It’s definitely summer here in Houston! The summer heat can be brutal, but it’s especially hard when you’re expecting.

My daughter was born in early September of 2010, which meant by that August, I had the A/C blasting, the blinds closed and the fans on high just to stay somewhat comfortable. And I’m usually always cold. I slept with a box fan blowing on me while my husband had the covers pulled up to his chin.

But being uncomfortable is to be expected during pregnancy. Staying cool is important, but not as much as staying hydrated.

Houston’s sticky, summer heat can quickly lead to dehydration if you aren’t getting enough fluids. But getting enough liquid is even more crucial during pregnancy as insufficient water intake can play a role in constipation, extreme fatigue, headaches… even preterm labor.

During pregnancy, your body needs 8 to 12 8-ounce glasses per day. It’s better to get closer to that 12 glasses mark during the summer or if you exercise often. Yes, that means you’ll have to pee even more often (if that even seems possible!), but you’ll be glad you made the effort.

What water does for you and your baby:

*Helps eliminate waste from the body, transports vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients to blood cells and helps those cells absorb those nutrients.

*Keeps you comfortable by helping your body stay cooler and keeping fatigue at bay

*Keeps excessive water retention under control. While some swelling is expected during pregnancy (and often is worse during the summer), staying hydrated helps it from getting worse.

*Helps with dry skin.

Tips to keep cool and stay hydrated:

*Carry a water bottle with you so you can drink small amounts at a time all day long.

*Wear breathable clothing, such as lightweight t-shirts or flowy dresses

*Run your errands in the morning or afternoon. Avoid being outdoors between noon and 3 p.m. if possible to avoid the hottest part of the day.

*Take a cool shower.

*Go for a swim in the pool. Swimming will not only cool you off, but it’s a great exercise during pregnancy and can also relieve muscle and joint soreness.

*Wear a hat while outside and sit in the shade whenever possible.

If you experience any signs of dehydration, such as excessive fatigue, headache, thirst, dark urine or light-headedness, drink some water and contact your doctor if that doesn’t help your symptoms.

Not a fan of water? I’m usually not either, but there are other ways to get the hydration you need!

Try:

*Sparking or flavored water

*Fruit or vegetable juice (diluted with water to cut down on the calorie and sugar intake)

*Decaffeinated tea

*Clear soup

*Smoothie

*Water-rich fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, grapes or celery

*Limit intake of soda and caffeine as these can actually make dehydration worse

Once the baby arrives, even if your due date is after the worst of the heat has passed, be sure to stay on top of your hydration routine, especially if you are nursing. Breast milk is nearly 90 percent water, so if you don’t stay hydrated, your milk production could suffer.

Sources: American Pregnancy Association, What to Expect

By: Stephanie Duhon