SUMMER: It is the best of times and the worst of times to be pregnant. The weather may be insufferable -- in addition to the burden of extra weight, since pregnant women generate more heat than others. But there are advantages, too: the swimming pool beckons, as do the seasonal produce and breezy, comfortable clothing.
Culled from the commonsense lore of women who have been there, as well as professionals, here are some tips on staying cool and pretty during a hot, hazy Maryland summer.
* Invest in cool, loose cotton and linen clothing, in maternity oother styles. The Glamour Guide to Pregnancy (Ballantine, 1986) recommends dresses, which "feel cooler than suits or slacks," and clothes that are unlined and can be worn without a slip.
* Don't hesitate to experiment. If you're searching for clothethat can be worn during and after pregnancy, "peasant-chic" clothing stores and mid-range chain stores seem to specialize in big, blousy and stretchy. African-style batik jumpers, drop-waist dresses, trapeze shifts and tops, mini-skirts with elasticized waists, T-shirts, stirrup pants, over-sized chemises and Hawaiian-style shirts cover a lot abdominal territory.
* Summer baubles around the collar distract from the belly.
* Search the father-to-be's closet for well-ventilated clothing thawill fit through several months of pregnancy. A man's shirt tied just below the tummy and worn with a pair of maternity shorts is a trim, smart look.
* Borrow maternity clothes from friends. Choose maternity stylethat flatter.
* Your hair can be one of your best beauty assets during pregnancy. Thanks to those hormones, it probably is looking thick and shiny. Choose a cut that takes into account your face and body profile. Hair cropped short for summer should not be a too-severe contrast to growing rotundity. A "soft and wispy cut ,, at chin level" is more complementary, the Glamour guide says. Long hair worn up -- in a pony tail, twist or braids -- is also cool and pretty.
Avoid perms and hair coloring. "We tell all our patients, 'no permanents and no hair dye,' during pregnancy," says Dr. Steven A--ek, an obstetrician/gynecologist who practices at Union Memorial Hspital and is a clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Some chemical is probably absorbed through the scalp. We know it can't be good for the baby."
* Hormones can be kind in pregnancy, creating clear, glowing complexions and strong, long nails. But some women are prone to acne caused by hormonal imbalances, and summer's humidity and heat can make them worse. To keep break-outs in control, the authors of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (Workman Publishing, 1984) recommend eating plenty of green leafy and yellow vegetables and fruits high in Vitamin A, as well as drinking a lot of water, which rids the system of impurities.
* Pregnant women, especially, need to follow three basiskin-care steps: "Cleansing, toning and moisturizing," says Jacqueline Kami, esthetician at the Baltimore salon A Cut Above. For those susceptible to blemishes, "One has to be very meticulous in cleansing and toning, especially at night," says Kami, who estimates that 20 percent of her clients are currently pregnant. "Use a very light moisturizer on areas that really require it -- around the eyes, which need a little extra help."
* During pregnancy, extra pigmentation, stimulated by estrogen hormones, can cause dark splotches on the face known as the mask of pregnancy or chloasma. A dark line down the center of the abdomen called linea nigra may also appear. Exposure to the sun can exacerbate this condition. "If you want to lessen that, especially during summer, you need to wear sun screen" on your face (and your stomach, should you wear a two-piece swimsuit), says A--ek.
* Puffy eyes, caused by water retention, can get even puffier in summer. Apply cotton pads dipped in ice water to the eyes or cover both eyes with a damp washcloth. Remove after five minutes.
* Swelling feet are a sorry predicament for pregnant women, especially those who must be on their toes. Wear sling-back and open-toe shoes during the last trimester. Open shoes will feel less tight than pumps.
* "Being pregnant in the summer is the pits," says Cookie Rosenberg, manager of We Fit Shop, a Pikesville lingerie store. Find a well-fitting comfortable cotton bra and underpants, she advises. Although Rosenberg does not specifically suggest maternity bras and panties, she says, "You should wear supportive undergarments, always, whether in summer or winter."
* To keep cool and fit, "swimming is wonderful," A--ek says. "It's probably the best exercise a pregnant woman can do. There's no undue strain on the joints, it's good aerobic exercise and it keeps you cool."
* Stretchy Lycra, Spandex and nylon bathing suits can taksome women a long way through pregnancy. When they won't do, one-color or gently-patterned maternity suits, particularly in the blouson style, are tasteful and flattering. For women with a European sense of physical ease, there are always bikinis!
* Allow yourself the comfort of a good night's sleep. It makes a world of difference in your physical well-being and appearance.