We’ve all felt tired, overwhelmed, sticky and sweaty in a heatwave, but when you’re pregnant and already uncomfortable, with emotions, hormones and temperatures fluctuating, a heatwave can move from uncomfortable to unbearable – and getting overheated can even be dangerous so coping with a heatwave in pregnancy is really important. A heatwave whilst pregnant can put you at greater risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Here are my tips for keeping cool during a heatwave when pregnant – although they’ll stand you in good stead for when you’ve got a newborn baby or young children too!
Cool your Home and Yourself
This might seem like a no brainer to my American readers, but over here in the UK very few residences have any sort of air conditioning. You might be wondering if it’s really worth the outlay as an air conditioning unit will cost upwards of £400 and may only be used for a few weeks of the year and then need to be stored for the rest of it. Well I bought this one when I was pregnant and all I can say is I absolutely love it and highly recommend it. It can bring the temperature of a room down by 10C within what seems like minutes if running on full blast! It is a quite a large unit to store, but the comfort it gives me in the hottest part of the summer is well worth the money and the hassle. I might only use it for a few weeks a year but it makes those few weeks a breeze, whilst all my friends moan about how they can’t sleep because of the heat and then come over mine and sit in front of it.
There are much smaller standalone units that don’t need a vent or window to work which are basically upright fans with an ice chamber. You pour cold water (or ice) into the back and this is used to cool the air as it’s fanned back out. These will only drop the temperature of a room by a couple of degrees, but when there’s one blowing on you directly at night, it definitely ups the comfort levels. They are quite noisy though, but are relatively inexpensive at around £99. A couple of degrees can make a big difference in comfort levels, so they’re still a step up from fans.
If all else fails get the trusty fan out. Even though fans don’t directly cool the air, moving air flow around the room will have a refreshing cooling effect and is far better than nothing. Your fan may also come in super useful after you’ve given birth in the hospital. I had one from home next to my bed as the wards never had enough fans to meet the demand!
I use a fan at work and in my caravan during the summer as well, and this is the one I have been using for a few years. It is £50 so on the higher end of fan prices, but it’s a 30″ tower which means it moves a serious amount of air and has great features. If you don’t have the space, the window accessibility or the finances for an air conditioner or air cooler, then this is definitely a good option that is easy to store when not in use (it fits in wardrobe easily enough!)
Drinking water is a no brainer, but you need to drink even more water than usual when pregnant and then even more water again when you’re over heating! I find that putting a litre jug of water in the fridge with lemon and lime in it really helped me drink more, with lots and lots of ice readily available for when it’s needed. If you have a big jug or use a drinking water bottle, you can also track how much you’re drinking and make sure you’re keeping hydrated.
You can also get plenty of water from eating things that are moist like salad and cucumber, you can crunch ice cubes and eat ice cream and ice lollies.
Cool Yourself Down
The obvious applies, stay in the shade at all times! You could fill a kids paddling pool and have your legs in luke warm water, use cooling leg gel and keep your feet and legs elevated if you’re suffering from swollen feet. You can pop a cold water bottle into the bed to cool your sheets down and you can even put wet socks on your feet to keep your cool!
You might think that a cold shower will cool you down in a heatwave or plunging into the sea, but in fact, although it does feel very cool and refreshing at the time, fully immersing your body in cold water will cool your core, which will make your body work harder to heat it up again – then once you’re out of the water, you will end up feeling hotter than before. It’s therefore recommended that you set your shower temperature to around 33c for a warm shower for the best long-term comfort.
Don’t Overdo it
It doesn’t matter that the nursery isn’t ready or the house is a mess. You need to make sure you take it easy during a heatwave. This means you need to do as absolutely little as possible, which I know is hard, because it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not feel ready for the new addition. If you have to do housework or would like to take a walk then do it in the coolest part of the day – either in the morning before it heats up or the evening when things have cooled down. If work and home circumstances allow, taking a European siesta with a nap in the hottest part of the day after lunch will help you conserve energy and feel refreshed.
If you’re close to term, make sure you’re prepared – you could go into labour early during a heatwave!
A study has shown that if there is a heatwave lasting 4-7 days then there is a 27% chance of having an early birth. It affected women who were over 37 weeks pregnant, with those between 37 and 38 weeks being 17% more likely to give birth during a heatwave. This is significant! You might not have packed your bags yet thinking you’ve got another three weeks to go, but it’s well worth being prepared. Get a friend, family member or partner to help though, whilst you put your feet up and eat ice cream to keep your temperature down!
If you’re pregnant right now, or perhaps if you have a newborn or toddler and are finding it hard to cope with the heat, I hope that these tips have helped you. If you find anything has worked for you please leave a comment!
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