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The Science of Being Pregnant In The Texas Heat

Think this record-breaking heat is tough for you? Imagine what it's like for pregnant moms like Rebecca Maberry — and me. 

Traversing a Dallas parking lot in July is a daredevil journey for anyone. The heat radiates off the pavement, and you can feel your scalp start to burn in seconds.

But now imagine the trek with an almost 4-year-old named Bobby, and a 2 1/2-year-old named Kate.

Also? You're 25 weeks pregnant.

Maberry has a preschooler, a toddler and baby No. 3 is set to arrive in early November. She and I are both due this fall — and we happen to agree that no matter where we've tried to hide this week, the heat manages to find us.

"It's like you're walking on the sun, and kids don't move very fast. And then the car! It's even worse when you get in the car," Maberry said. "It's just kind of inescapable, unless there's a fan in my face or I'm in water."

Every trip outside feels like a marathon training session. And we shrink back from the forecast in terror.

We aren't the only pregnant women clutching iced tea like it's the elixir of life. Dr. Robyn Horsager-Boehrer with UT Southwestern Medical Center confirms that a heatwave is more challenging with a baby on the way — it's science.

"Pregnancy tends to be a state of vasodilation," she said. "Your blood vessels are bigger, they're swollen, your blood volume's increased, that in itself causes women to be a little bit warmer than normal."

She says many of her patients are finding that out the hard way.

“People never ever think about what the weather is going to be like when they are pregnant," Horsager-Boehrer said. "But that's what you hear: 'If I had known, I might have timed this differently.'"

With an even hotter weekend on the horizon, Maberry says she's running out of creative ways to entertain her kids -- and not risk heatstroke.

"We go to the pool a lot, we turn on the sprinkler in the back yard a lot, I let them ride their scooters in the house," Maberry says.

When you're nearly six months pregnant and the temperature is threatening to hit 110 degrees, an indoor scooter half-pipe doesn't seem that unreasonable to me.

As long as the AC's on.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.