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Summer safety for mom-to-be

When the warm, sunny days of summer arrive, the great outdoors is hard to resist. But when you’re pregnant, summer’s sun and fun, heat and humidity can pose added dangers to you and your baby. Before you plunge into summer, follow these precautions:

Keep your cool. Overheating (a body temperature higher than 101° F) can have damaging effects on your baby. To beat the heat, stay in air-conditioning and seek the shade when outdoors. Avoid the sun during the most intense hours—generally about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Wear sun protection. Pregnant or not, sunscreen protects your skin from premature aging and skin cancer. But the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can make your skin particularly sun sensitive and prone to burning and blotching called melasma, or the “mask of pregnancy.” In addition, some studies have linked ultraviolet rays to a folic acid deficiency—a condition that can predispose your baby to birth defects. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply it often—especially after swimming or excessive sweating.

Drink up. Because hot weather can deplete your fluids, make sure you drink at least six to eight glasses of water or other noncaffeinated beverages a day. What’s more, watch for signs of dehydration—dizziness, nausea, headaches and muscle cramps.

Dress coolly. Light-colored, loose-fitting clothes made from breathable fabrics like cotton will allow air to circulate around your skin, helping to keep you cool and prevent skin rashes.

Exercise carefully. While exercise is important for both you and your baby during pregnancy, take precautions when the temperature soars. If you can, exercise indoors in air-conditioning and pay attention to when you’re feeling tired or overheated. As your pregnancy progresses, consider taking your exercise routine down a notch. For instance, instead of jogging, try walking or swimming (a great low-impact exercise for pregnant women) to reduce the risk of raising your body temperature too high. Drink plenty of fluids and wear cool, comfortable clothes and properly fitting shoes. Both pregnancy and warm weather can cause feet to swell—a double whammy.

Avoid amusement park rides. All the sudden starts and stops and jerky movements can—at least theoretically—cause the placenta to detach from the uterine wall. Save the thrill rides for after delivery. Once the baby comes, you’ll be on a roller coaster all your own.