Being as big and round as a beach ball in hot summer months is not always a walk in the park, as many pregnant people will tell you. The good news is that The Pulse has rounded up a helpful list of some typical summer activities for you to steer clear of so that you can still enjoy a healthy and safe summer pregnancy. Then, we went a step farther and came up with double the number of fun, cool summer activities for pregnant people out there. So, surf’s up, the sun is shining, and it is time to dive right in to a great summer pregnancy.
You might be tempted to continue your usual summer routine, even if you are pregnant. But, especially with recent heatwaves and extreme weather events, it is a good idea to pack an ounce of caution when heading out on summer activities or adventures if you are pregnant. Remember, during pregnancy, it is easier to get dehydrated and suffer from heat exhaustion, both harmful for you and your growing baby. It is time to start training for carrying a stocked diaper bag everywhere with you – so make sure to pack your summer pregnancy go-bag with a full water bottle, sunblock, a hat, and maybe even a battery-powered water-misting mini-fan. Even with the most-tricked out pregnant go-bag, these six summer activities are not safe if you are pregnant this summer:
Not at the top of everyone’s summer to-do list, but definitely something to postpone until after delivery. Skydiving is high-risk, even when you aren’t sporting a bump. With its potential for life-threatening high-impact injuries, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends against skydiving during pregnancy.
Scuba diving is a dangerous sport when pregnant, no matter how experienced a diver you are. Early in pregnancy, your baby’s lungs and placenta are not fully developed. For this reason, your baby cannot adjust to pressure changes if you dive too deep and can get decompression sickness. Later in pregnancy, changes in your body shape make scuba diving more challenging. Snorkeling on the surface is safe during pregnancy, however, if you are a strong swimmer and wear a sun-protective shirt or sunblock in the water.
Sipping frozen alcoholic beverages
Summer and frozen, cooling, refreshing drinks go hand in hand. It can be tempting to go for just a sip of that Frozen Margarita or Dirty Shirley, even with a baby on board. But remember, there is no known safe level of alcohol for a fetus, and even small amounts of alcohol can cause fetal alcohol syndrome and developmental problems.
Setting off fireworks
Beyond the high rates of accidental burns and hand injuries that improperly-handled fireworks can cause, did you know that firecrackers use toxic chemicals such as beryllium and aluminum to create their colorful explosions? Both are known to cause problems for developing babies if ingested by mom. In addition, when fireworks explode, their smoke and fumes contain tiny particles of these toxic chemicals you can inhale and ingest. So, choose to watch fireworks from a safe distance away when pregnant.
Riding a rollercoaster
Who doesn’t love spending long summer days at amusement parks in the summer with family and friends? You can still go to amusement parks while pregnant, but avoid rollercoasters, pendulum rides, free-fall rides, swing rides, spinning rides (including the teacups), bumper cars, water slides, or any rides which cause you to lose your balance. The biggest risk posed by these amusement park rides is placental abruption, which can be a medical emergency for you and your baby.
Attending a large, indoor family reunion, concert, wedding, or party
As much as we would like to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is over, newer, more contagious variants continue to boost case numbers. Pregnant women are at greater risk for more serious complications from COVID-19 infection, including miscarriage, hospitalization, and severe COVID-19 illness. Even if you have already had COVID-19, been fully vaccinated, and been boosted, you can still get these newer variants. Transmission risks are highest in large, indoor group gatherings. Protect yourself and your pregnancy by getting vaccinated, boosted, wearing a mask indoors, and avoiding these big indoor summer gatherings while pregnant.
Don’t get overwhelmed with FOMO after reading the precautionary list above – there are plenty of other safe, fun, cool, and healthy summer activities for pregnant people. Just so you don’t feel like you have to miss out on the summer fun, here is The Pulse’s list of 12 summer activities that pregnant people CAN (and should) make a point to do while pregnant:
Play miniature golf
A sunny day family favorite, this low-impact exercise will put a smile on your face and add to your daily step count. Just be sure to bring plenty of water to drink, comfortable shoes, sunblock, and your competitive spirit!
Go for a refreshing dip swim in a pool, lake, or ocean
Swimming is one of the safest forms of exercise for pregnant people. The water supports your weight, helps you avoid muscle and joint strains, and helps reduce swelling. Aqua aerobics, water running with a flotation belt, and good old lap swimming are all great ways to stay active in hot weather while pregnant.
Buy basketfuls of fresh fruits and vegetables from your local organic farmer’s stand
Farmer’s markets and gardens overflow with deliciously healthy fruits and vegetables in the summer. Take advantage of nature’s bounty to give your growing baby plenty of the best kind of nutrition. Remember, your doctor advises you to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day while pregnant.
Nap in a hammock
Never underestimate the health benefits of a restful nap, especially when pregnant. Research shows that women who nap more during pregnancy are less likely to have a low birth weight baby. Elevating your feet above your heart (like when you lie flat in a hammock) helps blood flow back to your heart and decreases swelling in your feet and legs. Make sure to put a pillow under your right hip or lie on your left side if you are in your second and third trimesters.
Try out some recipes for delicious frozen mocktails
Fortunately, the internet and social media are overflowing with mouth-watering concoctions to try, such as a Frozen Peach Bellini Mocktail, Strawberry Mock Mojito, or a Bahama Mama Mocktail. Your younger children will get such a kick out of being able to share the same fancy drink as mom. Just remember that many of the fruit syrups, frozen fruit, and even frozen drink mixes (limeade, piña colada, or orange juice) can have sky-high sugar levels.
Go to a drive-in movie or outdoor concert
Whether from inside your own car or in front of a backyard movie screen, you can still enjoy the summer’s hottest movies without worrying about indoor COVID-19 risks. Throw down a blanket or pull up a comfortable chair, queue up the projector, and bring on the snacks. Smaller outdoor concerts in fields are a great way to catch some live music without worrying about indoor germs and viruses at indoor venues.
Run through a sprinkler or just sit in a lawn chair with your feet in a kiddie pool
Hard for you to get to a swimming pool or lake? Why not fill a kiddie pool with cold water, grab a chair, and sit with your feet in the water as your kiddo (or dog) splashes around? Or make your kids run circles around you while the sprinkler sprays overhead and you pelt them with water balloons? Is this your first baby? No doubt there are some hot neighborhood kids or even your panting fur-baby puppy who will welcome an invitation to some cool water sprinkler fun with a hot pregnant lady.
Explore a new hike through the shaded woods
Not all hikes have to cover serious distance, climb in elevation, or involve too much exertion, especially when you are pregnant in the summer. Seek out your local nature reserve, land trust property, or other conversation property to find yourself some quiet, cool shade, and some stress-busting nature therapy. Plan your excursions for the coolest parts of the day, before 10 am or after 4 pm to avoid the bright sunshine and overheating. If you live in a city, make a point to find a shady spot in a new park where you can relax with one of the summer’s bestselling novels.
Go to the beach, lake, or swimming pool
Treating yourself (and your hot, swollen legs and feet) to a cool water plunge can be a lifesaver for those pregnant in the hot summer. Follow the same advice as for the hiking above- stick earlier morning or later afternoon excursions, consider investing in a comfortable beach chair and umbrella to create your own sun, and pack plenty of water, ice, and juicy fruits like watermelon to help you stay hydrated. An added benefit is the exercise you will get walking from the parking area to your spot by the water. Make sure to check the weather report ahead of time and consider both the humidity and heat index for the day. Don’t overdo and listen to your body if you start to feel overly tired or hot. Not feeling like a big excursion? You can always soak your feet in a bucket of cold water or take a cool shower with some peppermint body wash to get that delicious water-cooled effect.
Try an outdoor dance or yoga class
Get the two-for-one benefit of exercise-induced endorphins and time in nature to help ease pregnancy stress and anxiety. Dance is a great way to bring motion to sore hips and joints, get your heart pumping, and escape in the joy of good music. Prenatal yoga is good for body and mind, and most yoga positions are safe during pregnancy.
Host or attend an outdoor barbecue
Outdoor dining is the new-normal for COVID-19 times, so take advantage of warmer temperatures to reconnect with friends and family over summer BBQ favorites like hamburgers, hotdogs, grilled chicken, and corn on the cob. Follow The Pulse’s tips to make sure all of your BBQ-fare is thoroughly cooked and safe for you to eat.
Stargaze or look for fireflies
Staring up at a sky full of twinkling distant suns, planets, and galaxies can do wonders for summer pregnancy stress levels. Delight in the childish joy of chasing fireflies through cooling grass fields. Soak up the night air, snuggle up next to your partner, and take time to enjoy the amazing-ness of this world you are about to bring another living being into. Mother nature beats toxic fireworks hands down!
What other ways have you found to enjoy being pregnant in the summer? While being pregnant may prevent your from keeping up with some of your normal summer habits, maybe your summer pregnancy can inspire you to try find a new walk in the woods or finally try an outdoor yoga class. You can stay active and healthy while pregnant, even in hot summer months, by planning ahead, listening to your body, and not pushing yourself too hard. Use your summer pregnancy as an invitation to discover some new and different summer activities to enjoy now and with your child for years to come.