Pregnant During the summer? Here's how you beat the heat
by sinitta bajaj
Beat The Heat: A Guide To Sailing Through Pregnancy During The Summer
Us regular folks are having a rather tough time dealing with the heat, or rather, beating the heat this year. Climate change is the talk of the town, and yet carbon emissions are soaring, bringing along with them a series of hot bursts of wind. And yes, the wind feels like a functional hand dryer in a public restroom. You know what we’re talking about if you live in the UAE.
Being pregnant in the summer seems a bit of a challenge. Women are already battling mood swings, back pains, swollen feet, bladder control issues, and so much more - the heat presses on even more. According to doctors and scientists a woman’s body heat is already soaring when she’s pregnant, and added heat becomes cause for increased discomfort. A body temperature higher than 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit could lead to exhaustion, heat strokes, dehydration, and in some severe cases, premature birth, congenital diseases and more. If that worries you, you can rely on the fact that such severe reactions are very rare. Yet, it is significant for an expecting mother to remain cool in the summer.
Let’s slowly get into what exactly the heat does or poses to expectant mothers.
The risk ‘heat’ brings a pregnant mother
When we hear the word ‘risk’, your mind automatically goes to a place of anxiety and fear - of what’s to come and what can be done to manage control over the situation. And while your worries are legitimate, we are here to not just underline the issue for you, but also grant smart solutions and tips on beating the heat.
Let’s begin with the risks!
- Dehydration - Ladies, dehydration is your biggest foe this summer season. It is very essential for the baby to get the right amount of liquid and hydration, or for your body to be strong enough to support the baby. Drinking water helps boost the strength of red blood cells in the body, and pregnant women stand to benefit from the same at length. Some sigs of dehydration can present themselves in the following ways: nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, flushed skin, dry mouth, constipation, dark-colored urine, muscle cramps, chills, and a high or low blood pressure. Dehydration is also known to be a leading factor to the Braxton-Hicks contractions. Visit your OB GYN at regular intervals to get your hydration levels checked as part of the routine check-up.
- Swelling - Pregnant women are no strangers to swelling. This may include swelling of the feet and ankles. While this may be a normal sign in a pregnant mother, overbearing heat can escalate this very swelling, urging discomfort in the mother’s body and even trouble walking sometimes. When our body temperature rises, our blood vessels expand and excess swelling from the heat can be referred to as ‘Heat Edema’. Do book an appointment with your doctor in case of excessive swelling as it could be a telling sign for preeclampsia as well. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you can opt to take a cool shower, sit with your feet up (so as to let to blood drain out from them), or place your feet in a tub or basin of cool water. Cooling patches can also help whenever you’re having a hot flash or pain in the ankles.
- Sunburn - Scientists suggest that pregnant women get sunburned a great amount more than regular women. While this may not directly affect your baby, it could be a deal-breaker for you and an additional issue to care for while carrying a baby.
- Heat stroke - When an individual’s body temperature surpasses that of 104 degree Fahrenheit, their body is in risk of going into a heat stroke. This is perhaps a minor heart-related illness, but can be stressful for the baby and the mother in the midst of pregnancy, no matter how far along you are.
- Heat exhaustion - An episode of heat exhaustion is what leads to a heat stroke, you could refer to it as a stepping stone of sorts (but not of the positive kind, lol). In any event, heat exhaustion presents itself as symptoms of dehydration such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and more. This, like a heat stroke is stressful on the body and the baby.
- Heat cramps - We’re sure all of you, at some given point in life, have experienced regular cramps. Heat cramps tend to last longer than night cramps, and affect the calves, stomach, and lower-mid region of the body. Usually, women can target these pains with electrolytes and hydration. Hydration, ladies, is key!
As promise, we have listed all the ailing factors that could affect pregnant women in the heat. These were the physical symptoms or rather a bodily summation of what may occur if you remain in the heat too long or are affected by it in an ‘overbearing’ sense. Studies also suggest that the heat can cause mood swings, and this may be more intense than the normal mood swings experienced during pregnancy and birth in general.
It’s time for us to open up our basket of secrets and advice for how you can beat the heat, and sail through the ‘human’making phase’.
Your pregnancy checklist for the summer
Now, our checklist may some with a list of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ that you ladies may dislike. We know you try to have little pleasures, maybe a short walk around the block, a small shopping trip, a mocktail fruity drink post work, or a little fan to fit into your small purse. And these little pleasures make pregnancy enjoyable, taking you away from your bodily symptoms. However, you must calculate your activities based on the weather and of course, the health of your baby.
Try to remain indoors (when you can)
This one is a no-brainer really, and we’re not stating these by order of priority. But yes, high SPF is pertinent when stepping out, even if you feel like you’re endlessly lathering it on. Ensure to have an SPF 50+ sunscreen that provides full coverage and is long-lasting. Use it all over the body to protect the exterior from the sun.
Choose your clothes wisely
Wardrobe choices are anyways a matter of issue for pregnant women. Between finding what fits and what makes you feel beautiful, there are really very few choices. Yet, when stepping out in the sun, it is significant to have an airy outfit that can help your body breathe. Any itchy fabrics can exacerbate stress and irritation when coupled with sweat (pregnant women tend to sweat more due to their already risen temperatures). Colors can be a deciding factor on how your day in the sun is as well. Wearing light colors that don’t attract the heat can help you remain cool throughout the day. Avoid wearing black, blue, dark green, etc. (you get the gist). Wear your hair up, or if you have it down, ensure to carry a hair tie. Cover your face with appropriate hats or shades so the chances for sunburn are low.
Alright now, ladies, you have to note how an ice pack can literally help you cool down your body temperature. The trick is to target blood vessels in the body so the blood running in your body alters its temperature. All pregnant women are familiar with the concept of neck scarves that can be wrapped with ice packs to soothe the mother in a hot flash. If you are attempting to do the same, you want to target the neck and underarms with the ice packs. Barring the neck scarf technique, you can place these packs on your cheeks, feet, and palms so the body may cool down.
There is a science to how cold your ice pack should be - technically speaking. Ensure your ice pack is 55 degrees and no colder than that since this could cause your blood vessels to narrow down more than intended, also known as vasoconstriction, which we don’t need to tell is also harmful for the body. Another hack for using an ice pack is not putting it directly onto the skin as that may bring out irritation in the skin - always ensure to place an agent in the middle like a cloth or towel.
- Keep cool
- Carry a water spritz - A bottle that can squirt some cold water onto your face to provide instant relief.
- Breathable material - There are special materials made for the summer that make it easier for the body to tolerate sweat and heat. Opt for such fabrics.
- SWIM. The best way to beat the heat, relax, exercise, and just soothe out, is swimming. It is a fool-proof cooler for the body.
- Comfortable shoes and socks - Ensure to wear light shoes with breathable socks that will aid you in the heat. Anything with tight straps may discomfort you, specially in the heat.
- Carry an umbrella (self-explanatory)
- Rest up your body - At intervals, when you’re in the sun, take a break or sit down somewhere to catch your breath.
- Travel light - Be it a matcha run, a visit to the doctor, or work, you must not carry anything heavy since it can exacerbate heat.
- Don’t wear too much jewelry - Tight jewelry such as rings, bracelets, etc. can annoy you in the heat more since your fingers may swell due to the expansion of the blood vessels.
- Reduce salt - Ladies, this one could work like a charm if opted for in the right manner. Reduce portions of salt in the food and that may help the body cool down.
Many studies and doctors relate congenital diseases and fetus impact to heat and how it can slowly affect the formation of the fetus in the womb. Not enough research has been carried out on humans to tell whether what is said is true or simply a myth. From a mother’s perspective, it is better to not leave it to chance and practice the tips or advice we have given couple with what you doula or OB GYN says. You should never hesitate to approach your doctor even if you think the heat is driving you insane and you’re overreacting. It is wise to listen to your body and react according to instinct.
We hope we were able to help you beat the heat in this horrid summer in the UAE. You can visit our products’ page to avail some of our pregnancy care items to help you through this time.