Let’s first establish that in some places, summer is not actually the hottest season.
But for the purposes of this article, we’ll be talking about, basically, giving birth in the hottest time of the year versus, well, giving birth when it’s not the very warmest of times.
I have personally done both.
Where I live, it’s the very end of summer and the first part of fall that are sweltering. Then in late fall and winter, it can get a bit chilly, with the weather being mild much of the year.
But don’t worry, I have friends living all across this weird and wild country, and I’ve traveled a bit here and there, so I understand the practical concerns, too, of people who live in places with actual weather – as in temps high or low enough that they affect how often you might be able to realistically leave your house without going through a bunch of hassle.
Things can only be easier if the conditions are favorable, right?
Plus, I understand well that urge to picture how things might be when you finally go into labor… to wonder what will affect how you feel as well as the work ahead.
With one baby born when it was nearing the hottest week of the year and one born in cooler climes, allow me to be your tour guide, now, through a few things one might consider: 10 ways giving birth in the summer is twice the challenge, as well as 10 ways it might just be better.
20 Staying Loose
I have dabbled in running here and there over the years. And although it can be intimidating to face a sweaty jog on a sweltering afternoon, I and other runners I’ve talked to over the years have actually discovered that warm-ish weather can be really nice for a time you are demanding a lot of activity from your body’s muscles.
Also in my own experience, labor requires some pretty intense physical work, particularly demanding a lot of work from muscles that may have to be pushed to work longer and harder than they have in many, many moons.
That’s why I could see it as actually a good thing to be laboring when it’s warm! The body is warm, limber, and ready to roll.
19 Maternity Swimwear Issues
Next time your pregnancy / baby mag or Instagram feed features an ad picturing a leggy model calmly and casually sporting a fashionable one-piece swimsuit, maybe you’ll think back on some of the realities I’m about to mention, here…
First of all, good luck successfully shaving the bikini area during your final month of pregnancy. Just sayin’.
And though you may hope that you can just wear a bikini from your pre-pregnancy days, does the bottom still fit? Does the top cover anything more than, well, the bare minimum? Mine didn’t.
One of the times I found myself really pregnant in the summer, I did go ahead and spring for a maternity suit. It’s hard to get the fit right, though, and I guess I’m just saying that wearing swimsuits while your body so very different than usual can be sort of a, well, interesting experience.
Although some laps or a quick cool-down in the water may be just the thing as you approach labor, it may also have some practical challenges, is all.
A small point, but perhaps a very real on for the real women out there.
18 Options For Staying Active
Where I live, there are honestly very few days that it’s not safe and actually fairly easy to get outside and get moving.
But in many places of the world, the beautiful thing about summer is all that daylight and all that lovely weather that allows folks to spend plenty of time outdoors rather than cooped up inside.
In my experience, the summer is a great time to have many varied outdoors exercise options, including that wonderful pregnancy exercise: swimming, which can allow pregnant gals to feel weightless and have less strain on their joints as they move about and get a good workout.
If you’re set to go into labor in the summer, you might, like me, wanna go ahead and grab a maternity swimsuit, and also glory in all the other outside options still available to you, even if it’s just being able to walk around the neighborhood easily.
17 Don’t-Care Hair
I have very long hair. A necessary part of my daily life, pregnant or not is, therefore, dealing with keeping it clean and, though my style is very, very casual, somewhat “styled.” OK more like just brushed or out of my face.
So what I loved about being really pregnant in the hotter months, laboring then, and also having a brand-new newborn baby at this time was that my haircare was as simple as washing my long locks, braiding my hair or throwing it up in a high bun, and calling it good.
I did not have to worry at all about my wet hair making me too cold.
In fact, it could sort of be used as a tool to keep a bit cooler when those high temps hit.
I even intentionally took a shower after I went into labor so that I would have clean, wet hair, braided nicely out of the way, while I was laboring.
No need to blow dry!
16 Aflame While Feeding
My body temp would seem to noticeably rise while I was breastfeeding, particularly when the letdown reflex occurred and the milk really started to flow. Sometimes, I would even sort of feel a flush come over me, I think.
With the weather already very warm out, this made for one hot situation.
It was quite a struggle, really, to be spending all that time breastfeeding (and you spend a LOT of time breastfeeding in the early weeks with a newborn) when it was already so hot.
I sent my hubs to the store to buy ALL the fans. Not even joking.
We have at least one in every room of the house, and this all started with my need to have air moving toward me while I was nursing our first newborn.
15 A Clear Route
In the winter, where some of my old friends live, you have things like snow days. There are road closures.
Simply getting to your car, wherever it happens to be parked, and getting it free of ice and snow and safe to drive, can be a challenge.
Believe me, you do NOT need any more challenges in your quest to get to the car and to the hospital while you are in labor.
Our car was parked outside of our place, a few yards from my front door. It was perfectly lovely weather, and I could wear whatever clothes my husband had grabbed from the closet and be fine.
It took all my strength and determination to get to that car – but I knew I had to get to the hospital if I could, and so I dug deep and made it happen.
So yeah, a summertime birth free of any additional environmental obstacles to getting there safely may be super awesome.
Not that perfect conditions are a given (summer can sometimes present some wild weather events, too…), but you see what I mean.
14 Dress Without Stress
I loved being pregnant in the summer because throwing on a simple dress or skirt was amazing and amazingly comfortable and easy.
I can’t imagine living somewhere that it was cold enough to have to, like, buy a maternity parka or something.
Not only is it potentially easier to dress your very pregnant self if you’re set to give birth in the summer — it is also quite easy, I found, to dress your newborn immediately afterward.
For my first, it was nothing but a diaper and little cotton T-shirts all day in the first few weeks, with light PJs and swaddling as needed, particularly at night.
No need to struggle with layers each time you change a diaper!
13 Piece Of Cake To Keep Cozy
Newborns can’t yet regulate their body temps so easily as you and I, and the main concern of nurses in the hospital, I’ve noticed, is making sure that brand-new babies are at a healthy body temp.
Basically, they can get easily chilled.
“Keeping your baby warm enough and worrying that she's too cool or even too warm is natural as she is unable to regulate her own body temperature during the first few weeks of life,” says Livestrong.com, and “you know she is not too warm or too cold if she is sleeping comfortably, eating well and not irritable or fussy. Take her to her pediatrician if you are concerned about body temperature.”
But if you give birth in the summer, you may not have to worry quite so much about baby getting too cold.
12 Free Popsicles
People may tend to actually sort of take pity on you if you are, well, heavily pregnant, as they say, in the hotter months.
I’m just saying, there can be something both heart-warming (as if you need any part of you to be any warmer in any sense of the word if you’re pregnant in the summer…) and straight-up helpful about this.
I remember sitting in the lobby at the car dealership that hot July day.
The air-conditioning wasn’t working – of course.
I sat with a room full of other uncomfortable people waiting for my car to be serviced.
And then, a woman who worked there came out and offered me a glorious, ice-cold popsicle.
When she asked if I would like it and I lit up with excitement and relief, I swear the whole room smiled.
Maybe your version of this will be a seat in the shade or help carrying your groceries into the house.
11 Outdoorsy Options
I’ve already covered how nice it can be to be super pregnant in the summer because it allows you to easily get outside and keep moving. (And keeping moving and fit can help your labor to go well, too – believe me. This is physically challenging stuff.)
Well, one thing that might be a consideration for some expectant moms out there is that if it’s summertime, they may have more options for where they will actually give birth.
In googling around to read birth stories as preparation for my own natural labor as well as my research for pregnancy and childbirth writing over the last few years, both stories and images come up of people choosing to labor or give birth in tubs set up outside in their yards.
Getting out in nature is the, well, natural way to go for some women, and this may be a practical childbirth option in the summer.
10 Steamy Snuggling
In my experience, you end up spending a lot of time holding your newborn baby.
But it’s also a lot of body heat.
If you are not sitting snuggling them close, you are quite likely doing some sort of physical work, such as leaning over to change a diaper or supporting their weight using your arm muscles in all sorts of new ways as you begin to learn to breastfeed.
It can be warm! And giving birth in the summer can mean for sweaty work immediately afterward, too.
My solution was to just not really wear clothes, and to dress my newborn very lightly, as well.
9 An Awesomely Air-Conditioned Hospital
You know that thing where air-conditioning can quickly become sort of overkill or just too much? Like everyone is reaching for a sweater?
Well when I gave birth during one of the very hottest weeks of the year where I live, the AC of the hospital was AMAZING.
This might be quite awesome for during the labor itself, too: If you are actually doing some of the hard work of coping with contractions and pushing there, it might be a real pleasure to have that temp-controlled environment, especially if your own place tends to be stuffy or overly warm when it’s hot out.
For after the birth, I found it was awesome. I could easily stay comfortable and not too hot, even though I knew it was in the 90s outside.
8 Hard Work Made Hotter
In my experience, laboring means lots of hard, physical work.
It means getting down on your hands and knees for more time in a row than you ever thought you could stay like that.
It means having your legs up in the air and flexed back this way or that while actually pushing.
It means leg cramps because your muscles are just so fatigued.
And so you probably see where I’m going with all of this.
Labor can be hard, and therefore hot, work already, so if you are going to be doing it in the hot summer months, it may be even hotter.
A few words to consider: ice packs, ice cubes, crushed ice, fans, water in general… to try to stay more comfortable.
7 Harder To Hydrate
Here’s how it was explained to me by my doctors and in the childbirth classes I took before my first baby was born:
The uterus is a muscle, and it does some hard, hard work, often over a quite extended period of time, during labor.
Hydration is therefore key, as it is when the body is doing any physical work, but it is, like, really key when you are in labor.
This is one of the first things that any doctor or midwife I ever spoke to about natural childbirth mentioned when they knew going natural was my goal: stay hydrated.
And so I just had to be sure to mention that if it’s summer, it’s hot, and you’re already sweating, hydration could, of course, become even more of a challenge.
Amid potential nausea and also just the extreme focus of coping through contractions, it can already be challenging to take in enough fluids.
Having a helper to offer you sips regularly can be clutch.
6 Limited Exercise Options
Sure, I’ve optimistically noted that there may be some great exercise advantages when you are about to give birth and it’s the lovely summertime.
You can potentially quite easily stay active outside with morning or evening walks around the neighborhood, and spend some time feeling comfortable and lighter in the pool.
Except for, on the other hand, it might just be too darn hot.
Extreme summer heat, or even just some summer heat, really, can make it unsafe for pregnant gals to get moving outside or even simply act as a discouragement.
I still remember trying to keep moving, taking a long-ish walk with my husband one evening when I was really, really big on a hot summer day, and having to just top and sit on a low wall in front of someone’s house.
5 Sleep’s Even More Elusive
Of all the things I’ve shared from my own experience and imagined to be the realities for those living in places with more extreme weather, this is probably the truest and most personally REAL thing I have typed today. I had an “aha!” moment when I thought of it, in fact.
It can already be really hard to sleep when you are really, really pregnant. You may be nervously anticipating labor, for one thing, and also just have a lot of trouble finding any comfortable position.
The peeing… Oh, man, don’t even get me started on the peeing… I think I spent way more time in the bathroom (and going back and forth from it) at night than with my head on my pillow during those last few weeks.
It can also be really hard to sleep when it’s really hot.
So combine the heat of summer with being as pregnant as possible and, well… good luck.
I remember being nervous that I’d be exhausted while laboring and have a harder time getting through it.
4 Both Huge And Hot
I’ve already mentioned the perhaps obvious challenge of doing the hard physical work of labor when it’s also the hottest time of the year.
Well, perhaps even more noteworthy than this are those final weeks leading up to the labor.
I remember it well.
You’re the hugest you’ve ever been. You get too hot easily.
Just to be out and about doing errands can be tough for women, no matter what the season.
Throw in some summer heat, and you may have quite a challenge on your hands.
I’m talking about the simple stuff: making it out to those weekly prenatal appointments during the final month, hanging out at a neighbor’s BBQ.
It can just be sort of uncomfortable, and the comfort of the couch (with a cold glass of water and a fan pointed right at you) may be a quite tempting alternative.
3 Petite Sun Protection
We tend to spend a lot of time outdoors around here, so yeah, we go through a LOT of sunscreen.
I’ve got hats by the door, in the car, and more in the closet.
We just absolutely have to think every single day about protecting our skin from the abundant sun.
Plus, people don’t tend to have air-conditioning around here, both because many of the homes were built in previous decades when it just wasn’t as common to include it and because the weather rarely requires it.
But then there are those few weeks of the year when inside the home becomes stuffy and unbearably hot.
You have to get outside in the shade if there is any possible way you can.
If you have a newborn, I know from experience that it can be concerning and confusing to know how to adequately protect them from the sun.
Babies can’t wear sunscreen until they are 6 months old, says the American Academy of Pediatrics, as included at WhatToExpect.com.
If it’s summer when your little bundle arrives, you may find yourself needing to take extra caution to protect them from the sun (and of course keep them from overheating or dehydrating if it’s really hot).
2 Kangaroo Care
When newborn babies are held skin-to-skin, which is also sometimes referred to as “kangaroo care” (isn’t that cute?), it can have important and lasting effects for the little one.
FitPregnancy.com explains that this type of holding, in which a baby’s skin is in contact with yours, such as while resting snug against your abdomen and chest, helps a baby adapt to being out and about in this wide world. It also boosts a baby’s mental development, promotes healthy weight, makes breastfeeding easier, helps you make said milk, reduces a baby’s stress and pain, can help with daddy bonding and can prevent postpartum depression.
Well when the weather is warm, it’s that much more comfortable / natural to strip down and do some skin-to-skin!
1 Absolutely No Appetite
You need energy for labor.
You need to eat to have energy.
Well, I and other women I’ve heard from find that right at the end of pregnancy, when labor is near, the appetite sort of vanishes, or at least greatly decreases.
Perhaps your stomach simply doesn’t have much room anymore!
In my experience, too, as soon as I was actually in labor, I was completely revolted by the smell of food my husband was eating that I had made and eagerly eaten just the night before.
The other time I and some other folks I’ve talked to sometimes experience a decrease in appetite is when it’s just plain too hot out.
So hopefully being super pregnant / in labor and the heat of summer won’t combine to leave you feeling like you’re running on empty.
Surely there are some practical options to consider or have on hand, though. Think chilled pasta rather than hot, smoothies, fruit juice, popsicles, or hey, there’s always fro-yo or ice cream!