LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - We're just a few days into summer and boy, is it promising to be a hot one! Tack on an extra 20 to 40 pounds and good luck staying comfortable as the temperatures soar. In this Healthcast, we find out how pregnant women can stay healthy in the heat of summer.
Kara Menard is no stranger to motherhood. She's one month away from welcoming baby number four into the world, but this go round, she says pregnancy feels different. "The heat has really affected the pregnancy," says Kara, "just with errands and going outside and bringing my other three children outside."
OBG-1 Nurse Practitioner Tammy Gillett says the rise in mercury is something that makes pregnant women like Kara much more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. "The biggest complaints we get in the summertime are dizziness, lightheadedness," says Gillett, "they don't feel good, pre-term labor and that's all from dehydration."
During pregnancy, women should drink at least eight cups of water each day. And when it comes to staying cool and comfortable, that added baby weight can make even the most simple tasks unbearable on a hot day. "During pregnancy, you increase your metabolism, your heart rate goes up," says Gillett, "and you are already carrying an extra 1600 cc's of volume. That brings your core temperature up to about 99 to begin with and then in the summer months, it will bring the heat up even more and so you feel more exhausted and miserable."
When it comes to your diet, pregnancy-induced hypertension oftentimes comes along with poor food choices when the temperatures rise. Gillett says, "People have a tendency to eat a little more salt than usual because they're dehydrated, they don't drink as much as they should and they'll come in at the end with elevated blood pressure."
Now with just a few more weeks until Kara's little one is born, she is making some summertime changes to keep herself and baby healthy. "I realize I need to stay inside more," says Kara, "and take a nap and not worry about going outside very much, but it is frustrating...I was excited about the summer and now we have to stay in most of the time."
One more piece of advice if you're pregnant: slather on the sunscreen! Pregnancy hormones make you more sensitive to the sun.