How Do I Deal With Pregnancy in the Summer Heat?

Medically Reviewed on 8/30/2021
When you're dealing with a summer pregnancy, it's important to limit activities that raise your core temperature.
When you’re dealing with a summer pregnancy, it’s important to limit activities that raise your core temperature.

The heat of summer can be uncomfortable for many people. But when you’re pregnant, summer heat waves can easily turn into overheating. This can lead to health risks for you and your baby. 

How can summer heat affect your pregnancy?

Body changes during pregnancy can raise your body temperature slightly. This is normal. But if your body temperature is raised to an abnormally high temperature (hyperthermia), it may be dangerous for you and your baby.

Your baby’s heat balance is entirely dependent on how your body regulates temperature. When you’re pregnant, your core body temperature shouldn’t go above 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius). Temperatures this high and higher can make you feel unwell and affect your baby’s development. 

Studies have found that women with heat exposure in their first trimester of pregnancy had a higher risk of having babies with neural tube defects, which damage a baby’s spinal cord and backbone.

Early studies suggest that exposure to extreme heat may be associated with a higher risk of congenital heart defects and preterm births.

When you’re pregnant, it’s important to limit activities that raise your core temperature. These include extreme exercise, saunas, and hot tubs. There have been few studies on the effect of hot yoga (Bikram yoga) on pregnancy. But doctors don’t recommend it if you’re pregnant.

Summer heat and pregnancy swelling

When you’re dealing with a summer pregnancy, heat can be constant and exhausting. You’re already dealing with pregnancy swelling, thanks to fluid retention. Warm weather can make this worse.

To cope with swelling, you should:

  • Eat less salt. Salt can increase water retention.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You may want to wear shoes that are a half or full size bigger. 
  • To help with swollen feet, rest with your feet up.  
  • Call your doctor if your swelling is excessive or is associated with a bad headache.

Summer pregnancy heat and skin sensitivity

Changing hormone levels during pregnancy can cause your body to produce excess melanin. This is the pigment that gives color to your hair, eyes, and skin. It may darken existing moles and freckles. It may also cause dark patches to form on your face and chest (chloasma). 

Sun exposure may make this pigmentation worse. Always use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when going outdoors.


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How to beat the summer heat when pregnant

Here are some ways to help you cool down during a summer pregnancy:

  • Avoid being in the sun during the hours of 11am to 3pm.
  • Keep a water bottle with you and regularly sip water throughout the day. When you’re pregnant, you should drink 8 to 12 cups (64 to 96 ounces) of water a day. 
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat or carry an umbrella for shade. 
  • A quick way to cool down is to wet a washcloth and place it on your neck. Run cool water over your arms.
  • Take a lukewarm shower. A cold shower may cause your body to generate more heat.
  • Carry a spray bottle of water. Use it to mist your face and neck when you’re feeling hot. 
  • Use a portable battery-operated fan or folding fan to cool yourself down.
  • The heat index combines temperature and humidity. When it goes over 90, try to stay indoors or in the shade.
  • If you have access to a swimming pool, the water will cool you down. It may even relieve your back pain.

Exercising in the summer heat during pregnancy

When you exercise, your metabolic rate increases, and your body produces more heat. Exercising in hot weather can lead to heat exhaustion.

You don’t need to completely avoid exercising outdoors when you’re pregnant. Take some precautions, including:

  • Avoid Exercising During Mid-day: The hottest time of the day is from 11am to 3pm. If you plan on exercising outdoors, try to avoid this time slot.
  • Wear Light Clothing: Bright and light colors reflect sunlight and help keep you cool. Wearing clothes made of cotton will help you stay dry.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your exercise. ‌
  • Listen to Your Body: Take a break or dial down the intensity of your workout if the heat is too much for you. 

Know the warning signs of heat-related illnesses

The warning signs of heat exhaustion include:

If you think you’re experiencing heat exhaustion:

  • Move to a cool area
  • Loosen your clothes
  • Sip some water
  • Take a cool bath or put cool wet cloths on your body 

The signs of heat stroke are:

What to do:

  • Call 911 immediately
  • Move to a cooler place
  • Don’t drink water

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Medically Reviewed on 8/30/2021

American Family Physician: “Exercise During Pregnancy.”

British Journal of Sports Medicine: “Heat stress and fetal risk. Environmental limits for exercise and passive heat stress during pregnancy: a systematic review with best evidence synthesis.”

Canadian Family Physician: “Hot yoga and pregnancy.”

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: “Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness.”

Environmental Health Perspectives: “Taking the Heat: Potential Fetal Health Effects of Hot Temperatures.”

JAMA: “Maternal heat exposure and neural tube defects.”

Penn Medicine: “8 Tips for Working Out in the Heat.”

University of Rochester Medical Center: “Keep Cool: Hot-Weather Tips for Pregnant Women.”