Summer is prime time for vacations, traveling, soaking up the sun and enjoying the great outdoors. But if you’re pregnant you may wonder whether it’s safe to hop on an airplane or slather on mosquito repellant and sunscreen.
Edwin England, DO, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Intermountain Riverton Hospital recommends these tips to keep pregnant women safe in the summer:
Pregnant and flying?
Pregnant women with these conditions shouldn’t travel on an airplane:
- If you’re more than 36 weeks along
- If you’re at risk of pre-term labor
- If you have pre-eclampsia (symptoms include high blood pressure and excessive swelling).
- If you have placenta previa (placenta covers all or part of the cervix)
- If your water has broken
“If your pregnancy is low-risk and you’re less than 36 weeks along, it’s generally safe to fly on an airplane, but always check with your doctor in advance about your travel plans,” says Dr. England. “Get an aisle seat if possible, so you’re able to move around every couple of hours, which helps reduce the risk of blood clots, especially on longer flights. If you’re traveling by car, you should also stop every two hours to move around.”
If I'm pregnant, should I use mosquito repellant?
If you’re going to a place with lots of mosquitoes, whether it’s just camping in the woods or to a destination where mosquito-borne illnesses such as the Zika virus or malaria are prevalent, pregnant women should use mosquito repellant. Repellants with DEET are most effective.
“It’s safe for pregnant women to use repellants with up to 30 percent DEET,” says Dr. England.
- Avoid exposure to mosquitoes by staying indoors near dawn and dusk
- If you get mosquito bites and experience a fever, chills or a rash, contact your doctor
Are pregnant women more at risk for sunburn?
“During pregnancy, the body produces more melanocytes, which are specialized skin cells that produce the skin-darkening pigment melanin,” says Dr. England. That means pregnant women have a higher risk of exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun.
If you’re pregnant:
- Avoid prolonged sun exposure
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher
- Re-apply sunscreen every two hours
RELATED: Skin Care Tips for Summer
Are pregnant women more likely to get dehydrated in the heat?
“Staying hydrated is especially important for women in the third trimester of pregnancy when there’s a higher risk for pre-term labor,” says Dr. England. To help prevent dehydration, pregnant women should:
- Drink 64 ounces of water per day
- Drink small amounts and sip frequently
- Reduce sun exposure, especially during the hottest time of day
- Wear loose, lightweight clothing
Exercise in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.