Being pregnant through the summer months is no easy feat. And if you are a mom-to-be, you are most likely wondering why the delivery date cannot come soon enough.
You are hot as it is, and the weather outside cannot let you be as it continues to make you hotter. Scorching summers can cause pregnant women to overheat, more easily causing dehydration which is typical in the summer months and dangerous for pregnant women.
While pregnancy is an exciting and interesting journey, the summer heat can make it uncomfortable. Read below for tips to get you some much-needed relief!
Are You More Prone To Overheating When Pregnant?
Yes - it is normal to feel somewhat warmer when you are pregnant. You do have a bun in the oven! Pregnancy body temperatures rise due to your body changes as it is already working hard to keep you and your baby healthy.
When pregnant, your blood volume increases by as much as 50%. And for your body to handle all that extra blood, the blood vessels dilate slightly, allowing the blood to come off the surface, which can make you feel hot.
Hot flashes while pregnant and sweating more will also occur. It will tend to increase in your third trimester as your metabolic rate increases. Although these natural causes aren't usually a cause for concern, sometimes certain activities and heat in your environment can cause your body temperature to rise further.
This can be dangerous for you and your baby. Stay away from activities that can cause your body temperature to rise to unhealthy levels. Protecting yourself from getting too hot during pregnancy is crucial. Learn the signs of overheating. They include:
- Warm skin
- Nausea from heat
- Heavy sweating
- Body temperature above 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit
- Muscle cramps
Some effects of overheating include:
- Low birth weight
- Risk of preterm birth
- Congenital disabilities
Summer Pregnancy Hazard: Dehydration
If you are pregnant during summer and your body temperature is above 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit, you are at greater risk. This high body temperature can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration.
Overheating while pregnant can also lead to adverse outcomes like stillbirth, premature birth, congenital disabilities, and low birth weight. This means that staying cool in the summer is a matter of health and not just comfort.
Getting dehydrated when pregnant can pose a risk of pregnancy complications. This makes staying hydrated vital due to the increased demands on your body. It is a recommendation that pregnant women drink 10- 12 glasses of fluid per day. Being keener on drinking the fluids/ water during the summertime as the hot temperatures speed dehydration.
You should not wait until you feel thirsty to hydrate; this will mean you've waited too long.
Below are some causes of dehydration when pregnant:
Morning sickness affects most expecting mothers, with the symptoms typically beginning at 4-6 weeks with peaks at 9-13 weeks. The symptoms include increased sweating, frequent urination, nausea, and vomiting.
The increased sweating, vomiting, and urination all increase the loss of water and electrolytes from your body, leading to dehydration. Nausea makes you not drink fluids voluntarily, making it more difficult to replace the lost nutrients.
The sudden change of diet or sensitivity to a particular food can cause diarrhea with increased hormonal production. Diarrhea is also more common in the third trimester, especially when nearing the due date.
Diarrhea leads to a severe loss of water and electrolytes from the body, making it a leading cause of dehydration in pregnant women.
Signs of Dehydration
Generally, the first sign of dehydration is feeling thirsty. You are likely to be dehydrated if you feel thirsty after spending lots of time in the heat, sweating, or going for long periods without water. Other signs include:
- Dry looking skin
- Dark-colored urine
- Dry, chapped lips
- Less frequent urination
- Muscle cramps
- Low blood pressure
- Braxton Hicks
- Heat exhaustion
Remedies of Dehydration
- Stay hydrated: the best way to stay adequately hydrated during your pregnancy is to ensure that you drink plenty of water daily. If you are experiencing ingestion, try drinking the fluids between meals.
- Use ice packs: are you familiar with cooling neck scarves? It's a cool pack meant to decrease your body temperature by being placed in areas with large blood vessels. Ensure the ice packs are at least 55 degrees. If it is a degree colder, then narrowing of the blood vessels may occur, hindering the cooling process.
Summer Pregnancy Hazard: Exposure To The Sun
Sun and pregnancy do not work well together! If you are pregnant, you should stay out of the sun and avoid tanning beds, especially during the first trimester; there are other ways of getting a summer glow but with caution. But if you are in the sun, you should use sunscreen with an SPF of 30-45.
You are more likely to suffer sunburn while pregnant as your skin is more sensitive. Overheating also makes you more susceptible to burning, hives, and heat rash.
If you are going to be out in the sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat and avoid restrictive clothes that can increase your discomfort. Instead, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes with breathable fabrics.
If you need to be outdoors during the summer, avoid the sun between the peak hours of 10 am and 3 pm. Ensure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Do not push yourself if you have any signs of weakness, dizziness, fatigue, faintness/ ill, or excessive thirst. Instead, find a cool and shady spot to sit or lie down. Drink lots of water or electrolyte replacement liquid. If the feeling persists, then you should call your doctor.
Summer Pregnancy Hazard: Swelling
Fluid retention during pregnancy can cause swelling in your legs, ankles, and feet. Hot summer can even make the swelling more pronounced. When the outdoor temperature is too hot for pregnancy, you will suffer from ''heat edema''.
Heat edema is a result of your body experiencing excess heat. Your blood vessels expand, causing body fluids to move into the tissues, and by the third trimester, the weight of your uterus puts soo much pressure on your pelvic veins and the vena cava that blood can pool, forcing fluid retention below the knees, thus the swelling.
Swelling is normal when you are pregnant but can be a risk if:
- It is in your hands and face with a headache that won't go away along with vision changes as it can be a sign of preeclampsia.
- Comes on suddenly
- It is extreme
- If the swelling is in one leg than the other and it is painful
- The swelling that comes with chest pains or difficulty in breathing might mean heart problems.
If you experience any of these red flags mentioned above, you must contact your health care practitioner immediately.
How To Avoid / Reduce Swelling Risk
Sitting in the sun while pregnant is not recommended, and staying away from the sun can help you avoid excessive swelling in the summertime. If you do find yourself suffering from heat edema, try to:
- Lie down with your feet for half an hour/ hour during the day if you can. You can also use a pillow to prop your feet as you sleep.
- Avoid rings that are too tight on your fingers.
- Minimize your salt intake, as overeating salt worsens water retention.
- Take a cool shower
- Dip your feet in a basin of some cool water.
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Get up and walk around as much as you can
- Ensure that you maintain a healthy diet as you hydrate a lot: feeding yourself and your baby protein-rich foods and healthy fats will support your health as you endure the sweltering sun.
Recognizing The Signs Of Heatstroke And Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is when you feel tired and weak after prolonged exposure to summer heat. It usually occurs with your body temperature remaining normal. In contrast, heatstroke is when your body fails to regulate its temperature and gets to a fever which can lead to unconsciousness when exposed to excessively high temperatures.
Heat exhaustion is not ordinarily severe if you can get your body to cool down within 30 minutes. If the heat exhaustion condition turns into heatstroke, it needs to be treated as an emergency.
Signs Of Heat Exhaustion
The signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Fast pulse or breathing
- Dizzy when pregnant and confusion
- Excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
- Heat-induced headache
- Cramps in the arms, legs, and stomach
- Loss of appetite and heat nausea
- Overheating symptoms with temperatures that are beyond 38C
- Getting very thirsty
Signs Of Heatstroke
The signs of heatstroke (that is an emergency) are:
- A high temperature of 40C and above
- Feeling confused
- Loss of consciousness
- Still feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
- Not sweating even when feeling too hot
- Fast breathing or shortness of breath
If you experience heat exhaustion, here are things that you can do to cool down:
- Cool your skin: you can use a spray or sponge with cool water and apply it to your skin. Cold packs are a good option around your neck and armpits. Carry yourself a spray bottle filled with water to spritz yourself periodically to keep warm
- Hydrate: hydrating is a vital factor you can not put aside when it comes to heat and pregnancy. Drink fluids/ water as much as you can. Rehydration drinks will also do to replace electrolytes that you are losing as you sweat.
- Move to a cool place: your days of sunbathing are currently on hold until you deliver your bundle of joy. This means that if you must be outside, you must hang out in the shade, wear a hat and grab an umbrella.
- Lie or sit down with your feet raised slightly
- Loosen your clothes if you have tight-fitting ones
If you experience heatstroke, you should:
- Call 911 immediately
- Do not drink water
- Move to a cooler place
Ways Of Preventing Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke
During the summer, with hot weather or exercising, you have a high risk of experiencing heat exhaustion and heatstroke. But they are preventable by:
- Taking cool baths or showers
- Avoiding the sun between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm
- Avoiding extreme exercise
- Drinking plenty of cold drinks, most especially when exercising
- Avoiding alcoholic drinks
- Eating lighter meals
- Taking a dip in the swimming pool
- Sprinkling water over your skin or clothes
- Wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
When To Call A Doctor
While you can manage summer heat, it can sometimes lead your body to overheat, which can be dangerous to your pregnancy. Be on the lookout for pregnancy warning signs during summer that warrant a call to your doctor. They include:
- Leaking fluid from the vagina
- Lack of fetal movements
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pain during urination
- Low, dull backache
- Regular contractions or cramps
- Swelling or puffiness of the face or hands
- Pelvic or abdominal pains
- Headaches or blurred vision
Are you still wondering whether you can lay in the sun while pregnant? With the scorching temperatures outside, the answer is no. The extra heat can sabotage your desire to remain cheerful until delivery.
And while there is no way to turn down the thermostat outside, there are some ways to beat the summer heat during pregnancy so that you can keep yourself cool and enjoy your last summer before the baby arrives.