The nine months of pregnancy can be challenging at times and this is especially so for women expecting their baby in the autumn. This is because they will be heavily pregnant during the significantly warmer summer months.
There are of course many advantages of being pregnant during the height of summer − not only is it easier to soak up the vitamin D that you and your developing child need but there is also plenty of ice-cream available for those irresistible cravings!
If you are pregnant during the summer there are also some precautions you should be aware of and here we ask Dr Christina Yu, Consultant in Obstetrics and Fetal Medicine at The Portland Hospital, to explain what these precautions are and how you can enjoy your summer pregnancy.
What challenges might a summer pregnancy bring?
The later stages of pregnancy are rarely a comfortable experience but being heavily pregnant at the height of summer can certainly make keeping cool and getting enough sleep a challenge.
During pregnancy your body temperature will be slightly higher than usual and this, combined with the presence of lighter evenings and warmer nights, may prevent you from sleeping comfortably. Ensuring the bedroom is well ventilated can help to make your evening’s sleep slightly easier, as can wearing loose, cotton night clothing. Try to also make sure you stay well hydrated during the night by consuming plenty of water throughout the day.
Are there any precautions I should take in the summer sun?
One benefit of being pregnant during the summer is that it is warm enough to get out and about and increase your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D can help boost your developing baby’s bone strength and current UK guidance advises pregnant women to take 10mcg of vitamin D a day.
However, whilst bathing in the sun may sound appealing, it is important that pregnant women remember that they may be more sensitive to the sun. They should therefore take precautions to maintain their hydration levels and consider applying a high factor sun cream before venturing out in the sun. This can help to prevent melasma, which is a patch of brown skin that can appear on the face after exposure to the sun.
Are there any foods I should avoid at summer Barbeques?
It is hard to resist the temptation of a summer Barbeque and Barbeque food is no more dangerous to a pregnant woman than anyone else. If the food is undercooked you could, of course, be at risk of food poisoning which can be particularly nasty during pregnancy. You should also be aware that eating undercooked pork and lamb can increase your risk of contracting toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasmosis is an infection that can cause mild flu-like symptoms. If contracted during pregnancy the infection can be passed onto the baby and could lead to health complications such as blindness or even brain damage. For this reason, to be on the safe side, it may be advisable to check that all meat is thoroughly cooked before eating it and, if in any doubt, stick to the vegetarian option.
How else can I enjoy my summer pregnancy?
Women who are heavily pregnant during summer can quickly become hot and subsequently frustrated. Keeping cool and ensuring you get plenty of rest is the best way to enjoy your summer pregnancy and, whilst this can be challenging at times, the following tips might just help you to keep your cool:
1) Consider investing in an electrical fan and using it to cool the bedroom an hour before you go to bed
2) Carry a bottle of facial spray with you for use when you become too hot
3) Wear loose maternity clothing made of lightly coloured natural fibres
4) Stay in the shade, especially during the warmest part of the day and ensure you drink plenty of water throughout the day
5) Bath your feet in tepid water, as it will help to keep you cool and help reduce any swelling
Where can I go for more information?
If you are worried about being pregnant during the summer months, then leading Consultant Obstetricians and Gynaecologists like Dr Christina Yu at The Portland Hospital are available to help. Call us on 020 7580 4400.