It’s summertime, and the living might not be so easy if you’re pregnant. The heat might be less comfortable when you’re carrying extra weight, constantly looking for a bathroom, and potentially nauseated.
While you try to keep cool this summer, be sure you keep pregnancy nutrition top of mind. That ice cream sundae by the pool sounds good, but it’s not going to address your nutritional needs the way other pregnancy foods can.
It should come as no surprise that one of the best things you can do when you’re pregnant over the summer is to stay hydrated. Water and other hydration sources (such as sports drinks, specialty teas, and fruit) can help cool you down and keep bodily systems functioning whether you’re pregnant or not – and pregnant women are already encouraged to hydrate more than when they’re not pregnant.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend drinking 64 to 96 ounces of water each day during pregnancy to help aid digestion, form amniotic fluid, circulate nutrients, and remove waste from the body. Too much water can be problematic, however, as over-hydration can dilute necessary electrolytes. That’s where it may be beneficial to supplement hydration through other sources.
Fruits & Vegetables
While not a substitute for water, some fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of water and can help keep you hydrated – usually while also delivering important nutrients! Some fruits and vegetables boast water content of at least 90% and are great options for your summer snacking:
- Watermelon (92% water)
- Strawberries (91% water)
- Cucumbers (95% water)
- Lettuce (95% water)
- Cantaloupe (90% water)
Just be sure all produce has been thoroughly washed, and avoid pre-cut fruits and veggies, which run a higher risk of listeria contamination.
Keeping Hydrated After Baby
Expecting your precious bundle before the summer heat subsides? You’ll want to keep well-hydrated even after delivery – especially if you plan to breastfeed. While drinking more water than usual hasn’t been shown to increase milk supply, not getting enough can negatively impact it. Experts recommend about 128 ounces of water per day or to at least avoid becoming dehydrated.
Meet Your (and Your Baby’s!) Nutritional Needs
When the weather gets hotter, some people find food less appealing. Or they might stick primarily to light, watery items like fruits and salads. If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to make sure you’re still meeting your (and your baby’s) full nutritional needs.
We’ve covered what to eat when pregnant before, but to recap:
Pregnant women should follow a nutritionally balanced diet, but there are a few key nutrients to make sure you’re getting each day:
- Folate and folic acid (400 to 1,000 micrograms)
- Calcium (1,000 milligrams)
- Vitamin D (600 IU)
- Protein (71 grams)
- Iron (27 milligrams)
Most prenatal vitamins cover the folic acid and at least some of your calcium, vitamin D, and iron requirements, but you can help boost your pregnancy diet with foods like green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and citrus fruits. Calcium is found in many dairy products, as well as healthy summery treats like rhubarb and figs.
Don’t forget to grill up some chicken, lean beef, or fish, at the next cookout to help meet your protein needs!
Most pregnant women need to consume an extra 300 calories per day during the second and third trimesters to maintain a healthy pregnancy weight. These extra calories should be nutrient-dense (not from extra sweets). Of course, each woman’s nutritional needs are different (even from pregnancy to pregnancy), so you’ll want to consult with your doctor for your unique caloric needs.
Foods to Avoid & Summer Food Safety
There are some foods pregnant women are advised to limit or avoid altogether, either because these foods can harm the baby or because the available information isn’t strong enough to consider the foods safe:
- Caffeine – Pregnant women should limit daily caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day (or about one 12 oz cup of coffee).
- Alcohol – It’s well-known that pregnant women should not drink alcohol. If you’re enjoying patio season or sitting out on the dock with your friends and family, make sure that margarita is non-alcoholic.
- Unpasteurized food – Foods like soft cheeses (feta, Brie, queso fresco, etc.), lunch meat and cold cuts, and store-bought deli salads are often staples of summer picnics – and should also be avoided during pregnancy. Think twice before scooping that store-bought potato salad next to your cold-cut sandwich at the next grad party! Also a potential risk: hot dogs and brats. Be sure any hot dog or brat you eat at the 4th of July BBQ is cooked to steaming to be safe.
- Some seafood – Fish like swordfish, shark, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, and tilefish contain high levels of mercury that can potentially harm your baby. If your summer plans include a lot of fishing trips, make sure you’re checking out the mineral levels in your catch before you filet it.
- Raw meat and fish – You’ll want to avoid rare, raw, or undercooked meats, eggs, and shellfish and raw fish. That means no sushi, raw cookie dough, tiramisu, or chocolate mousse. (Ice cream should be ok, though!)
It’s getting hot out there, Mama, but you can handle it. Mix up that iced tea, grab a bowl of watermelon, and find a cozy place in the shade to daydream about that sweet little life you’re nurturing inside you. They’ll be here before you know it!
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: How much water should I drink during pregnancy?
Grow by WebMD: Pregnant This Summer? Beat the Heat
Parents: 7 Foods to Keep You Hydrated During Your Summer Pregnancy
VeryWell Family: How to Stay Hydrated When You Are Breastfeeding
Simply Small: The Drink For Moms | Bamboobies
The Bump: Summer Foods to Avoid While Pregnant
Mayo Clinic: Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients
Grow by WebMD: Prenatal Vitamins
American Pregnancy Association: Pregnancy Nutrition
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Moderate Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy
Live Science: Pregnancy diet & nutrition: What to eat, what not to eat