Surviving a Summer Pregnancy

The summer solstice is almost upon us and the mamas that I’m working with are feeling the effects of their elevated blood volume and baby pounds in dealing with the long, hot days of summer.  I come from Memphis, TN, where summer means heat in the 90s and humidity at 90% almost every day and the heat extends late into the evening and even the early morning hours, so I thought maybe I could put together a few tips on how to handle the summer heat while expecting.

Stay hydrated!!!  Easier said than done when you are sweating almost every time you step outdoors.  Pregnant mamas are encouraged to drink at least 64 oz (8 8-oz glasses) of water daily plus additional hydrating fluids for each time you exercise or have a cup of tea or coffee.  That’s a lot of water!  If you are having a hard time staying up on your fluids, one tactic is to try finding a 64 oz container to put in your fridge or office space, refilling it each morning, and making sure you are emptying it each day.  Another option if water doesn’t seem appealing after a while is to make some homemade flavored water with herbs and fruit (cucumber/lemon is a classic, but feel free to experiment – pineapple/mint or watermelon/mint both sound really good and cooling to me).  Just muddle the fruit and herbs a bit, pour your 64 oz of water over it and steep overnight before drinking.  Herbal teas are also a way to ingest more fluids and iced versions are very satisfying in the summer.  I’ve been using my Mist iced tea maker (you put in your herbs, 2 c boiling water and 6 c cold and steep for 2-6 hours in the fridge) to make different herbal iced teas including a pregnancy iced tea with red raspberry leaf, nettle leaf, alfalfa and apricot and a more family-friendly peppermint and chamomile version.  Yum!

Eat cooling foods.  Ayurvedic practitioners would call these foods pitta pacifying – lots of hydrating fresh fruits and vegetables, lower salt, fewer warming spices and more cooling ones (dill, fennel, fresh herbs).  Look at what is in season locally!  Summer is a great time for cold soups like gazpacho, cucumber or watermelon, lightly grilled vegetables like squash, green peppers, tomatoes and zucchini, and summer salads.  I’ve been addicted to making a summer salad for the past few weeks with fresh romaine lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, toasted sunflower seeds, a bit of fresh sheep milk feta and lime vinaigrette.  Last night, I made one with green beans and fresh dill.  During the heat of summer reduce your intake of alcohol, caffeine, and heavy foods, like fried options and cheeses and stick with all of the fresh bounty of summer.  What  a great time to go to your local farmer’s market and explore some new kinds of fruits and vegetables.

Keep exercising, but try to do it earlier or later in the day.  At least here in LA, the temperatures are down early in the morning and after dinner time.  Try starting your day with a vigorous walk or yoga practice outside or enjoy a nice leisurely stroll after dinner.  If you find yourself having to exercise during the heat of the day, definitely do so indoors or go for a swim.  Swimming is great during pregnancy.  The buoyancy of the water can lift the weight of the baby up off of your tired lower limbs and also help the baby have lots of room to move and change positions.

Try incorporating some cooling yoga postures that are great for pregnancy into your day.  Some great options are Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), Upavistha Konasana (Seated Angle), Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose), Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle), Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero’s Pose), and Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall).  If nothing else, try incorporating a short Savasana (Corpse Pose) or time for relaxation into each day.  This will help keep your blood pressure and temperature down.

For comfort, keep some cooling items around your home or office.  You can make a cool face mist out of water and a few drops of peppermint essential oil or water and a bit of fresh aloe and then keep it in your fridge or on your person.   Damp washcloths kept in a cool place can also be helpful.  Worst case scenario, invest in a few cool packs that you can stash in your bag or your car and crack open if you get overheated.

Treat yourself to regular prenatal massages and acupuncture appointments.  Both can help keep the fluids in your body moving and reduce the heat in your body.

Wear light colored clothing made from natural materials like cotton or linen that breathe easily.  Invest in a few sundresses and a good hat.  Try some cute summer updo hairstyles to keep your hair off of your neck.  Consider splurging on a few beauty products that make you feel lovely – a cute clip for your hair, a pedicure and comfy sandals, or a tinted moisturizer and bronzer for your face.

Lastly, and most importantly – take it easy.  Enjoy the long lazy days of summer and allow yourself to move at a slower pace, relax and enjoy the journey of growing your family.

 

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