When working in heat, safety always a top priority

Summertime is here which means more time for swimming, cookouts, family time… and more babies.

While many family members may be enjoying a dip in the pool or a day a lake, some expectant mothers may be trying to stay indoors as much as they can.

“I don’t spend too much time in the heat for long periods,” said expectant mother Erin Coleman, 22, of Java who is in the first trimester of her pregnancy.

She’s the mother of Layne and Cody, and just found out in May that she has another child on the way.

“Because I am early on in my pregnancy, it doesn’t affect me much. However, it can make my morning sickness worse,” said Coleman.

She also said extended periods outdoors in the heat, often leads to worse headaches and leaves her feeling even more lethargic than usual.

Being that this isn’t Coleman’s first go around, she knew what she could be dealing with when she saw those temperature gauges rising.

When she was pregnant with her oldest son, she couldn’t withstand any heat.

“My morning sickness and migraines were 10 times worse with him, and the heat would make it worse. I would feel faint at times, but also low iron contributed to that,” said Coleman.

Her second pregnancy, and now her third, have been much easier to handle, but she’s still taking precautions.

“(My doctors) told me to make sure I stay hydrated mostly. But, as for me, I don’t spend too much time in the heat for long periods… if I have to be in the heat, I try to make sure I have cold water and something to keep on my stomach,” said Coleman.

“I’d much rather send the beginning of my pregnancy in the heat instead of the end by far,” she added.

According to Dr. Gwendolyn Riddick, of Sentara Obstetrics & Gynecology, what Coleman is experiencing is normal for some expecting women.

Heat can lead to an increase in nausea and morning sickness due to the body’s imbalance, said Riddick, which is why she recommends sports drinks such as Gatorade as well as water, orange juice and milk.

“It’s important to stay cool and hydrated,” said Riddick, who explained there are even greater risks.

When in their first trimester, she said dehydration can lead to miscarriage as well as neural tub defects, or defects with the baby’s mind.

During the second and third trimester, dehydration can lead to pre-term labor or contractions.

“Always carry a bottle of water with you,” said Riddick.

If an expecting mother enjoys participating in recreational activities outdoors like 26-year-old Jessica Bagbey Griles of Scottsburg does, Riddick suggests wearing protective gear such as hats, shades and sunscreen with SPF at least 30.

She also suggested wearing loose, breathable clothing, and avoiding exercising outdoors midday between the hours of noon and 3 p.m.

Griles is in her third trimester expecting her first child, a baby girl due on Aug. 16, and so far, it’s been smooth sailing even during her lake days and days at the beach.

“I don’t think that the heat has been an issue at all thus far for the summer. I have been blessed to not have any real issues with swelling so far, and have actually been enjoying several days out in the heat at the lake and the beach,” said Griles.

She also works in home health, and spends many days in and out of cars and houses all day.

“It hasn’t been a problem for me,” she added.

She drank plenty of water even before she was pregnant so staying hydrated hasn’t been an issue, and she’s taking breaks in the shade if she’s feeling overheated.

“I also enjoy being out in the water, which keeps me cool. My doctor just really suggests hydration,” said Griles.

According to Dr. Riddick, swimming is actually highly recommended.

Swimming, she said, relieves pressure in the lower back and sciatic nerve and helps with swelling.

Keeping a body’s temperature below 104 degrees is key, said Riddick, so stay cool and avoid saunas and hut tubs.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com