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This week I interviewed one of our new Maternal Fetal Medicine physicians, Dr. Linda Fonseca. Here in central Texas, we all know the heat has been exhausting and it has the opportunity to take an even greater toll on those who are pregnant.

Here are the things we chatted about:

Meg – How does the heat affect women who are pregnant?

Dr. Fonseca – “Pregnant women are more susceptible to dehydration because of the pregnancy and it can lead to serious problems. Heat can exacerbate dehydration from other conditions such as morning sickness or the stomach flu worse. Dehydration during pregnancy can lead to pre-term contractions or pre-term labor which can affect the outcome of the baby.”

Meg – What are the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and also heat stroke?

Dr. Fonseca – Many of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion can be easily disguised as something else. For heat exhaustion, be on the lookout for such things as: headaches, dizziness, cold or clammy skin, thirst, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, dark urine and fatigue. Dr. Fonseca states that the signs and symptoms for heat stroke are much more severe and life threatening including: mental confusion or lethargy (an abnormal state of drowsiness), core body temperature of 104 degrees, seizures and lack of perspiration.

Meg – What can a patient do to decrease the risk of heat exhaustion?

Dr. Fonseca – “During these days of high temperatures, make sure to stay indoors as much as possible”. Dr. Fonseca encourages women to run errands in the early morning hours when it is still cool outside as opposed to the middle of the day when temperatures are the highest. She also recommends staying hydrated – “carry around a water bottle and take several sips throughout your day even if you are not thirsty”. Dr. Fonseca would like to remind women that they should increase their water intake if they are doing anything outdoors and to stay away from caffeinated drinks like soda or tea that can increase dehydration. “Caffeine is a diuretic which can cause your body to dehydrate much more quickly.” She also recommends wearing light clothing when doing anything outdoors and try to stay in the shade as much as possible.

Meg- What is an adequate water intake to prevent dehydration? Many women feel like 8-10 glasses of water per day are hard to achieve because they feel very full.

Dr. Fonseca – “The goal is still 8-10 glasses per day especially in these high temperatures.” Dr. Fonseca encourages women to take small sips of water throughout the day to prevent those uncomfortable “full” feelings that accompany the growing fetus. The plastic water bottles most people are familiar with are approximately 16oz so a person would need 4-5 bottles of water per day to meet the water requirement.

Meg – Any special foods or drinks you recommend to ward off dehydration or electrolyte imbalance?

Dr. Fonseca – “I generally encourage my patients to eat fresh fruit (instead of dried fruit), especially in the summer that is high in water such as peaches, watermelon, or cantaloupe.” Dr. Fonseca tells her patients to stay away from caffeine and sugary drinks that may rob your body of water. She encourages them to drink water and supplement with electrolyte enhanced liquids such as Gatorade, vitamin water or pedialyte.

Always an advocate for sunscreen, she reminds patients to make sure they are wearing an SPF in the summer wherever their skin will see light, but especially on their face. “During pregnancy there is an increase in melanin which can increase the chance of chloasma during pregnancy. Chloasma is hyper pigmentation caused by an increase of hormones while you are pregnant. Make sure to wear an SPF daily when leaving the house.

-Has anyone out there had a baby during these summer months? What advice do you have for our moms to be?!

Stay cool-

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