Why do you feel so warm when you have a baby on board? How can you keep your cool? If you are pregnant, you probably do not need anyone to tell you that carrying a baby bump around is hot work, whatever be the weather. And if you are pregnant in the height of summer – having a baby on board can be really tough. This rise in body temperature can be due to many factors, including hormonal changes, increased blood flow and the warmth generated by the new one.
Either way, it is very difficult to know how to keep cool in hot weather, especially during pregnancy. Whether you are experiencing a steady, radiating heat or more intense and sudden hot flashes – it is all a normal part of pregnancy.
The question is, why you are more prone to feeling hot and flustered during pregnancy? Here we discuss the physiological reasons behind the temperature rise and how you can keep yourself cool.
Body Temperature Rise During Pregnancy
Is it due to the weather, or does the normal body temperature rise for all pregnant women? If you have been feeling the heat, you will be pleased to hear that temperature fluctuations are a normal part of pregnancy. In fact, it is very normal to feel warmer during these few months.
At the beginning of your pregnancy or when you see the early signs of pregnancy, there are hormone changes. These hormonal changes raise your body temperature by a small amount.
This is probably because your blood volume increases by 50 percent and the blood vessels expand slightly to allow for this change. Meaning your blood vessels move a little closer to the surface of your skin and hence make you feel warmer.
In addition, your metabolic rate also increases during pregnancy. This is to allow you to make more energy for yourself as well as for your growing baby. As a side effect, you feel warmer than you would feel normal.
So the next question is – is overheating during pregnancy common? With all these bodily changes going on inside your body, overheating does occur during pregnancy. It is true that temperature fluctuations are perfectly normal, but extreme overheating might be a cause for concern. Different doctors have different opinions. But your body temperature should not go above 38.9 deg C.
Overheating could be brought on by illness, very hot weather, dehydration, strenuous exercise or a very hot bath or shower, or a hot jacuzzi or sauna. Whatever the reason, you should talk to your doctor if you are unwell and avoid other activities that could lead to overheating.
Tips to Stay Cool During Pregnancy (Controlling Body Temperature)
You need to ensure you are properly hydrated; there are a number of steps you can take to stay as cool and comfortable during your pregnancy. These tips are especially useful during the warmer summer months but are good to try at any time of year.
1 Don’t forget to drink
It is very important to stay hydrated during pregnancy and is vital to help keep you cool. Try carrying a bottle of iced water with you when travelling by bus or train. And drink more water even if you are not thirsty.
2 Cut back on caffeine
Caffeinated drinks can help raise your blood pressure as well as your core body temperature. Instead, you can drink fresh fruit smoothie or even normal water. Caffeine is a kind of diuretic, which means they don’t encourage your body to retain a good fluid balance. Hence look for the decaffeinated versions of these beverages.
3 Eat small meals regularly
Your doctor will recommend snacking regularly to avoid large portions at mealtime. In addition, eat lighter foods, such as salads and fruits. Replace foods that are difficult to digest with alternatives such as sweet potato for a white jacket potato.
4 Eat foods with a high water content
Water-rich fruits, such as berries, melon, salad vegetables like fresh peas and cucumber, all have a high water content, which will aid hydration and help keep your body cool. Cold vegetable soups and homemade ice-lollies packed with fresh fruit juices or pureed fruits could also top the list.
5 Try swimming to control body temperature
Not only will a dip in the swimming pool cool you down, it will also help ease your aching back and swollen legs. Especially if you are struggling to carry that baby bump around all day. You can also try to work out in the water at your local swimming pool. It is an excellent way to help you keep in shape while helping you stay cool in the hot weather.
6 Take a lukewarm bath or shower
You might think that an icy shower might be the best way to cool your body down. But it is not the case. Very cold water might cause your blood vessels to constrict in reaction to the cold. This would adversely affect your body, and your body would actually preserve the heat. If you want to take a cooling shower, a lukewarm shower is your best option.
During pregnancy, your skin is more likely to become dry and flaky in hot weather, which might cause some discomfort. Hence you should keep your skin well moisturized to provide cooling, soothing relief.
8 Dress accordingly
Even on cooler days, you might find that you are feeling hot. Any kind of activity can raise your temperature more than usual while you are pregnant. Hence wear layers of clothes so that you can easily remove or add clothing as per your comfort.
9 Wear loose clothing
You should wear loose-fitting light clothing made of natural fibres like cotton or silk. Lighter colors will reflect more heat, helping you to stay cool. Cotton underwear would be more absorbent, especially in hot weather and therefore less likely to cause irritation.
10 Wear sun protection
Try to avoid the sun and stay in the shade as much as possible. If going out, use a high protection sun cream. Many women develop pigmentation on their skin during pregnancy. In some, the hormone changes during pregnancy can leave patches of darker skin pigmentation, which are often seen on the face. If your skin is exposed, you can experience a sunburn, even if you have darker skin. Hence you need to be extra careful to cover up or apply high protection sun cream.
11 Take rest to maintain your body temperature
Your ankles, feet and fingers can swell in pregnancy. This is because your body retains more water than usual. It is even worse during hot weather, at the end of the day and further towards the end of your pregnancy. Throughout the day, the extra water in your body tends to collect in the lowest parts of your body. If you notice that your hands and feet become hot and swollen – try to get lots of rest with your feet elevated. You can also put your feet in a basin of cold water. This will help to cool, soothe and reduce swelling.
12 Use a spray water bottle
A spray water bottle can be very helpful for an instant refresh during the day. Especially when your face is feeling hot or flushed. You only need to fill a spray bottle with water and spray it on to your face and body to provide a mist of cooling water. It will instantly cool your body during the water evaporation, as evaporation causes a cooling effect. If you want the water to stay cooler for a longer period, put some ice in the water.
High Body Temperature – Visit Your Doctor
If you are feeling warmer, sweating the whole day and have night sweats as well – it can be a normal part of your healthy pregnancy. Your slightly raised body temperature means you have to be extra careful when you go outdoors in the hot sun or during strenuous activity. You should consciously avoid saunas, hot tubs, hot baths and other activities that could warm your body. Basically, protect yourself and your baby from heat stress by avoiding any of the activities that could result in hot body temperatures. Any kind of heat stress can be harmful to your baby.
Discuss with your doctor if you feel that you are overheated during pregnancy. If you have night sweats together with other symptoms, you could have health complications like an infection. See your doctor urgently if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- a fever higher than 101°F
- flu symptoms
- muscle aches
Most women experience a rise in body temperature during pregnancy, thus making them more sensitive to high temperatures. Hence you need to take extra precautions to avoid overheating on days that are too hot. It will make you feel unwell and can affect your baby as well.
Several studies have suggested that during the initial twelve weeks of pregnancy, the heat can affect the developing baby leading to complications. If you get hot, it will cause your blood vessels to narrow down as you need to cool yourself. This, in turn, reduces the amount of blood and nutrients flowing through to your baby. In summary, you need to keep your body cool during pregnancy.