Mind & Spirit

Beat the heat tips for expecting moms

By: Heather Camlot

Author: Canadian Living

Mind & Spirit

Beat the heat tips for expecting moms

By: Heather Camlot

Your body temperature is high, your feet are swollen and youcre exhausted from carrying around the extra load. Summer is not the pregnant woman's best friend. While you don't have to hide out in the basement during what many refer to as the nicest time of the year, you should take precautions. Try these tips to stay cool and comfortable.

Nutrition
When it comes to carrying in warm climes, Rosanne Shpayer should know how it's done. The Montreal mother of two was living in the Middle East when she was pregnant with her first child. "To keep cool in the uncomfortable summer months I drank a lot of water," she says. And it's a good thing she did.

Your blood fluid increases by 50 per cent when you're pregnant so you need to replenish that fluid. If you don't, it can affect circulation to your organs and cause trauma to the baby, explains Linda Knox, a registered midwife and assistant head of the department of midwifery for the Children's & Women's Health Centre of British Columbia. "If you allow yourself to get really overheated and dehydrated you could be compromising placental circulation."

Also, hot sunny days can slow your appetite. "Eat smaller meals and snacks on a regular basis," says Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of all Pregnancy Books (John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd, 2000). "You'll probably find that fresh fruits and vegetables are likely to have the greatest appeal at this time of year."

Clothing
Looking great is always a pick-me-up and at this special time, it's best to combine style with natural, breathable fibers like silk or cotton, says Nicole Mann, manager of Kick Maternity in Toronto.

This summer's loose styles are perfect for the pregnant woman because they don't trap heat. Try tunics in pale shades of pink and white, airy peasant skirts, and smocked tubes that are fitted at the bust and flow over the stomach. Cropped pants are always a favourite, says Mann. "Women don't like to show their legs because of varicose veins and swelling. Cropped pants offer coolness and style."

Accessorize with funky jewelry -- visit your local maternity shop to find glass bracelets and necklaces that are cool to the touch.

For those tender tootsies, dependent edema, or swelling below the knee, is normal in pregnancy, says Knox; so make sure your shoes are loose and open.

And of course don't forget a maternity swimsuit, adds Douglas. "The best place to be when you're pregnant during the summer months is in the pool!"

Exercise
Your doctor may tell you that any exercise you're used to doing is OK to continue when you're pregnant, but remember that when the temperature rises, your body works harder. "If it's really hot out, reduce the level of exercise and stay well hydrated," explains Knox.

That's what Bernadette Vanneste, mom of one in Toronto, did last summer. "I took my time when walking outside during hot afternoons and I drank a lot of water," she says. "I also indulged my love for ice cream."

You may want to change the time of day you exercise as well. "Be active first thing in the morning when it's still cool out and in the evening," says Knox. "If you're feeling lightheaded, stop what you're doing." Just like your regular wardrobe, make sure your clothing is loose fitting and light in colour and wicks away moisture from the skin.

Sun
While soaking up the rays is never wise, tanning while pregnant is of even greater concern. "[The sun] will only serve to accentuate your chloasma," explains Douglas, "the so-called mask of pregnancy: that butterfly-shaped mask around your eyes and nose." Never leave home without sunscreen, a chic hat and sunglasses.

Instant relief
Even when you're not outside, the heat has a way of sticking to you. "I would often soak my feet in cold water in the bathtub," says Catherine Wood, mother of two in St. Lazare, Que. "I found it cooled off my body and it turned into something fun to do with my 4-year-old son -- lots of splashing going on!"

Sleep is already difficult when pregnant, so do all you can to keep your body cool. "If you have access to a basement, you can sleep down there, or use fans and cool, wet towels," says Knox. "And if you have air conditioning, turn it on!"

Fatigue
Heat compounds the fatigue you feel when pregnant, so take some time-outs. "Don't try to go full steam on those super steamy summer days," says Douglas. "Plan to slow your pace and -- if you can swing it -- schedule the occasional midday siesta for you and your baby-to-be." The finishing touches in the nursery can wait -- your newborn will never know the differences.

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Mind & Spirit

Beat the heat tips for expecting moms

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