RVA summer pregnancy survival tips

Beating the summer heat

For most of us, RVA in the summer is uncomfortable due to the high heat and humidity. But if you’re pregnant, the mere thought of venturing out may make you wilt! There are countless stories about pregnant women who are hot no matter how high the air conditioning is turned up. And tales of pregnant women who sleep on top of the covers with the ceiling fan on high while their husbands wear sweatshirts and sweatpants shivering under piles of covers. Hearing these stories along with weather forecasts for heat indices of 100+ can make you afraid to leave your house.

Pregnancy raises your body temperature. In fact, it’s one of the first hints that you’re pregnant. Combine an already elevated core temp with hot, muggy weather and the effect is intensified. Heat stress can cause hyperthermia and can – in extreme cases – harm your baby’s development. And, dehydration can decrease the amount of blood available to your baby and cause preterm contractions. But with a little planning and a few extra precautions, you can survive – and thrive – being pregnant in the summer in central Virginia.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe and beat the heat this summer.

  • Wear light-colored, loose, comfortable clothing that breathes – cotton, linen or man-made wicking materials.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Keep water with you at all times and drink throughout the day. If you start to feel faint, dizzy or fatigued, you probably aren’t drinking enough. Your urine should be the color of pale straw or light yellow.
  • Try to stay indoors whenever the heat index – combination of heat and humidity – is over 90.
  • Avoid the hottest part of the day – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
  • Stay cool in the water. There’s nothing like a dip in a swimming pool to cool you off. If you don’t have access to a swimming pool, put a cool, wet washcloth on your neck and run cold water over your wrists, or take a lukewarm or cool shower. But be careful, cold showers can actually overchill your body and cause it to generate more heat.


Swelling of the legs, feet and hands is another common pregnancy side effect. And, summer temps can exacerbate your puffy extremities. If you notice that swelling doesn’t go away with rest, or it’s associated with a severe headache or pain on your right side, call your provider, immediately. But most of the time, following these simple guidelines will help reduce water retention and manage the swelling:

  • Lie down and put your feet up for at least thirty minutes during the day. And, when you sleep at night, prop up your feet with a pillow.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, or go barefoot. If none of your shoes fit and barefooting isn’t an option, try shoes that are one-half to a whole size larger.
  • Pay attention to your fingers. If your rings are getting snug, take them off. Putting them on a necklace in the final months of pregnancy is preferable to having them cut off.


When pregnant, your hormones change drastically. Increased estrogen stimulates a temporary increase in your body’s production of melanin, and increased melanin means heightened sun sensitivity. Even short periods in the sun will cause existing freckles and moles to darken, and new spots to pop up. Roughly 50 to 75 percent of pregnant women develop blotchy areas of darkened skin call the “mask of pregnancy,” or melasma. These splotches can show up on your forehead, nose, cheeks, upper lip and arms. Pregnancy mask typically lingers past birth and fades over time – although in some cases the changes never completely disappear. To reduce pregnancy-related skin darkening:

  • Wear a hat with a wide brim.
  • Apply sunscreen of SPF 30+ at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors. To adequately protect against the sun’s ultraviolet rays, use 1.5 fluid ounces (roughly the size of a shot glass) or more of sunscreen lotion to cover your body. Reapply sunscreen throughout the day.
  • Take your prenatal vitamins and eat dark, leafy greens, broccoli, citrus fruits, beans, peas, lentils, avocados, whole-wheat bread and cereal. Hyperpigmentation can be related to a folic acid deficiency.


RVA summers are tough. By taking a few of these simple actions you’ll feel better, have more energy, keep your cool – and enjoy – your summer pregnancy.

Posted in Obstetrics | Leave a comment

Give yourself some love, too.

An Iowa farm mother hugs her young daughter while standing next to a field of corn.

Guidelines for Pap smears and cervical cancer screening have changed over the last few years. But that doesn’t mean you should skip your annual GYN exam —your wellness visit. Your annual check-up is more than a pelvic and breast exam. It’s about checking in on your overall health.

Before you find yourself sitting on the exam table, put some thought into what you want to get out of your visit. Did anything happen since your last wellness visit that worried you slightly but not enough to prompt a visit to the doctor’s office? This is your chance to talk to your provider and share what’s new in your life. An opportunity to discuss changes in your body, period and sleep patterns. Are you experiencing pain during sex? Leaking when you run, jump or laugh too hard? Have your birth control or hormone replacement needs changed?  Based on your conversation, you and your provider can decide if there are any screenings or tests you might need.

Your annual wellness visit includes a physical exam and health assessment which can help detect problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid issues, bone density loss, cervical, uterine, breast and colon cancer, anemia and more. And, it’s your chance to address your emotional well-being, too. Are you taking life’s challenges in stride? Or are you constantly feeling overwhelmed and exhausted? What about abuse – partner or substance?  Your provider can’t help you if you don’t share what’s going on in your life, body, and mind.

If you’re like many women, your annual wellness visit is the only time you take out of your hectic schedule to see a doctor. Make the most out of it. Be honest and open so that they can help keep you healthy, catch problems early, start treatment and prevent long-term issues.

If you have trouble remembering when your last check-up was, or difficulty remembering when to set up the next one, schedule it during your birth month. Think of your annual exam as a gift to yourself – the gift of health and well-being. And, put yourself on top of your to-do list. You’re worth it. And, your family and friends will thank you for taking care of yourself.

About Virginia Women’s Center

At Virginia Women’s Center, every medical decision we make — together with you — is based on what is best for you. Our goal is to educate and empower you so that you can actively manage and maintain your health, no matter where you are in your life journey. We provide comprehensive care — mind and body. Our dedicated, knowledgeable team is here for you, from adolescence to menopause and beyond.

In addition to gynecologic care, we offer urogynecology,  complete breast health services,  in-office procedures, bone health and psychology services in the comfort and convenience of our offices. For more information, visit www.VirginiaWomensCenter.com, or find us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


Posted in Bone Health, Gynecology, Mammography, Preventative Health, Psychology, Urogynecology | Leave a comment

Six Tips for a Healthy 2016





As we welcome in a new year, let’s remember that health is not merely the absence of disease, it’s a lifestyle. Whether it’s getting enough sleep, enjoying a hobby or learning to set limits with others in your life, it’s important to take time to be good to yourself. Take steps to balance work, home, play and others’ expectations for you. Pay attention to your health, and make healthy living a part of your life.

Here are our six tips for a healthy 2016:





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13 Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating






The month of December brings holiday get-togethers with families and friends to celebrate the season. While this is a fun and festive time, many of the celebrations are focused on food, making it easier to over-indulge and potentially gain weight.

Below are some healthy holiday eating tips to remember as we head into the holiday season.

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