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Summer with the baby bump. Beating the heat and staying healthy
Summer with the baby bump. Beating the heat and staying healthy

Summer with the baby bump. Beating the heat and staying healthy

Date: June 20, 2022

Pregnancy is a period as wonderful as it is delicate, a very important step in a woman's life, which certainly needs special attention. Especially in the summer, pregnant women sometimes get very hot and sweat more than normal. This also happens because of the progesterone(the "pregnancy" hormone), which causes an increase in body temperature. Let's see together in the course of this article how to best face the summer with the baby bump with practical tips to overcome the heat.

Safe summer for mom and baby

In the summer, heat can pose a real risk to a pregnant woman. However, it is possible to take several precautions to protect your health and that of the baby you are carrying.

Remember that the body undergoes a series of physiological changes during this sweet period, including increased maternal blood flow to ensure proper blood supply to the placenta. In this regard, the fundamental role of hydration should not be underestimated : through sweating, certainly more profuse due to the summer heat, large quantities of liquids and mineral salts are lost, very precious for the balance of the mother and the fetus. Through water and food, however, we can guarantee a good level of hydration, BEFORE perceiving the stimulus of thirst. There are many risks associated with dehydration: muscle cramps, dizziness, palpitations, lowering of blood pressure and an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections.

Make sure you drink enough, replenish lost fluids, and consume fresh, water-rich foods (such as fruits and vegetables). Furthermore, it is good to avoid the consumption of tea and coffee, which contain caffeine or theine and which can increase dehydration, as well as being exciting substances, the consumption of which is not recommended during pregnancy.

Several studies also suggest that during heat waves it is possible to increase premature births: heat, in fact, can increase the level of some hormones that are able to induce contractions, resulting in premature births. Even those suffering from chronic diseases or pathologies of pregnancy (such as high blood pressure or gestational diabetes) can run the risk of premature birth: be careful not to expose yourself to the heat in the middle of the day and in crowded places, to avoid sudden drops in blood pressure and energy and protect you better.

A note should also be made on the choice of destination for the essential summer holidays: sea, mountain or lake? In reality, the destination does not matter much, but especially from the 7th month onwards you have to plan your holidays thinking very carefully about the type of trip you intend to tackle. Transport is especially critical, and it is good to choose the vehicle that suits you best, giving priority to fast transport and to reduce travel, to avoid exhaustion. The plane carries no additional risk, but some airlines require you to see a medical certificate if you intend to fly beyond 36 weeks.

Practical advice

Now let's try to summarize by points what are some practical advice, even if already heard, to allow you to live in serenity and sheltered from excess temperatures this summer period if you are pregnant:

  • Drink at least 2 liters of water a day;
  • Limit your consumption of carbonated and sugary drinks;
  • Eat light, water-rich meals;
  • Make sure you are storing the foods you consume correctly;
  • Get enough rest;
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, preferring cotton or linen and avoiding high heels;
  • Take baths and showers with lukewarm water, while bathing your face and arms with cool water;
  • Avoid going out during the hottest hours of the day;
  • Try to expose yourself to the sun only in the cooler hours, always using protective creams;
  • Slow down the pace of daily life as much as possible, even taking a few naps;
  • Do adequate physical activity: find out more HERE on this aspect.

Micronutrients essential for the health of mother and child

Proper nutrition is essential during this delicate period: it is necessary to pay particular attention to the increased needs of Protein, calcium, iron, folate and water.

Try not to consume raw or undercooked foods of animal origin and raw fruits and vegetables if not carefully washed, as they can expose mother and baby to dangerous food poisoning. Also pay attention to the correct storage of food, because the consumption of improperly stored foods can promote the risk of gastroenteritis, which is particularly dangerous in this phase of life.

And what role does integration play during pregnancy?

Between vitamins and minerals, expectation certainly requires increased amounts of calcium (at least 200mg per day for the growth of the fetal skeleton or otherwise the mother's bone reserves will be drawn), iron (and the needs in pregnancy are doubled compared to a adult woman), folate (whose supplementation is essential from the first trimester), vitamins B1 , B2, B12 and vitamin A.

It is therefore necessary to enrich one's diet with foods rich in calcium such as milk, yogurt or green leafy vegetables, some fish and a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. In some cases, specific integration may be necessary: ​​this must be established on the basis of individual clinical evaluation, which also provides for constant monitoring by dedicated professionals.

Several studies also underline the importance of the correct intake of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a polyunsaturated fatty acid of the Omega-3 series, both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding for the well-being of the baby. AOGOI, the Association of Italian Hospital Obstetricians and Gynecologists, recommends supplementing with DHA from the fourth month of pregnancy up to at least weaning. The constant intake of this nutrient results in an improvement in the functionality of the baby's brain and retina. The central nervous system is rich in Omega-3 and 6, and in particular in DHA: its concentration influences the correct neurological development of the fetus during pregnancy and especially in the third trimester, a phase in which 70% of brain cells develop.

Some false myths ...

Let us now point out some false beliefs.

IT IS NOT TRUE that during pregnancy it is necessary to eat "for two". Energy needs are certainly greater, but not so high as to justify this belief. Food must focus above all on the quality of raw materials, not on quantity.

IT IS NOT TRUE that by eating good quantities of fruit and vegetables supplementation with folic acid is not necessary: ​​to prevent malformations the necessary quantities are particularly high, to the point that they are difficult to reach with food alone. Supplementing folic acid in combination with a healthy and balanced diet is certainly the most efficient preventive strategy, essential for the health of the child.

It is true, on the other hand, that particular attention must be paid to one's needs, the quality of the food to be consumed, hydration and the prevention of heat stroke. As Napoleon Bonaparte said: " The future of a child is the work of his mother ".

 

Bibliography

Sexton J, Andrews C, Carruthers S, Kumar S, Flenady V, Lieske S. Systematic review of ambient temperature exposure during pregnancy and stillbirth: Methods and evidence. Environ Res. 2021 Jun;197:111037. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111037. Epub 2021 Mar 26. PMID: 33781772.

Lin Y, Hu W, Xu J, Luo Z, Ye X, Yan C, Liu Z, Tong S. Association between temperature and maternal stress during pregnancy. Environ Res. 2017 Oct;158:421-430. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.06.034. Epub 2017 Jul 6. PMID: 28689033.

Zhang Y, Yu C, Wang L. Temperature exposure during pregnancy and birth outcomes: An updated systematic review of epidemiological evidence. Environ Pollut. 2017 Jun;225:700-712. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2017.02.066. Epub 2017 Mar 9. PMID: 28284544.

Brown B, Wright C. Safety and efficacy of supplements in pregnancy. Nutr Rev. 2020 Oct 1;78(10):813-826. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuz101. Erratum in: Nutr Rev. 2020 Sep 1;78(9):782. PMID: 31925443; PMCID: PMC7558284.

Cox JT, Phelan ST. Nutrition during pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2008 Sep;35(3):369-83, viii. doi: 10.1016/j.ogc.2008.04.001. PMID: 18760225.

Konkel L. Hot Temperatures during Pregnancy: Evidence for an Impact on Fetal Growth. Environ Health Perspect. 2020 Mar;128(3):34002. doi: 10.1289/EHP6169. Epub 2020 Mar 6. PMID: 32141773; PMCID: PMC7137909.

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