Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Baby, It's Hot Out There

When I was pregnant with my first child, it was through a blazing hot summer. I remember spending many hours under the one ceiling fan in the house, sucking on 7-Up ice cubes (one of my cravings during that pregnancy), and trying in vain to feel cooler. Recently, I was out running errands and came across at least five pregnant women...VERY pregnant women. Gosh, my heart went out to them! It's hard enough to keep cool when you're not pregnant, much less when you're walking around feeling like you really are cooking a little bun in an oven!

Right now you're body is working very hard at creating that beautiful new life inside of you, so the massive amounts of energy that it takes to cool your body, too (and keep it that way), can easily leave you feeling sluggish, irritable, and even the victim of heat exhaustion. Even worse, when you are feeling the extreme effects of the heat, so is your baby. That's why, when it's so hot outside AND you're pregnant, it's especially important to find ways to keep cool.

So, what can you do to keep cool? Well, first thing's first. Stay hydrated! Yes, you already feel like you have to pee every 40 minutes and the thought of consuming more liquids is a bit terrifying; but, believe me, it's the right thing to do. First, because your body needs it to replace the fluids that you're losing from sweating. Second, because it's just plain good for you; and, third, dehydration actually increases the body's core body temperature.

The next thing you can do to stay cool is to actually try to not do anything. Be still; try to be active as little as possible during the hottest parts of the day. Do your errands early in the day. Wait until night to do that load of laundry. And, during the afternoon, take a rest near a fan lie down and watch a movie, or catch up on your journaling. Just promise yourself to do so guilt-free! Remember, by taking it easy in the heat, you're actually doing the right thing for your body and your baby.

Third, lower your core body temperature by taking a cool shower or bath. No time for that? Try placing a cold washcloth on the back of your neck. You can even use paper towels if you're away from home and need a quick cool down. Another easy trick that was, and still is, one of my favorites is to sit with your feet in a tub of cool water. You see, our bodies are curious things. When we're cold, the body's reaction is to conserve heat in our core by reducing circulation to our extremities. That's the reason our hands and feet are usually the first to feel the effects of the cold. When we're hot and the body is trying to cool itself, the opposite happens with those extremities. Think about how great it feels to go wading in a cool pond or stream on a hot day. Soaking your feet in a tub of cool water will give you the same feeling. It's amazing how much cooler you'll feel all over if you focus some of that cooling on the right places.

Finally, if you think you may be suffering from heat exhaustion - signs may include headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, and a faint or rapid pulse - contact your health care provider immediately.

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