As summer starts to settle in, the temperature is rising. I knew this was coming; in fact, all winter long, I was secretly looking forward to the days when all I would have to do was throw on a sundress and sandals and head out into the sunshine. Now, instead of loving the sun warming my skin and the carefree feeling of breezy dresses and lace-free footwear, I cringe at the thought of the two-mile walk to school, start to sweat when faced with bringing in the recycling bins from the curbside or watering the garden, and throw in the towel if I try to postpone my morning wog/walk to after 8am. Summer is hot.
I am now 33 weeks pregnant (translation: 7 weeks to go). While my round and “womanly” protrusions continue to awe and impress me, they are also incredibly in the way: my thighs rub together (Solution: spandex! Result: a stylish look strongly resembling a spandex-clad cake-pop). My chest is eternally sporting some amount of “swoob” (sweat + boob). I think I’m only a degree or so away from being able to cook pancakes on my belly. The slightest hint of “exercise” – a term which has expanded in the past few months to include everything from hanging laundry on our clothesline to weeding from our garden, to swimming, lifting weights or walking – prompts an immediate spike in body temperature, or, perhaps, perceived body temperature, which results in my immediate adornment in a sweat-bead tiara and body “mist.”
People say pregnant women get a “glow,” and let me tell you this: the glow is more like a furnace, trapped inside our round bellies. Ever eaten really, really hot chiles? That is nothing compared with the 24-hour flame that I’m carrying around inside me. While welders and glassblowers keep themselves safe by wearing protective gear, what can a pregnant woman do? A few suggestions:
- Hydrate! Fill your reusable water bottle up and keep sipping at it. Just as you remember from pre-baby habits, pregnant women are recommended to drink 64 fl. oz/day, or 8 cups of water. Juices, milk, coffee and tea also count. It’s a good idea to try to mix up your fluids, as you want to avoid hypernatremia, brought on by too much water diluting your electrolyte stores.
- Be a turtle: hide from the sun (indoors, hat, sunscreen). If possible, try to avoid sun exposure during the middle of the day (10am-4pm), as sunburn risk is highest during these hours, plus we pregnant women are very susceptible to sunspots and melasma (“mask of pregnancy”). Always apply a sunscreen (30spf +), and wear a broad brimmed hat when you are outdoors.
- Keep exercising – wisely. Not surprisingly, swimming has vaulted into my favorite exercise activity slot: the water is cool, I float, I have an awesome maternity suit, and I can forget for a moment that on land I resemble a lumbering elephant. For my “on-land” exercising, I try to walk in the early mornings or late evenings to avoid the heat and sun. Also, I keep up my weight lifting in the nice, air-conditioned gym, and yoga is soothing and feels wonderful. Some movement is critical to keep your circulation up and help prevent blood pooling, swelling, and (vanity comment) those awesome spidery varicose veins. Even though you might want to, don’t ensconce yourself in the squishy chair 12 hours a day!!
- Dress smartly – whether for exercise or regular life. My summer favorites are sun dresses: stretchy, swingy, and yet still presentable, these dresses keep the ventilation going while not constricting movement or blood flow. My favorite.
- Rest! (with your feet up). Probably the best advice for an overheated pregnant woman: take a break! Some days I’ll be working away, happy as can be until I’m struck with a bold of Exhaustion Lightning and drop to the floor. In an effort to prevent these “strikes,” I’m giving myself permission to take a break – sit down, prop my semi-swollen feet and ankles up, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. It’s not always possible for me to take an hour-long nap, but even 5-10 minutes of letting myself “chill out” pays dividends the rest of the day.
- Remember to eat. I love to eat. Love to cook. Love to think about meals and menus. But, this summer, the heat and the exhaustion have robbed me of these pleasures. I’m rarely hungry (very thirsty!), and the only thing that I seem to be able to eat in quantity is fruit, and although fruit is delicious, it’s not the only part of a nutritious diet. So, I have to eat in many, many tiny portions: a piece of toast with peanut butter here, a tiny mini-bowl of cereal with milk. A string cheese. A tomato (yes, just a plain tomato). A half-cup serving of bean salad. An entire pint of mint chip ice cream…. The only way I am able to come near my caloric needs in any kind of balanced manner is to eat often, in small quantities, and to have my husband remove the half watermelon/giant colander of cherries/entire cantaloupe from my grasp and replace it with a half barbequed chicken breast and some veggies (or something else delicious that he’s cooked)!
- Be nice. Being hot and uncomfortable makes me cranky and not nice to be around. I’m blessed with an extremely tolerant husband, who will let me steam and boil and will still give me a hug when I then burst into tears minutes later, or laugh with me when I’m distracted (easily) by a random youtube video or clip from the web that makes light of being pregnant. I find when I’m stewing in a rage over something (anything!), I get hot; so, after long enough, when I realize I’m being irrational, I can calm myself down and “chill out” Simple ways that help me “chill”: watching a funny youtube video, bubbly lemonade, bouncing on an exercise ball, throwing the ball for my dog, laying down for 15 minutes to play Tetris!
- Call your doctor or midwife if you experience dizziness, nausea or undue fatigue, just to be safe.
Any of you all have stay-cool suggestions for a hot mama (to be)? I’d love to hear them!
Just in case you missed the link above, being pregnant does amazing things to your body, and for the first time in my life, I can identify with this clip!