You are here

Finding Your Inner Cool

It's a breezy evening and everyone is wearing light sweaters, but you're still sweating and red-faced in your tank top and maternity shorts. Doesn't anyone else feel how hot it is? Probably not, unless they're pregnant too.

"Feeling hot and sweaty is a real problem for pregnant women, especially during the summer," says Carol Cooper, M.D., a family doctor in London and author of The Baby & Child Question & Answer Book.

The hormonal changes throughout pregnancy can intensify heat perception and bring on hot flashes, just as hormonal changes do during menopause. And not just during the day: Towards the end of pregnancy, sleep becomes more difficult anyway, says Dr. Cooper, and feeling hot can keep many women awake with drenching "night sweats." So here's our around-the-clock guide to keeping cool during the dog days -- and nights.

8 A.M. to 8 P.M.

  • Stay out of direct sun.A pregnant woman's skin is more susceptible to sunburn, says Dr. Cooper. Even if you normally never burn, be sure to slather on sunblock. And even though wearing a long-sleeve shirt may be the last thing you want to do, a light cotton cover-up will shield your skin and make you feel cooler.
  • Cut back on caffeinated beverages (including that glass of iced tea you were eyeing). Too much caffeine can leave you dehydrated.
  • Drink lots of water. It's crucial that you drink at least eight glasses a day, and preferably a few glasses more, Dr. Cooper says.
  • Moisturize often. Your feet and hands tend to swell up when you're hot -- slathering them with lotion will make them more comfortable.
  • Exercise indoors. The park may be tempting, but stick to the gym.

8 P.M. to 8 A.M.

  • Wear light cotton pajamas, and keep a spare pair under your pillow. If you're sweating a lot, you can switch to the fresh pair without having to get out of bed.
  • Rest your head on a feather or down pillow. Synthetic ones are more likely to steam you up.
  • Cool off with a lukewarm washcloth. Surprisingly, a cold washcloth draped on your forehead will only make you feel worse; the cold constricts blood vessels and signals your body to retain heat.
  • Keep a glass of water on the nightstand. Every time you wake up, try to take a sip.