How Pregnant Women can beat the Summer Heat

The heat and humidity of summer can be a huge irritant to anybody, but for pregnant women, its added misery. There are several reasons for this.

How Pregnant Women can beat the Summer Heat

Heat Intolerance is a common condition during pregnancy. This is because; the body temperature of pregnant women is a couple of degrees higher than other women or men. The summer heat then becomes an additional burden.

Physiological Edema is another condition in pregnant women where the legs swell up frequently. If the third trimester of pregnancy is in the summer months, the degree of swelling is higher.

So what can pregnant women do to beat the summer heat?

General Tips

Swimming: Swimming takes the load off the sciatic nerve which causes discomfort to pregnant women. This and the cooling that comes from swimming is why it's highly recommended during pregnancy.

Clothing: Pregnant women are prone to heat rashes under the breasts and abdomen. To prevent this, wear light fabrics that breathe and keep you cool, thereby preventing excessive sweating.

Keeping yourself cool: Carry a bottle filled with water all the time. You can squirt water from this on to your face, or make a wet-pack with a kerchief and apply on the face.

Exercising: Choose cooler times of day (other than 10 am to 2 pm) for exercising and do not over-exercise as it can heat up your body.

Exposure to sunlight: Do not expose yourself to the mid-day sun, directly, as you are more vulnerable to sunburn during pregnancy.

Drinking fluids: Water or electrolyte replacements must be consumed every hour when you are outdoors. This will keep you hydrated. Drink 240 ML or nearly 3/4ths of a glass.

Exerting yourself: Do not exert yourself in vigorous activities during the peak hours of the day (10 am to 2 pm), especially when you are outdoors.

Sunscreen: Pregnant women who are exposed to a lot of sunlight develop what is called the รขโ‚ฌหœmask of pregnancy' due to increased melanin production. To prevent this, avoid excessive exposure to sunlight, and if unavoidable, use sunscreen or sunblock. Pregnant women on the fairer side should use SPF 30 or 45.

Watch out for these: If you are outdoors and are experiencing dizziness, fatigue, weakness, light-headedness, nausea or excessive thirst, get indoors immediately. Lie down and consume cool water or any electrolyte replacements. If you are still uncomfortable, call your gynecologist.

Other Dos and Don'ts

Dos

  • Working women who are pregnant must lie down for half an hour to one hour during lunch time or end of the day
  • Always lie down or sleep with your legs elevated, by keeping a pillow or rolled-up blanket under your feet.
  • Avoid wearing heels and wear shoes that are comfortable and one size larger than what you normally wear.
  • Every alternate day, or three times a week, walk at a comfortable pace for around 30 minutes during cooler times of the day.
  • Avoid wearing finger rings during pregnancy due to the mild swelling of fingers that is common during pregnancy. In such a case, finger rings constrict the blood flow.

Don'ts

  • Wear loose and comfortable clothes and avoid tight clothes that constrict the waist.
  • Do not stand for long in general and never in one place for too long.
  • Reduce your salt intake as it can aggravate swelling. However don't cut out salt altogether as it contains iodine which is required for a healthy development of the fetus.
  • Be careful and avoid consuming diuretic substances anytime during pregnancy. Diuretics dehydrate your body or cause loss of electrolytes which can be dangerous to the fetus.

Follow the above tips religiously and you can avoid any discomfort due to the summer heat. That will help you stay positive and look forward to your big day.

Article by Dr. Divya Raghavendra Rao, M.B.B.S, M.S (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology
Kauvery Hospital, Chennai

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