The longer, warmer days of summer make it the perfect season to get outside and explore, or relax and unwind by the pool or at the beach. Barbecues, picnics, fireworks, ice cream, sandals -- it’s no wonder why so many people love the summer – including moms-to-be.
While summertime can be super fun and totally laidback, expectant moms do need to watch themselves and take proper precautions in order to ensure they aren’t overdoing it and putting themselves and the little beans they are carrying in danger. The heat, humidity, sun, and all of those summer celebrations can pose risks for pregnant women and their babies.
Pregnancy is a super delicate time, which means that soon-to-be moms are more prone to sustaining injuries or experiencing adverse effects when they partake in things that they normally would do during the summer season when they aren’t pregnant.
Just because you’re pregnant during the summer, it doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on all the fun, but it does mean that you should take extra precautions and be mindful of your activities. Here’s a look at 20 things that have the potential to become dangerous during the summer when you have a bun in the oven.
20 Soaking Up The Rays
Getting a sun-kissed glow is the goal of many during the summer season, but if you’re expecting, you really should limit your exposure to the sun.
Why? Because your skin is more sensitive to the sun when you’re pregnant, thanks to heightened hormone levels.
You’re at a great risk for developing sunburn quicker than you normally would. Sunbathing can also increase the chances of developing chlosma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy”, which is marked by blotchy, brown patches of skin on your cheeks, nose, upper lip, and forehead. Needless to say, it’s unsightly and it may or may not lighten after you give birth.
In addition to skin woes, sunbathing also increases your internal body temperature and can lead to dehydration. To avoid these problems, limit the time you spend in the sun. Seek out shady areas, and make sure you wear proper protection when you are exposed to UV rays.
19 Sipping On Summer Cocktails
Summer is the perfect time to imbibe in some tasty adult libations, but if you’re pregnant, you really need to skip those cocktails and trade them in for mocktails.
It’s pretty much common knowledge, but drinking alcohol during pregnancy is a big no-no. Drinking excessively can increase the risk for FASD. And while you might think that just one drink will be fine, researchers aren’t really sure if any amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. It’s far better to err on the side of caution and skip the adult beverages not matter how hot it is outside.
18 Fad Food Restrictions Of Any Kind
Summertime means skimpier clothes and bathing suits, and who wants to show off their body when they’re packing a few extra pounds?
While fad diets may be a quick way to lose weight when you aren’t pregnant, when you are, you really need to avoid them at all costs. Whether you’re cutting out carbs or seriously reducing your calorie intake, dieting can be super dangerous when you’re expecting. You could be limiting the valuable nutrients your developing baby needs to grow, which will not only affect his or her health but will affect your health, too! Plus, when you’re expectant, you’re going to gain weight and get round in the middle; it’s just a fact of nature! Why not embrace your beautiful pregnant body?
If you do want to modify your diet, try cutting out processed foods and sticking to all-natural things, like fruits, veggies, dairy, and lean meats.
17 High-Intensity Workouts
Being active is always important, even when you’re pregnant. It reduces your risk of gaining too much weight, lowers the chances of developing gestational diabetes, eases aches and pains, and can even help make labor a bit easier, says the American Pregnancy Association. However, while exercise may be beneficial when you’re expecting, high-intensity workouts aren’t recommended, particularly during the summer months.
The harder you workout, the more you sweat, and the more you sweat, the greater the chances of getting dehydrated will be. Add in the intense heat of the summer and your risk of dehydration is even greater. You don’t have to skip the workouts completely, but try to stick to exercises that aren’t super strenuous, like swimming or walking.
16 Getting Too Hot
Summer isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. One of the biggest drawbacks of this time of the year is the intense heat that comes with it. When the temperatures soar, it’s no fun for anyone. However, for pregnant women, getting too hot is more than just uncomfortable; it can lead to serious complications.
Dehydration is one of the biggest side effects of overheating, but there are other issues that can arise. Hyperthermia (the opposite of hypothermia) occurs when your internal body temperature goes above 102° Fahrenheit, says KidsHealth.org. If your core temperature is that high even just for 10 minutes, your baby can suffer serious consequences, such as delayed growth and neural tube defects. So, mamas-to-be, make sure you are cautious in the heat and take frequent cool-down breaks.
15 Partying Too Hardy
Graduations, Independence Day celebrations, backyard barbecues, and parties just because, hey, it’s summer, so why not? There are so many reasons to celebrate in the summer, but partying too much is definitely not a good thing when you’re pregnant.
Dancing up a storm and staying out too late can actually have negative effects on your body. If you’re hitting the dance floor too hard, you could strain a muscle, and let’s be honest, you don’t want to add to the pain that your pregnancy is already causing. And staying up too late can compound the pregnancy symptoms you are experiencing, simply because lack of sleep makes everything more difficult the next day.
Go ahead and enjoy those summer parties, but try to restrain your inner party animal while you’re carrying bun in your oven.
14 Camping In The Great Outdoors
Sometimes cutting back to basics and spending time in the great outdoors is exactly what the doctor ordered; however, it might be best to put off hitting the campground when you’re pregnant. Unsteady footing, sleeping on the hard ground, bugs, and sun aren’t things that are really conducive to pregnancy.
What happens if you trip over a tree root while you’re hiking? Can you imagine the aches and pains you’ll experience after spending the night in a sleeping bag on the ground? Even if you glamp and slumber on a raised air mattress, you aren’t going to have the support you need – and imagine trying to get up off of one of those things?!?
The most dangerous part of camping when you’re pregnant? – The bugs. Many carry diseases; you can contract Zika virus from mosquitoes. This virus can be passed on to the baby and can potentially cause severe birth defects, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So maybe instead of camping in the wilderness, consider camping out in your living room.
13 Digging Into The Barbecue
There’s nothing better than firing up the grill and sinking your teeth into a juicy hamburger or a perfectly seared hot dog when you’re pregnant (I like mine super crisp) in the summer. But when you’re pregnant, you may want to pass on the barbecue.
A study published in the Nutrition Journal found that consuming barbecued foods can have a significant impact on the baby’s body weight. This study found that babies born to mothers who ate barbecued meats during the third trimester weighed less than newborns of mothers who didn’t; about a whole pound less! So maybe skip the grilled meats at those summer barbecues and stick to the sides. If you can’t resist steaks, burgers, and ribs, consider preparing them in the oven and bringing them with you.
12 Those Annoying Insect Bites
Bug bites are a pain even when you’re not pregnant; nobody wants to deal with an itchy rash or a painful sting. But for pregnant women, insect bites can be more than just a nuisance; they can be downright dangerous.
I already mentioned the Zika virus, which mosquitoes can carry, and how it can cause severe birth defects. They aren’t the only pests that can cause complications. Ticks, particularly deer ticks, which are infamous for carrying Lyme disease, can also cause serious problems for the fetus. The March of Dimes reports that if Lyme disease is contracted and isn’t treated during pregnancy, it can cause nerve, heart, brain, and spinal cord damage.
Use insect repellents whenever you’re outside to keep those critters and the diseases they carry far away.
11 Letting Yourself Get Dehydrated
Sizzling temperatures and blazing sun can easily zap your body of vital hydration. Add in any amount of activity – even minor amounts – and your risks of getting dehydrated are even greater.
Dehydration happens when your body loses water at a rapid rate, and it can pose serious complications during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, dehydration can lead to several severe issues, such as decreased levels of amniotic fluid and neural tube defects. It can also spark contractions that can result in pre-term labor.
To avoid these complications, make sure you always have a bottle nearby during the summer – and don’t forget to drink it! A minimum of 8 glasses of H2O per day is recommended.
10 Hitting The Beach
Going to the beach is the quintessential summertime activity. When the temperatures spikes, the cool surf is so refreshing. But going to the beach during pregnancy can be problematic.
Big waves can knock you down, and if you land hard on your belly, your baby could suffer (not to mention the fact that you’ll probably be in pain). The water can also be contaminated by fecal matter (gross!), pesticides, and fuel from boats, which can cause of a host of health issues that could potentially harm your baby. Plus, excessive exposure to the sun isn’t a good thing. Not only are you at a great risk for developing sunburn when you’re pregnant, but UV rays can decrease folic acid levels, which can increase the risk of birth defects, reports Science Daily.
If you are going to hit the beach, make sure you take the necessary precautions to avoid complications.
When you pull on a bathing suit, the last thing you want is to have any stray hairs “down there” exposed. Talk about embarrassing! What’s the most effective way to tame the bikini line? – Waxing, of course! But when you’re pregnant, getting waxed may not be the best idea.
While waxing is considered safe during pregnancy, there are some issues that may arise. Your increased fluid levels may make it more painful. Also, if you go to a salon that has questionable health practices (reusing applicators or wax, for example), you could be at risk for developing an infection, which could potentially lead to health issues for you and your baby.
If you are going to wax, make sure you go to a salon that has a stellar reputation. Or, a better idea might be to skip waxing altogether and opt for a razor to trim those stray hairs.
8 Hitting The Hiking Trail
Exercise is highly recommended during pregnancy, and walking is one of the safest – and easiest – exercises that a pregnant woman can do. But hiking may be another story.
There’s nothing more exhilarating than walking for a long stretch of woods or along a rocky mountain. But when you’re expecting, you’re more susceptible to experiencing issues when you’re hiking. Your expanding waistline throws your center of gravity off, which could increase your risk of falling. Walking for extended periods of time, especially if it’s hot and sunny, increases the chances of becoming dehydrated. And, depending on where you’re hiking, you could also come into contact with nasty disease-carrying bugs.
If hiking is something that you really want to do, make sure you use your best judgment, take precautions, and don’t overdo it.
7 Sipping on Iced Lattes
When you need an afternoon (or morning) pick-me-up in the summer, an iced latte, coffee, or any other iced caffeinate beverage seems like the perfect solution. It’s cool, refreshing, and gives puts the pep back in your step. However, if you’re expecting, you really need to shy away from those icy caffeinated drinks.
According to Dr. Sears, consuming caffeine during pregnancy can cause several problems for the unborn baby, such as increased heart rate and birth defects. Consuming high amounts of caffeine during the first trimester can also increase the risk of miscarriage or result in low birth weight. Plus, caffeine is a diuretic, so drinking too much of it can result in dehydration, which, as I’ve already mentioned, can cause a number of complications.
Instead of sipping those iced cappuccinos or lattes, try taking a nap when you feel like you are dragging.
6 Any Amount Of Yard Work
Planting flowers, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, along with sowing veggies and fruits; there’s a lot of yard work that needs to be done during the summer months. While working in the yard is therapeutic and a great form of exercise (not to mention the fact that it spruces up your home’s curb appeal), too much yard work can be dangerous when you’re pregnant.
No matter what time of the year you’re tending to your yard, you get hot and sweaty. In the summer, you get even hotter and sweatier; plus, you’re exposed to more intense UV rays. All of these things can increase your risk of overheating, becoming dehydrated, and getting sunburned – all of which can be detrimental for you and your unborn baby.
5 Sporting The Seemingly Comfy Sandals
Sandals are the go-to foot attire for the summer. They keep your feet cool, and they look so darn cute! But the problem with sandals is that many of them don’t offer any type of support, which can cause problems.
The lack of support can lead to severe pain in your feet, ankles, legs, hips, and lower back. In addition to the pain, they can also increase the risk of tripping and falling. Lastly, unsupportive shoes can make feet swell, which is already a problem that many pregnant women experience. So while flip-flops and gladiator sandals may be super stylish, it’s better to opt for supportive footwear.
4 Flying The Friendly Skies
Summer is the most popular time of the year for traveling. Whether you’re looking to explore a Caribbean island, go on a European tour, or even travel domestically, if your summer holiday plans involve flying, you may want to reconsider.
Flying is usually deemed safe prior to the 36th week of pregnancy; however, it could pose certain risks. For instance, if you’re experiencing complications, flying could aggravate them, resulting in the need for emergency medical treatment, which is often not available while you’re on board a plan. Even if your pregnancy has been progressing just fine, flying could still be dangerous. In fact, your healthcare provider may urge you to avoid boarding an airplane, and some airlines restrict air travel during the later stages of pregnancy, reports the Mayo Clinic.
3 Hitting The Hot Tub
Soaking in a hot tub might seem like the ideal way to relax those sore, aching muscles when you’re pregnant. While sure, it can certainly be soothing, but using a hot tub during pregnancy is not recommended.
What’s the problem? – Well, the high water temperature can drastically increase your core temperature, which may already be heightened as a result of the hot summer weather. This can lead to hyperthermia (a body temperature that’s 104° or higher), which can increase the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
While using a hot tub might be relaxing and soothe your aches and pains, it’s just not worth the potential damage it could cause for your baby.
2 Thrill Rides
You’ve got your season pass for an amusement park or there’s a carnival in town and you want to enjoy the thrills of all the rides, but before if you’re pregnant, you may want to think twice before strapping yourself into a roller coaster or any other type of thrill ride.
One of the reasons thrill rides are so, well, thrilling, is because of the jarring forces and rapid speeds, but it’s exactly those things that make them dangerous for pregnant women. Excessive force and high speeds put a strain on the body, which could potentially affect the uterus, the placenta, and the unborn baby. That’s probably why amusement parks post warnings for pregnant women on those death-defying rides.
1 Treating Yourself To Gel Pedicures
After your feet have been cooped up in closed-toed shoes for so long, they desperately need some TLC before you dare to show them off during the summer. A pedicure is the perfect way to get your feet summer-ready. Plus, it’s super relaxing.
If you want your toes to look great for as long as possible, you might be considering a gel pedicure. Gel pedicures definitely last longer and create a super smooth look. However, there are definite drawbacks to a gel pedicure that can make them dangerous for a pregnant woman. The gels that are used to paint your nails contain toxins, which could possibly be absorbed through the skin and impact the baby. Plus, a UV lamp is used to set the gel, which if you get a lot of these pedicures, could impact your folic acid levels.
You don’t have to give up the pampering or sacrifice the look of your feet; just nix the gel and go for a traditional pedicure instead.