What you can do to minimize your risks.
There are a lot of reasons to love summer—long days, bright sun, warm temperatures—but sometimes, when those temps rise too high, it can be dangerous...especially for pregnant women.
"Basically when it's very hot outside, it's very easy for pregnant women to get dehydrated," Jonathan Schaffir, MD, Associate Professor in the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Ohio State University's Wexler Medical Center, told Fit Pregnancy. Since this summer is supposed to be a scorcher, it's important for pregnant women to understand the risks—and since summer is a thing to enjoy, it's also important that they learn the best ways to stay safe while still soaking up a bit of sun (after applying SPF, of course!).
According to Dr. Schaffir, pregnant women are more susceptible to dehydration. "Especially further along in pregnancy—that increased tissue inside [makes it] harder for them to dispel heat because they are are keeping all that heat inside their [larger-than-normal] pregnant bodies."
Physical size isn't the only thing that can up a pregnant woman's odds of becoming dehydrated. "Pregnancy causes blood pressure to drop because blood vessels tend to dilate a little more," Dr. Schaffir explained. "When women are upright, especially—if there's not enough fluid in the blood vessels, it doesn't get to the brain enough. That's why pregnant women tend to feel faint more easily than women who are not pregnant."
But does all this mean that pregnant ladies can't enjoy a bit of heat during the warmer months? Not necessarily. It's just a matter of listening to your body. According to Dr. Schaffir, feeling faint or lightheaded is the main sign that you may be dehydrated, but there's another way dehydration could affect your pregnancy. "Women who are pregnant are more likely to have contractions and general aches and pains when they are not well hydrated," he said.
Passing out, pre-term labor and contractions are major risks when pregnant women become dehydrated, according to Dr. Schaffir. Women with placenta previa and anemia need to be especially careful to avoid these issues. How does one do that? Dr. Schaffir said that it's all about hydration. Make sure you're drinking lots of water throughout your pregnancy, especially when you're in a hot place.
"I think women should use their judgement," Dr. Schaffir said, adding that there's no real maximum amount of time that pregnant women are allowed to be outside. "If they start to feel lightheaded and weak and dizzy, they should definitely come in from the heat. With someone who is generally fit and healthy and drinking adequate amounts of water, I think there's no absolute time limit [for heat exposure.]"