Staying cool during pregnancy

Summer is here, and while everyone else performs a little sun worship dance, being pregnant in hot weather can be challenging, especially during the third trimester. As well as feeling generally uncomfortable, hot weather or a heatwave can also have its dangers - dehydration, fatigue, and even heat stroke - so it’s important to find ways of keeping cool when you are expecting. Here are some of our top tips:

Stay hydrated

Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to help prevent dehydration – aim for at least 8 glasses of water a day, more if it’s very hot or you’re sweating a lot. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to grab a drink - and steer clear of caffeine, which can make you feel more dehydrated. Keep a bottle of chilled water close by during the day and at night, keep some water nearby to stay cool (even if it means a night-time trip or two to the toilet!)

Stay out of the sun

Avoid being in the sun for long periods. This sounds obvious, but actually, many pregnant women also find their skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, with some developing a condition called chloasma - brown patches on the face which appear darker after sun exposure - so it’s wise to be extra cautious if you have to be outside in the sun for extended periods. Invest in a good quality sun protection with a high SPF (ideally 50) and head for the shade.

Dress for the weather

Wear light, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing to allow air to circulate close to your skin to help cool you down. Stick to natural fabrics such as linen or cotton and when you are out and about, wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses. A small battery operated fan is a great idea to pop in your handbag!

Keeping cool at night

The heat can make bedtime unbearably uncomfortable during pregnancy, so keep bedding to a minimum to avoid overheating. Choose breathable sheets made of 100% natural fibres, preferably cotton or linen, in a light colour. Fill a hot water bottle and leave it in the fridge until it’s cold or invest in a fan to circulate cool air around the bedroom - putting a large bottle of frozen water in front of it gives instant air-conditioning. Leaving your curtains or shutters closed in the day will also stop the heat coming in when the sun is at its strongest.

Adjust your exercise

It’s important not to over-exert yourself, particularly in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and towards the end of the third trimester, so you may need to adjust your exercise plan, particularly during a heatwave. Take advice if necessary, pace yourself and always make sure you have a water bottle with you if you are exercising. Aim for early morning or late evening walks when the heat is bearable.

Put your feet up

Ankles, feet and fingers can swell in pregnancy, as your body retains more water than usual and hot weather can make this worse, so try and avoid doing too much when it’s hot. Avoid standing for long periods, wear comfy shoes and put your feet up as much as possible. Gentle foot exercises during the day may also help reduce ankle swelling. Enjoy chill time on the sofa; after all, when else will you have the opportunity to take time out and relax once baby arrives?!

Cool down

A spray water bottle can be great for an instant refresh during the day when your face is feeling hot or flushed. Fill a spray bottle up with water and spray on to the face and body to provide a mist of cooling water. Or, for those unbearable moments in the hot weather, simply hold your wrists under some cold running water for a moment to cool your pulse points. A cool damp flannel against your forehead, or on the back of your neck is another effective way to cool down fast.

If you feel faint or unwell in the heat, look for a cool, shady or air-conditioned area to sit or lie down in and drink plenty of water. Heatstroke is a medical emergency so seek medical advice if you continue to feel ill in the heat, or you are worried you might be dehydrated or have heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Red flags to look out for are dizziness, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, headache and nausea. You can read more on the NHS website.

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