When temperatures soar, mums-to-be will feel the heat more than average, but how do you stay cool?
Here are some tips from pregnant mums that will help you stay cool and remain hydrated. We’ve also included advice from the experts to keep you and your growing baby safe, healthy and well.
What the experts say
During pregnancy, your skin is more sensitive to the sun and more likely to burn, so you need to be extra careful. Mums-to-be should stay out of the sun between 10 am and 4 pm, when UV radiation is at its strongest.
Excessive UV radiation in the early stages of pregnancy can interfere with the synthesis of vitamin B9 (folic acid), which is especially important to foetal cell division and growth. The best advice is to stay indoors during peak UV hours. However, sun avoidance can increase the risk of vitamin D deficiency, which can interfere with the absorption of calcium for healthy bones and teeth. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends a daily vitamin D supplement during pregnancy.
Stay indoors at the hottest time of the day in a ventilated or air-conditioned area
Wear as little clothing as possible when you are at home
Rest or move about more slowly than normal - don’t rush to appointments
Keep the bedroom temperature between 16°C (61°F) and 18°C (65 °F) - you will sleep more comfortably
Wet towels and bottles of frozen water will help reduce room temperature
To prevent the sun heating up the house, keep the blinds/curtains drawn
Keep your metabolism steady by eating small, regular meals. Large portions increase metabolism and generate more body heat
Anna from Winchester says “Avoid using the oven - it heats up the house.”
Out and about
If you do need to venture out in hot weather, try scheduling activities earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler.
It also helps if you:
Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting, breathable clothing made from natural fibres such as cotton
Avoid synthetic fibres such as polyester that can make you sweat
Wear a wide-brimmed hat to provide shade and keep your head cool
Keep to shady places such as a shopping mall or library
Sarah from Figheldean says “Dust your skin lightly with corn flour – it absorbs sweat and makes you feel more comfortable.”
Avoid sunscreen - it may contain harmful toxic ingredients, which can cause serious problems in the growth and sexual development of your growing baby. Check out the Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) guide to sunscreens that are chemical-free.
Due to hormonal changes, an increase in blood supply to the skin, and a slightly higher temperature in pregnancy, you are likely to sweat more and lose vital fluids. It is important to stay hydrated.
Drink more water than usual so that you never become thirsty. A glass of water every 30 minutes or so will prevent dehydration Avoid salty foods, which retain water and increase blood pressure Drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages Eat ice cubes and keep trays stocked up in the freezer Avoid drinks with large amounts of caffeine such as tea, coffee, chocolate, and energy drinks
Restrict caffeine intake to 200mg or less daily during pregnancy. High levels of caffeine can lead to low birth weight and may even cause miscarriage. Some ingredients in energy drinks are considered safe in moderation, while others are potentially harmful to your growing baby. Energy drinks can have as much as 200mg of caffeine per serving.
A fan can cool you down and circulate air around the room, but don’t rely on it as your primary cooling device during a heatwave. A cool shower, bath or sponge bath is a much better way to keep cool.
Wash frequently to help you feel fresh Sit in a cold paddling pool Place a cool, damp flannel on your pulse points Wrap a tea towel soaked in cold water around your feet at night Mist yourself with cold water or spray from a garden hose
Vicky from Salisbury says “I stick my feet in a bowl of cold water. It is so refreshing!”
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Strong, rapid pulse Extreme weakness or fatigue Throbbing headache Dizziness Nausea Confusion Muscle cramps Elevated body temperature Fast and shallow breathing
Your growing baby
The sun itself will not hurt your growing baby, but it may cause problems if your body temperature rises or you become dehydrated. If you become uncomfortable in the sun, find a cool area or seek an air-conditioned environment, rehydrate, and rest.
Dr Lin Day
Day, L. (2008). The chemical evolution. Early Years Educator 10 (4): 24-26
Day, L. (2010). Chemical evolution 2. Early Years Educator 11 (7): 31-33.
Day, L. (2010). Fresh air and sunshine. Early Years Educator 12 (4): 28-30.
Day, L. (2014). Vitamin D and sunlight. Early Years Educator 16 (4): 16-18.