The dangers of overheating during pregnancy, PLUS 6 tips to stay cool

Pregnant women shouldn’t overheat. But for those who are heavily pregnant in the summer months, getting too hot is almost inevitable. So how do you assess whether you’re putting yourself or your baby in danger?
“There’s no danger in feeling hot,” says Dr Peter Koll, an obstetrician and gynaecologist. “The danger lies in your core temperature going up.”

What should I avoid?

Dr Koll stresses that for this to happen, there would have to be a fairly significant increase in core temperature, brought on by illness, taking a sauna or an extremely warm Jacuzzi, as well as doing some form of exercise in a heated room, like Bikram yoga. “If you’re ill during pregnancy and have a high fever, it’s very important to take paracetamol to bring the fever down. All the other activities are best avoided,” he says.

The matter of what women should avoid when pregnant is always a controversial one, says Dr Koll. For example, Scandinavian women sauna throughout their pregnancies. In general, he says that if your body’s used to regulating itself in a warm environment like a sauna before you’re pregnant, there’s probably no significant risk in continuing once you’re pregnant.

He adds that in most instances, simple activities like taking a warm bath, moderate exercise or enjoying the outdoors are extremely unlikely to have any effect on your core temperature. “If you’re in a warm environment and you start to feel dizzy or faint, don’t panic; just take measures to cool yourself down.”

ALSO SEE: 10 things to avoid during pregnancy

Why do I feel so hot?

Dr Koll says that pregnant women feel the heat more intensely because the baby’s generating heat inside them. To relieve that heat, the mom’s body dilates the blood vessels close to the skin. The increased blood flow causes her to feel hotter. But it’s actually her body working very efficiently to keep her core temperature within the normal range.

What about exercise?

Exercise obviously warms you up. But Dr Koll explains that again, this has more to do with feeling hot than raising your core temperature. “The concern with exercise is that it elevates your heart rate, which can be risky for your pregnancy,” he notes.
He advises buying a heart monitor and ensuring that your heart rate doesn’t go above 140 beats per minute, or making sure that your level of exertion would still allow you to hold a normal conversation while exercising.

ALSO SEE: 9 pregnancy exercise myths busted

How do I stay cool?

  • Remove any excess clothing
  • Sit in the shade
  • Take dips in the pool or the sea and find a way to get air to move across your skin to cool you down – either an aircon or a fan.
  • Drink lots of fluids. With the increased blood flow to the skin, the sweat glands are also working harder to release sweat to help cool you down. Make sure that this process doesn’t dehydrate you, so drink lots of water.
  • Cool your pulse points. The quickest way to cool yourself down is to hold both wrists, with your palms facing upwards, under tepid running water for a few minutes. This gently cools your pulse points, where your blood is close to the surface, decreasing your core temperature.
  • Control your breathing –  this will also help you to cool down. Try pregnancy yoga classes to master the basics or you can download Pregnancy Yoga with Tara Lee, a free app on IOS, that lets you tailor your yoga to your needs.

 

scroll to top
Send this to a friend