn’t going to be handy when you are out running errands. You can also decide if THESE amazing necklaces might come in handy now instead of later.
- Get long hair up and off your neck. You can braid it, tie it in a ponytail or clip it up. Find easy up-dos via BuzzFeed HERE .
- Raise your legs at every opportunity – encourage good circulation whenever and however possible.
- If you don’t have a swimming pool, fill a wading pool with water and place it in a shady part of your yard or patio. Cool off as needed!
- Wear a heart rate monitor to ensure your working heart rate stays in a safe range while you exercise. Ask your care provider what they feel is a safe active heart rate for you.
- Avoid exercising during the hot hours. Wherever you are in the country, the temperature is generally the hottest between 10:00 am – 3:00 pm.
- It follows to limit your outdoor activities from the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm - find as many places to stay cool inside as possible!
- Instead of walking outside, do your walking inside at an indoor track or at an indoor shopping mall.
- Swimming is a good warm/hot-weather option. It supports your growing body, the feeling of weightlessness is awesome, it cools off your whole body, it takes weight off the sciatic nerve, and it encourages the baby into an optimal birthing position.
- Prenatal yoga can be another good option. A class taught by an experienced prenatal instructor will provide a good mix of heart healthy poses, strengthening poses, and relaxation (see "Mind Over Matter" by scrolling down in this post).
- Do the pregnancy exercises assigned by your Bradley Method® instructor. They are designed to be gentle enough to do during any time of the year, yet there is enough repetition to strengthen the muscles you will need for your labor.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day, and more if you are active.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks. Caffeine acts as a diuretic and it may increase the frequency of urination, which can then lead to a reduction in your body fluid levels – hello, dehydration.
- Make sure you are replacing your electrolytes...water intoxication is an actual condition that can be caused by drinking too much water in a short amount of time. In order to hydrate safely, we have used the product made by Emergen-C. Coconut water is a great natural "gatorade". A third option is to use trace minerals - find a brand you trust and add them to your glass of water.
- Eat little meals more often. Large meals increase your metabolism and this could make you feel hotter.
- Eat fluid-filled foods, such as strawberries, celery, watermelon and cucumber. HERE are more ideas for hydrating foods.
- Make healthy popsicles by freezing organic fruit juices.
- Treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant – use their air conditioning and you can keep the heat out of your kitchen since you won’t be using your stove or your oven for food prep that night. As a bonus, pack half of your meal in a to-go container and have it as a snack later.
- Read more about eating during pregnancy HERE - archive post from Spring 2014.
Hustle and Bustle
- Do your chores early or late in the day when the temperature is cooler.
- Move slowly and avoid rushing.
- Avoid movements that could lead to light-headedness, such as repetitive bending or rushing around on staircases.
Mind Over Matter
- Relaxation – the key to The Bradley Method®. It is easier to keep your body temperature lower if you are calm and relaxed instead of stressed and hurried. Take the time to practice some mental imagery and move through your day with the intention to stay cool.
- Breathe – a good rhythmic breathing pattern can reduce heat production in your body. The foundation of relaxation is breathing that supports a relaxed state. Bradley instructors love to encourage abdominal breathing anytime and anywhere.
- Meditate – even an one-minute practice can make a difference - really!! Find some meditation resources HERE - archive post from Spring 2015.
- Stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Sunburn impairs the body’s ability to cool itself and it causes the loss of body fluids.
- If you must be or choose to be in the sun, use a good sunscreen, at least SPF 15. The natural momma in me will encourage you to find a sunscreen that is organic, thereby minimizing the amount of chemicals absorbed into your bloodstream. EWG publishes a sun-screen guide - find it HERE.
- Avoid mid-day direct sun exposure. If you live in the north, this means stay out of the sun between 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. If you live in the south, this means 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- Use a sun hat and sunglasses to avoid prolonged exposure or sunstroke.
- Apply a sun lotion at the end of the day whether or not you sunburn. The ingredients will soothe and restore your skin from the drying effects of the sun.
Did I forget to mention one?
What is your favorite sun safety tip?
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.