A UK heatwave during pregnancy can be a challenge. Here’s how to keep cool when pregnant in summer.
With temperatures in the UK set to soar into the high 30s again, it’s safe to say we’ve got a heatwave on our hands. While this may spell good news for sun worshipers, for those who are pregnant, it can be even more uncomfortable than usual. We’ve pulled together some top tips for keeping cool when pregnant in summer, along with some expert advice from Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife and founder of My Expert Midwife.
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 beating the heat this summer.
How to keep cool when pregnant in a heatwave
Wear loose 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.
“Cotton underwear is more absorbent in hot weather, therefore less likely to cause irritation or encourage environments that thrush can multiply in,” adds Lesley Gilchrist, founder of My Expert Midwife.”
Protect yourself from 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.
Lesley suggests using a high protection sun cream. “Many women develop the linea nigra, which is a darker line of pigmentation running down the centre of their bump,” she explains.
“In some women, hormones in pregnancy can leave patches of darker skin pigmentation, often on their face. Any exposed skin can experience sunburn, even those with darker skin need to be careful to cover up or apply high protection sun cream.”
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.
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.
Lesley adds: “When pregnant during the summer months, try to focus on introducing more foods that won’t encourage your body temperature to rise, such as carbohydrates.
“Try snacking regularly to avoid large portions at mealtimes and eat lighter foods such as salads and fruits. Try replacing foods which are more difficult to digest with alternatives such as sweet potato for a white jacket potato.”
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!
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.
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.
“Try Spritz to Uplift – an invigorating spray with neroli and grapefruit essential oils which can help to rejuvenate energy levels and give you the little extra that you need, right when you need it,” adds registered midwife Lesley.
Don’t forget to moisturise
You’re more likely to suffer from dry, flaky skin in hot weather, and so keeping your skin well moisturised will improve any itchy, tight skin. While lathering on thick creams may not appeal in the middle of hot stuffy day, it will hopefully, provide soothing, cooling relief.
“Itching and scratching during pregnancy is much more common than you might think,” explains Lesley, “Combining itchy skin with warmer weather probably won’t improve this irritating situation, so remember to keep your skin moisturised.”
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.