Are you concerned about staying safe, cool, and happy while getting some sun in the sand? Pregnant women shouldn’t have to give up the waves while they’re growing a baby!
Enjoying the beach may not be as easy as it has been in the past, but there is no reason why a soon-to-be momma shouldn’t get out there anyway.
In this article, we’ll discuss the risks of the beach to a pregnant woman, and more importantly, the best tips on how to make your sunny vacation a blast!
Can Pregnant Women Enjoy the Beach?
The short answer? Yes! But if you’re a regular reader around here, you’ll know it’s never that simple.
Being pregnant means a lot of planning, and going to the beach on a hot summer’s day is no different. You will need to be aware of the risks and equip yourself with the knowledge to prevent them. It’s also important to have fun, and our tips will make sure you have a great time, even in the hot sun when the heat can be uncomfortable.
Beach Risks During Pregnancy
I know, being pregnant is full of new “don’ts” and “be carefuls” and “risks.” It’s never-ending, isn’t it? Fortunately, the beach isn’t one that is too major, and it’s really easy to avoid the worst.
Here are the four main things to pay special attention to when you visit the beach! After we review the pesky risks, we’ll be ready to move onto how to solve them while having the most fun.
You already know the dangers of a sunburn to you, but it gets worse when a baby is involved, even before birth. A sunburn, especially if made a habit, can have numerous effects on your overall personal health, which can all affect your baby.
Just because the sun can’t directly harm your baby with its powerful UV rays, doesn’t mean the baby won’t be affected in other ways if you are a victim of prolonged exposure. Sunburns can strip your body of folic acid, which is a vital part of your baby’s development and your own health (1).
You’ve probably heard it already, but pregnant women are much more prone to dehydration than the rest of the population since we need more water. Water develops the placenta which sustains our baby, so anytime you have less of an H2O intake, your baby is put at risk (2).
Water is important in pregnancy because your blood volume has increased significantly to meet the needs of your baby! As your pregnancy progresses, you will also need more fluid for your baby’s amniotic fluid.
Editor's Note:Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM
When you’re outside at the beach, being active and having fun, you’re probably going to be sweating … a lot. It’s just another side effect of being pregnant during the summertime. When you sweat, you lose water, so you have to be careful to avoid dehydration when you’re out and about and having fun.
In the first trimester, extreme overheating is a major problem. It can even lead to termination of the pregnancy if you’re not careful. Later on, it could lead to health defects and dehydration for you (3).
This is why it’s so important to make sure your body temperature stays below 102°F. When it spikes above this, either from the sun or a hot bath, you’re putting both of you at risk. Being outside for a long time can make you really hot, especially if it’s hotter outside than normal.
Avoiding overheating is important whenever you’re outside while pregnant. Cool mists, shade, rest, and plenty of water can help keep your core temperature below the maximum so you can stay out for longer.
Let’s face it — being pregnant is really, really tiring. Sometimes just getting the laundry done is a giant task, and you can forget about tying shoes!
The beach, while fun and relaxing, can also be pretty exhausting. You’re in and out of the water, walking in the sliding sand, possibly chasing your other kids around, and lugging around the big bag. It’s understandable you’ll get tired easily, especially if you’re far along in the pregnancy.
Getting too tired too quickly is less of a risk to you and the baby as it is a frustrating and disappointing end to a day at the beach. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to have an accident behind the wheel, especially if you have a bit of a drive back to where you’re staying.
Avoid caffeine and instead, stay hydrated, eat some extra protein or squeeze in a quick nap in the shade!
Tips for Staying Cool and Happy
Now that you know what to watch out for, let’s look at the best ways to avoid the risks and have the most fun while staying cool. Anyone who has been pregnant in the summertime knows that it’s no joke!
1. Get Out of the Sun Occasionally
Being at the beach doesn’t mean you have to be directly in the sun’s rays forever. Instead of spending every minute basking in the warmth, find shade frequently and take plenty of breaks. This will help prevent overheating, dehydration, sunburn, and exhaustion from setting in too quickly.
If the beach you’re visiting doesn’t have shelters or places with shade, consider bringing an umbrella or beach tent to set up. That way, you can still be with the family without having to go back to the car or a nearby lodge!
Beach umbrellas are affordable and convenient, so if you’re planning on spending a lot of time on the sand, consider investing in one for your trip. My personal favorite umbrella is the Tommy Bahama! A beach tent like this one from Pacific Breeze provides a lot of shade and is easy to set up.
2. Use SPF 30 or Higher Sunscreen
No one likes a sunburn, but imagine how horrible it would be to be burnt and uncomfortably pregnant! It’s happened to me before, and trust me, it’s not fun at all.
To prevent this and all the risks I discussed previously, make sure you have a good quality sunscreen that is at least SPF 30. Higher is recommended, but SPF 30 will do the trick if you stay consistent with applying it.
There are tons of choices out there for sunscreen, from lotion to sprays and ranging with SPF protection. My favorite is the Sun Bum Spray, but use whatever product works the best for you and the family.
3. Frequently Enjoy the Water!
If you’re like me, one of your favorite beach activities is lounging on a fluffy towel and reading that book you’ve wanted to get to for the past year. Sure, I put on a swimsuit and lather on the sunscreen, but somehow, the water gets to enjoy less of me than the sand.
When you’re pregnant, it’s important to stay cool, and getting wet every so often really helps keep that body temperature down. Even if it’s just a quick dip, you’re doing both you and the baby a favor, so don’t be afraid of the sea!
If swimming really isn’t on your to-do list, maybe just splash your feet in. It’s important to note that swimming is a really great low-impact exercise, especially for pregnant women, so getting in some activity may help you feel better and take the strain off of your feet and joints.
4. Stay Alert and Aware
So obviously, if you’re going to the ocean, there is the slim chance a harmful sea creature could wash up and become a risk. Usually, there will be flag signals to let you know about these creatures, or waves, or currents. Just make sure you’re aware of what’s going on in the water, as well as outside of it.
Half of being a mom is having the ability to keep one eye on everything going on, so start practicing now!
Has it been too long since you applied sunscreen? Have you drank water recently? Are the waves getting stronger?
These simple observations will help keep you safe and protected no matter what the beach throws your way!
5. Pack a Bag Full of Essentials
Getting to the beach and realizing you forgot something is one of the most frustrating things that can happen on an otherwise perfect vacation. You’re going to need a lot for your lazy afternoons at the seaside, so keep your beach bag stocked and ready to go for hours in the sun.
When putting together your Ultimate Momma Beach Bag, make sure you’re including everything you know you’ll need, plus anything else that you might need.
Here are some of my best suggestions:
- A large water bottle.
- Plenty of sunscreen.
- Some easy, light snacks.
- Extra towels and/or clothes.
- A book (or three).
- A cute, wide brim hat.
- A swim cover (if you’re feeling insecure).
- Spray misting bottle.
Insecure About Your Belly Bump?
Feeling self-conscious about these drastic changes to your body is normal and every mom experiences it at some point during motherhood. If you’re starting to feel more like a beached whale than a sexy mermaid, the beach may be the last place you want to show some skin.
Instead of hiding underneath layers and putting yourself at risk of overheating or getting dehydrated, show off that bump! You can get plenty of cute maternity swimsuits or modest cover-ups to stay stylish.
Throw on a loose, flowing sundress with a vibrant pattern or layer a lightweight cover-up over a modest suit if you’re feeling especially self-conscious that day.
It can seem like every pair of eyes is on you and your growing bump, but just remember you’ll be getting even more attention once baby is born so you may as well get used to the extra attention now!
It’s important to remember this journey is about you and no one else. Embrace your beautiful bump!
Stay Safe And Stylish in the Sun!
Hopefully, you’re now feeling a little bit better about your upcoming trip to the beach and have started to feel excited again about your lounging days in the sand! Pack up that bag, grab a few cute summer outfits, and hit the sand with your water bottle and sunscreen.