Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pregnancy: Keep Cool & Get Exercise with Precautions

Summer isn’t the most fun time to be pregnant – heat and sweat add to the ordinary discomfort of pregnancy, and hormonal changes can make women less able to regulate body temperature. But it’s still important for pregnant women to get healthful exercise, 30 minutes a day, three to four times a week, says Dr. Diane Hughes, an obstetrician/gynecologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“By taking some simple precautions, and knowing the early signs of overheating, pregnant women can maintain their health even through hot weather,” Dr. Hughes said.

Avoiding overheating is especially important in early pregnancy, when the fetus is going through critical developmental stages. For that reason, pregnant women should not use hot tubs or saunas.

Among Dr. Hughes’ tips are:

• Drink plenty of water, about eight to 10 glasses a day. Enjoy cold treats such as frozen fruit pops, but keep an eye out for junk ingredients such as added sugar.
• Consult with your doctor about an exercise plan. If you exercise outdoors, do it in the cool parts of the day.
• Get in the water. Swim, take frequent cool showers or baths, lounge in a kiddie pool, carry a spray bottle to spritz yourself with, or sit with your feet in a basin of cool water.
• Wear loose, light-colored clothing in natural fibers. When exercising, wear clothing that wicks moisture away from skin.
• If you begin to feel bad while exercising, stop. Seek medical help for racing pulse, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, vaginal bleeding, a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or mental confusion.

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