Being pregnant as the temperature rises is not always fun. Even those who love the warmer weather can feel the challenge of growing a baby in the height of summer.
But while the rest of the population are feeling lethargic and moaning about being constantly sticky and uncomfortable things can be a lot worse for those who are pregnant.
There are some risks associated with high temperatures for all of us but when you are pregnant you are at a greater risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke as your body has to work harder to cool down both you and your baby. This means the heat might affect you sooner than you would expect it to. Add to this that pregnant women are more likely to become dehydrated which may limit cooling by sweating, and you can see why it is important to take care in the heat.
Heat stroke can be very serious but even feeling a bit unwell in the heat needs to be taken seriously. If you are feeling dizzy, nauseous, tired, headaches, muscle cramps, you need to take steps to cool down and rest https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/
Lots of us worry far more about our baby than we do ourselves so the question is maybe more about how does heat affect our baby. The good news is that usually our bodies are able to manage the heat and keep your body temperature at a safe level. However, there are some risks to babies, especially in the first trimester, if your core body temperature is above 39 C. This means staying cool and avoiding exercising in the heat which can also increase your temperature.
So what can you do to stay safe?
Make sure you are getting enough fluid. When you are pregnant you need be hydrated to keep a good level of amniotic fluid for your baby, and also to help you sweat to cool your body down. If you are dehydrated you might experience more Braxton Hicks contractions. Keep an eye on the colour of your urine which should be a pale colour if you are well hydrated. All drinks count when you are looking at hydration so you might opt for water but fruit juices, smoothies and hot drinks (if you really want!) will all count. Don’t forget you might need a drink at night so having a bottle of water by your bed can be handy. You’ll probably be up for a night time toilet trip or two anyway!
Choose cool clothes
You might not feel like your pregnancy look is ‘cool’ so let’s go for cool in temperature if you feel fashion is not your thing just now. Loose, floaty clothes in linen or cotton are probably going to be your best bet for keeping cool. It is really hard when you don’t want to spend out on a whole new wardrobe so it is worth seeing what you can adapt or borrow, especially as it might not be needed for long. A long skirt that you can wear under your bump might work with a top that covers your bump or even a loose fitting dress (it really depends on how big your bump is). You will probably want to avoid over the bump trousers adding an extra layer to your tummy.
If you know you aren’t going to need those maternity jeans again maybe turn them into shorts for the summer months.
Buy the paddling pool now!
If you are likely to want a paddling pool for your baby to splash about in next summer you might as well buy it now and take advantage yourself. You don’t need to get right in and splash about with your toys but sitting in a shady spot with your toes in the water can be really cooling. If a paddling pool isn’t for you just popping your feet in a bowl of cool water will do the same job.
Rest and put your feet up
Once those feet are cooler put them up. Swelling is more common in hotter weather so keeping your feet elevated will hopefully minimise swelling of your feet and ankles. You might notice your fingers are a bit swollen too and again some cool water and rest can help.
If the temperature is high it is worth thinking about your plans for the day and deciding what you need to get done or could postpone. You might decide that resting somewhere cooler is better than getting your exercise done for a few days.
Early or late?
Or you might want to adjust your timings and enjoy the cooler part of the day. Get up and out early or make the most of cooler, light evenings to go for a walk or run errands. Ideally avoid 11am-3pm and find the shade where you can. Your skin is more sensitive in pregnancy (thanks hormones) so you are more susceptible to sunburn. Use sunscreen and make sure you have your sun glasses and hat with you.
Keep cool in the house
When your safe place is hot, hot, hot, it is no fun. There are a few things you can do to try and keep the temperature down in the house so you can be more comfortable if you are keeping out of the sun.
Keep the blinds and curtains shut on the windows where the sun is shining. If it is a day of sun you will need to change this throughout the day to keep the heat of the sun out of each room.
Open the windows or doors but make sure you open some across the house so you get the benefit of any breeze blowing through. If there is no breeze, just hot humid air you might be better keeping the windows closed in the hottest part of the day.
If you have a fan set it to rotate but if you feel it is just blowing hot air around it might not be the best option. You can freeze a bottle of water and then stand it in front of the fan so the cold gets blown around more. Soak a cloth in cold water or even pop a damp cloth in the fridge or freezer to cool your forehead or neck.
Whether you love the heat or always hide away until the storm hits it is worth taking a few sensible precautions when you are pregnant. And don’t forget it isn’t just about the odd heatwave at home, you might want to think about where you take that last child free holiday if you are finding the heat a challenge.