Summertime Baby Blues

Keeping cool and comfortable is vital for moms with a summer due date

 How did anyone ever make it before air-conditioning?

That’s a common sentiment heard during the summer even in the breezy coastal parts of the Southeast. But even if your home and your workspace have excellent AC systems, you will more than likely have to cope with some serious heat a few times a day. Staying cool and hydrated is essential to wellbeing in the daily life of a Southerner in the summer, and the goes double for women who are pregnant.

“It is difficult for women in their third trimester to stay well-hydrated, even when it’s not especially hot,” explains Maryanna Barrett, MD, who works with her twin sister, Maria Paasch, MD, at Thrive Obstetrics & Gynecology. Both Barrett and Paasch are Board-Certified OB/GYN doctors.

“We encourage our patients to always carry a water bottle with them,” Paasch says. “So that you have a refillable container on hand, and also to serve as a reminder that you need to stay hydrated.”

A woman is already dealing with natural discomfort during the third trimester. Extra weight gain causes back pain, while the growth of the baby can put pressure on the woman’s bladder and lead to frequent urination. This in turn can disrupt sleep. Also, as a woman’s uterus expands, it can take up room in the rib cage where the lungs normally do the expanding. This leads to shortness of breath.

“Heat can sometimes intensify that discomfort,” Barrett says. The doctors warn against drinking too much iced tea, though, for two reasons. First, excess caffeine is discouraged for pregnant women. Second, too much tea can have a diuretic effect, producing more urine and actually leaving patients feeling more dehydrated.

Barrett and Paasch recommend frozen fruit snacks as a good source of both hydration and coolness. Fruits like blueberries and grapes can be eaten ice cold to provide not just water but also antioxidants and vitamins.

“There are also several good, homemade popsicle recipes on the internet,” Barrett says. “Websites like Pinterest and others like it are full or recipes using fresh fruit and yogurt.”

Exercise is important during the third trimester for avoiding too much weight gain and preventing back pain. Yet women may feel even more discouraged to exercise in the hot summer months. That’s when access to a pool can be an incredible blessing.

“Swimming keeps you active but gives you that almost weightless feeling,” Barrett says. “It may be the only time during the third trimester when you don’t feel so heavy.”

“And it helps keep you cool, too,” Paasch adds.

Barrett and Paasch encourage their patients to keep working until the baby is due, if the pregnancy is uncomplicated. Working can help women avoid boredom and distract them from some of the discomforts of pregnancy.

Lastly, Barrett and Paasch have some recommendations for the fathers-to-be. Along with physical discomfort, women are often sensitive about their weight and appearance during the third trimester. Massages and other kinds of pampering for your wife should include plenty of kind words about how she looks, even if she’s sweating.

“Compliments are nice and simple, and very important,” Paasch says.

These Sisters Working Together Is No Act

Though they were both training to become doctors, Maria Paasch, MD, was determined not to go into the same field as her twin sister, Maryanna Barrett, MD. But fate had different plans.

“I thought I would concentrate on surgery or something different,” Paasch says. “But when I got to the OB/GYN part of medical school training, I realized, ‘Oh, I really like this.’ I couldn’t deny it. It just felt right.”

“I chose to study OB/GYN first,” Barrett says. “But OB/GYN chose my sister.”

From there, working together in a practice was a natural progression.

“We think very much alike, and have similar belief systems,” Barrett says. “It works well.”

“We don’t have to try and make it work,” Paasch agrees. “It just does.”

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