A UK heatwave during pregnancy can be a challenge. Here’s how to keep cool if you’re pregnant this summer…
It is lovely to have some sunshine after what feels like a very long winter, but for those who are pregnant, it can be a double-edged sword as extra weight, extra blood flow and hormonal changes can all contribute to feeling more uncomfortable than usual.
We know that a warm spell in the UK doesn’t tend to last for long, so make the most of having a good excuse to not do too much. Put your feet up, enjoy a glass of lemonade and check out these tips on staying healthy throughout the summer…
Wear cotton clothes
It may sound obvious, but make sure you wear clothes made from natural fibres such as cotton or linen. It’s amazing how many clothes (especially stretchy maternity ones) are made from man-made materials, such as nylon or viscose, which really don’t allow your skin to breathe. Also, try to avoid dark-coloured clothes (which will naturally attract the sun) and stick to loose-fitting clothing to help keep the air circulating around your body and avoid unsightly sweat patches.
Avoid sitting in the sun
As a general rule, you should avoid sitting in the sun for too long but, of course, it’s impossible to stay in the shade at all times. SPF is an essential (look for the most natural brands), especially as your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy and the sun can accelerate melanin production, leading to pigmentation.
Put your feet up
Many pregnant women find that they swell in the heat, which can make you feel even more uncomfortable. This is water retention, or oedema, which mostly affects feet, ankles and hands. It may sound counterintuitive but drinking plenty of fluids, and minimising your salt intake, can help. If possible, avoid standing for long periods of time and try to keep your feet raised. If you experience sudden swelling, see your doctor as this can sometimes be a sign of pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure.
It’s really important to keep up your fluid intake during pregnancy, especially at this time of year, so carry a bottle of cold water around with you. Lukewarm water just doesn’t hit the spot, so be sure to leave it in the freezer overnight so it defrosts during the day. If water doesn’t float your boat, mix things up with homemade lemonade or ginger and lemongrass water. If you have been sweating a lot, you may want to consider orange juice
or milk to help replace lost electrolytes.
Beware of the BBQ
Nothing says summer like a barbecue, but make sure when eating meat or fish that it is properly cooked. Sausages can blacken quickly but still be raw inside. One option is to cook the meat in the oven and then pop it on the barbecue for that chargrilled flavour. Avoid homemade mayos (often made with raw egg) and any food which has been wilting in the heat for too long.
READ MORE: How to keep your baby cool in hot weather
Some foods are more refreshing than others. You probably won’t feel like tucking into beef casserole in the height of summer anyway, but choose foods with high water content such as cucumber, iceberg lettuce and watermelon. Don’t forget to keep it balanced, though – cucumber, although refreshing, won’t give you all the nutrients you need to nourish yourself and your baby!
Have a handbag of tricks
Pop a hand-held fan and water spray in your handbag to use when you are overheating while on the go. Give yourself a little spritz with water first and then use the fan. It works as an instant cooling fix as the water evaporates off you.
Go for a swim
It is good to continue with exercise while pregnant and it can help reduce swelling
but nobody wants to go on a brisk walk in the heat. The perfect solution is swimming – weight-less exercise in cool water. Check out your nearest lido or swimming pool. If swimming isn’t an option, try light walking or exercising gently at the coolest time of the day and where possible stick to a shady route.
Use a damp cloth
You might have seen damp cloths being applied to feverish patients – well, it really works! Apply a cold, damp cloth or flannel to your forehead, the back of your neck or your wrists to help reduce body temperature.