Summer is barely upon us, and already I’m complaining. Sure, I love the warm evenings when dusk stretches out until after ten o’clock. I love the tree-lined streets bursting with green, the flowers blooming like fireworks in the backyard, the distant rumbling that precedes a good storm. I love the cloudless, breezy days you’d give anything to experience during the frigid doldrums of February. But… I’m hugely pregnant with baby number two, which means I have a love-hate relationship with summer.
During my first pregnancy, I spent the height of first-trimester misery in the stifling heat of August. Oh, the smells. Our historic 1900s-era duplex gave off a musty, mildewed scent I couldn’t escape. Every time I went for a walk, I ended up nauseated from freshly mowed lawn or food trucks. Even the fragrant wildflowers in our neighbor’s yard were too sickly sweet for my delicate nostrils. Needless to say, we stayed away from the State Fair that summer.
Now, well into my third trimester, summer brings a different sort of misery. Once the temps hit 85, I find myself dreaming of December snow. Escaping the heat has become a near obsession. Outside, I’ll go out of my way to take advantage of every square inch of shade, even if that means weaving across the sidewalk like a drunken sailor. Parking lots pose a special dilemma: Is it worth it to pick a spot in the shade if that means a farther walk to the door? Trudging (or, more accurately, waddling) even a few extra meters beneath the relentless sun can feel like running a marathon.
There’s no shame in admitting it: Summer is the worst season to spend pregnant.
Nonetheless, I’m committed to getting through the muggy months ahead, and perhaps even enjoying them. If you’re in the same boat, here are some tips for making the most of your summer.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but it won’t help to stay parked on your basement couch in the air conditioning all summer long. That’s a recipe for feeling even more sluggish. Instead, treat yourself to fresh air and sunshine as often as you can. You’ll feel energized — and you’ll appreciate your AC all the more once you do head back inside.
Daily walks with my toddler have gone a long way toward making this last leg of pregnancy more bearable. Even a brief stroll around the neighborhood helps alleviate that beached-whale feeling. And, as a bonus, walking keeps my pelvic pain in check while hitting my (embarrassingly modest) step-tracking goals.
Of course, use common sense. Don’t go for a two-mile walk over lunch in a heat index of 110. Instead, take advantage of mornings or evenings, when the heat is more manageable. And follow all the standard pregnancy advice, like staying hydrated, taking care not to overheat, listening to your body and using sunscreen.
Wear comfortable clothes
My wardrobe these days consists mostly of loose-fitting gym shorts, Dri-Fit tanks and flip-flops. Socks? No way. Even cotton T-shirts are iffy.
This is the time to wear whatever is most comfortable for you — even if it means that cute maternity maxi dress you so painstakingly picked out a few months ago never gets worn because it has too much darn fabric.
And don’t be afraid to wear less. I know, I know…pregnancy is probably the last time in life you want to show some skin. But if anything more than an airy spaghetti-strapped camisole makes you sweat buckets, wear that camisole with pride. You’re pregnant, after all.
(On a related note, embrace the mom bun and consider getting a trim. Why carry around a heavy curtain of heat-trapping hair? Come June, my flat iron takes a four-month sabbatical, and extra hair ties take up permanent residence on my wrist.)
If you’re still in the grips of morning sickness, eating lightly might not be a problem for you; eating at all is probably a struggle. But if you’re further along, your appetite may be exploding while your available stomach space cruelly shrinks.
Of course, there’s the usual advice to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. But also try to steer clear of heavier foods that sit in your gut and are difficult to digest. You know, like that chocolate raised donut or bacon-wrapped steak. They may taste wonderful in the moment, but you’ll regret it later, when bloating and heartburn keep you tossing and turning all night.
Opt for healthier choices whenever possible. Instead of soda, sip on sparkling water or iced tea. Snack on raw fruits and veggies instead of processed junk. And, while I’m certainly in no position to deny anyone their ice cream fix (my insatiable sweet tooth means we’re regulars at the Cup and Cone down the road), smoothies can be a satisfying alternative.
The healthier you eat, the better you’ll feel — which means more energy and stamina during this intensely draining time.
Hit the pool (or lake)
Take a break from the heat and from the burdensome pull of gravity, by taking a dip. Few things are more heavenly than floating in the cool, refreshing water of a pool or lake when you’re pregnant — especially during your third trimester. Water has a soothing effect on both body and mind. You’ll likely find near-instant relief from the aches and pains that have been plaguing you for months.
Remember, it won’t last forever
Like the final weeks of pregnancy, these hot summer days might seem endless when you’re in the midst of them, but they’ll be over before you know it. Soon enough, the leaves will be turning and you’ll wake up to the crisp bite of autumn in the morning air. Soon, too, you’ll be holding a precious newborn in your arms — and it will all have been worth it.