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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more

Hot Summer Safety

While summer may conjure up images of fun vacations, picnics, barbeques, and balmy evenings spent outside on the porch, the reality may be a bit less bucolic, especially when you're pregnant. Summer heat can exacerbate any discomfort you may be feeling due to hormonal fluctuations, extra body weight, and other physical changes. In addition, the heat can be dangerous for you and your baby if you become overheated, dehydrated, or develop hyperthermia (not to be confused with hypothermia, which is caused by extreme cold).

Early signs you are dehydrated include thirst, dry or chapped lips, dry skin, fatigue, and constipation. You may also notice that your baby is less active than usual. If you experience any of these symptoms, go somewhere cool, sit down, and drink cool water or fruit juice. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, lie down on your left side and place a cool cloth on your forehead and neck.

Hyperthermia is the general name given to several heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps, exhaustion, and stroke.

Heat cramps are the least severe of the heat-related illnesses and they are often the first sign that your body is stressed due to increased temperature. Heavy perspiration causes excessive loss of electrolytes, which leads to painful muscle spasms. If you experience heat cramps, treat them as a serious warning that unless you reduce your body temperature, you could develop a serious heat-related emergency.

Heat exhaustion is a more serious and complex condition that can result from prolonged exposure to high temperatures, restricted fluid intake, or failure of your body's temperature regulation mechanism. If you develop heat exhaustion, your skin may feel cool and moist and appear pale. You may also suffer from headache, nausea, weakness, exhaustion, dizziness, faintness, mental confusion, and have a rapid, weak pulse. Your breathing may become fast and shallow, and your blood pressure may drop.

Heat exhaustion can develop rapidly into heat stroke, a potentially life threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Heat stroke, like heat exhaustion, is a product of prolonged exposure to high temperatures, restricted fluid intake, or the failure of your body's temperature regulation mechanisms. However, the impact on your body is much greater with heat stroke. If you develop heat stroke, your body temperature reaches 104°F (40°C) or higher, and you may experience mental confusion, combative and bizarre behavior, staggering, and faintness. Your pulse will be strong and rapid (160-180 beats per minute) and your skin will become dry and flushed. You will sweat very little and can quickly lose consciousness or have convulsions.

While it may seem logical that all the extra fluid that you're carrying in your ankles, hands, and belly would protect you and your baby from dehydration, it may actually contribute to dehydration. Fluid retention moves the fluid out of the cells where it's needed and into the spaces around them, causing the swollen and puffy look you may be experiencing.

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