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Parent's Corner

Surviving a Summertime Pregnancy

By: Pamela Brill

It feels like 1,000 degrees outside, your feet are swollen and your belly is sweating in places you didn’t think were possible. If you’re pregnant during the summer months, you know firsthand how uncomfortable that feeling can be. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

With some helpful suggestions from medical experts, a dietician and a stylist, you’ll know how to dress, how to protect your sensitive skin, what to eat and drink and how to keep your cool until Labor Day.

Outdoor Exercise; Safe Sunning

Summer breezes are beckoning you outside, but if you will be exercising during your pregnancy, be careful not to overexert yourself. “In the first trimester in particular, it is recommended to keep core temperatures from getting too high,” says Dr. James Betoni, a maternal fetal doctor in Boise, Idaho and creator of the Pregnancy Power app (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pregnancy-power/id1071286759?mt=8). As a result, it’s best to stay away from saunas and hot tubs during this period, and don’t exercise to an extreme. “During low-level exercise, blood pressure and pulse responses are not dramatically different from those in non-pregnant women, but fatigue may be noticed earlier,” he adds.

Naturally, if you’ll be spending extended periods of time outdoors, you’ll want to protect your sensitive skin. “Expectant moms tend to have excellent skin turnover which gives them a bright and fresh face, but they also have lots of pigment activity,” notes Dr. Michael Swann, a Springfield, Mo.-based dermatologist (www.swanndermatology.com). He recommends applying mineral-based sunscreens every day and if you opt for a liquid sunscreen, steer clear of chemical-based formulas.

If you do end up getting a sunburn, treat the affected skin with zinc and titanium-based sunscreen. “Ibuprofen can actually make many people more sun-sensitive, so I usually recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) for the pain,” he says.

Dress to De-Stress

Sultry, humid weather can wreak havoc on all body types, especially pregnant women in later trimesters. To feel more comfortable, New York City stylist Laura Solin-Valdina (www.nycstylist.com)  suggests dressing in cool fabrics: natural fibers like cotton that breath easily and silk, “for its luxurious feel and appearance.” If you don’t mind wrinkles, linen is another comfortable and airy choice.

Sensible footwear is also a must for pregnant women in need of extra support. One of this season’s hottest trends, sandal flatforms, are perfectly designed with expectant moms in mind. “The soles are usually made of rubber and the added thickness offers that much needed extra cushioning,” she says. “Designers of all price points are offering multiple options, but steer clear of flatforms with skinny straps, as your feet with undoubtedly swell and the fewer points of tension, the better!”

Eating Right

Summertime eating means plenty of grilled favorites, ice cream and other warm weather treats, but don’t skimp on the healthy options, too. “Pregnant women should continue to eat a diet that is balanced in protein, fat, healthy carbs and a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to ensure they are meeting their nutritional needs,” says Claire Shorenstein, a New York City-based certified dietician-nutritionist (www.b-nutritious.com). She praises fruits and vegetables as rich sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber in meals and on-the-go snacks. “If it’s too hot to turn on the stove or you are too tired to cook, try a salad with an assortment of raw veggies, nuts or seeds, your favorite protein source and a Dijon vinaigrette,” offers Shorenstein.

Staying hydrated is especially important in hot weather, but even plain water can become a bit ho-hum. “Spice things up by infusing a large jug of ice water with your favorite sliced fruit, veggies and/or herbs,” suggests Shorenstein. She advises limiting sugary, non-alcoholic drinks like soda, juice and mocktails to special occasions.

And if you’ll be attending any backyard BBQs this summer, go right ahead and enjoy grilled meats, poultry and fish (avoid swordfish and other high-mercury choices). And of course, don’t forget about dessert. “It’s okay to have a treat—ice cream has calcium—but portion control your indulgences to prevent gaining too much weight,” she adds.