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Coping with hot weather during pregnancy

Pregnant woman in summer clothes

I love a good heatwave - said no pregnant woman, ever! Although it feels wrong to complain about hot sunny weather in the UK, when you're pregnant a heatwave can make you feel extra tired, swollen and lets face it - sweaty!

There is some science behind this too - being pregnant can make coping with hot weather more difficult, partly because pregnancy raises your core body temperature slightly making you feel hotter than usual. By the 3rd trimester you are effectively carrying around your own little built in hot water bottle, giving off heat which your body absorbs. Just what you need when the thermometer says 25 degrees outside!

The good news is that there a lots of ways to help yourself feel cooler and more comfortable when you're pregnant and the temperature rises.

Stay hydrated

Pregnancy keeping hydrated

It's extra important to drink plenty and stay well hydrated when you're pregnant. You can dehydrate easily when you're pregnant, which can make you feel tired, dizzy and faint. Experts recommend aiming to drink 8 glasses of water a day, so remember not to wait until you feel thirsty to have a drink. Keep a bottle of cold water handy in your bag when you go out and take regular sips to stay hydrated. When you're at home, iced drinks can help you feel cool and refreshed too.

Keeping your cool

If you're feeling the heat, try some of these tips to help you cool down and feel more comfortable in warm weather.

  • Wear loose, thin layers and natural fibres when possible. These help the air to circulate and allow your skin to breathe and cool you down naturally.

  • If you're going outside in the sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep your head cool and your face shaded.

  • Invest in a fan (or two!). These can be really useful to have in your bedroom when you're trying to get to sleep, although check the reviews first to choose a quiet model. A handheld fan can be great for taking out and about or sitting in the garden.

  • Run cool water on your wrists and ankles to help cool the blood flowing around your body. If you have older children with a paddling pool, this is the perfect excuse to sit with your feet in the cool water for a while!

  • Take a luke-warm shower or bath to feel refreshed. Don't use cold water as this will stimulate the shiver reflex and make you feel warmer.

  • Treat yourself to an ice-lolly!

pregnant woman cooling in bath

Protect your skin

Melasma or pregnancy mask caused by the melanin in your skin reacting to light is common during pregnancy with around 50% of women experiencing it. Pregnancy hormones can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays, so cover up or stay in the shade as much as possible. If you do go out in the sun use sun-lotion with an SPF of 30 or above. The good news is that Melasma usually fades after you give birth.

Take it easy

Get plenty of rest and avoid exercise and exertion during the heat of the day. To keep your home cool, open the windows in the cool of the morning and close them by 11 am when the day is beginning to heat up. Keeping the curtains closed on the sunny side of your home will also help it stay cooler inside.

Keeping your home cooler will make it more comfortable for you to rest during the day.

Soothe swollen ankles

Pregnant woman with feet up

Swollen ankles are common during the third trimester of pregnancy and in hot weather. During pregnancy your body retains more water than it would usually making swollen ankles more likely. You can ease swollen ankles by:

  • Avoid standing for long periods

  • Rest regularly with your feet up on a stool or sofa

  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated

  • Take regular, gentle exercise during the cooler parts of the day. Regular foot exercises will help with circulation and reduce swelling.

  • Wear comfortable shoes avoiding tight straps. Or even better, go bare foot.

Sudden, severe swelling of face, hands or feet can be a sign of pre-eclampsia. If you experience sudden or severe swelling contact your medical practitioner immediately.

On the plus side, there are lots of benefits to being pregnant during the summer months. A summer pregnancy can save you a fortune on expensive maternity clothes - just bring out those floaty maxi dresses and voila, your pregnancy wardrobe is sorted. Fresh fruits are in season and ice-cream is readily available! Finally, once your baby has arrived, they will grow up having a summer birthday and lovely weather for all those outdoor birthday parties.


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