Heatwaves bring plenty of sunshine and smiles, but not always for pregnant mums and new babies. It can be very hard going and, in some cases, dangerous.
According to Daily Mail reports, Researchers suggest that early birth rates rise by a staggering 27% during heatwave conditions.
Dehydration caused by excessive hot weather can result in the early onset of labour in women who are 37 – 38 weeks pregnant. Dehydration actually reduces the uterine blood supply which increases the release of hormones known to activate labour from the pituitary gland.
So the question is, how do we keep ourselves safe when pregnant during a heatwave?
The obvious solution is to keep well hydrated with water, not fizzy drinks or tea and coffee. An easy way to keep on top of water consumption is to aim to get through 2 full litre bottles each day. If you can’t drink plain water, use real fruit juice to add a bit of flavour, but make sure it’s mainly water. Sugar causes dehydration, so avoid!
Overheating can make it hard for your heart and lungs to cope, so try to wear only light clothes and stay in a cool and shady environment. Invest in a few fans for around your house to keep the air moving. Again, water will definitely help to keep your body temperature at a manageable level.
Cool damp flannels applied to your face and neck will really help to cool you down, and paddling pools are great for swollen pregnant feet. Dip and elevate! Alternate between the paddling pool and elevating your feet on a chair.
When it comes to exercise, don’t do anything too strenuous. Gentle, chilled movement in a cool room should be your maximum. If you have to walk outside for any reason, like the school run, then make sure you take water, and carry a sun brolly and wear sunglasses. Hats can cause overheating, so choose carefully. Take your phone! Make sure you have the number of your midwife or labour line saved in contacts.
Call your midwife if you are worried for any reason, especially if your face feels like it is throbbing or you can see strange patterns/lights in your vision.
If you are mum to a new baby, keep them stripped down to just a nappy (or even naked in extreme temperatures) in a cool room. Keep them hydrated. Breastfed babies do not need water, just plenty of breast milk. Bottle fed babies will need cooled boiled water as well as their regular feeds. Ask your health visitor for advice if you are unsure.
Avoid covering their car seat or pram with a blanket to block the sun as this can trap hot air in the baby’s space and cause them to overheat. Instead, invest in a dark baby net/screen for buggies/car seats which allows air flow.
Keep your car in the shade with windows open as car seats can be heat traps in a vehicle. Keep your baby out of direct sunlight, and only in their car seat for essential journeys.
Keep their bedroom cool with a ventilation and a fan, keeping the curtains closed during the day.
If your baby becomes floppy and unresponsive, call for your emergency services immediately.
Take care mums, and remember to ask your friends to help out where necessary!
You can read more about dehydration in chapter 3 of The FitMama Method book.
About the blogger:
Marie Behenna is the author of The FitMama Method, published by Souvenir Press 2012 and creator of the ChillMAMA Pregnancy Meditation
Marie teaches exercise and nutrition to pregnant and post partum mothers in North Hampshire, United Kingdom. www.fitmamastudio.com
The FitMama Method, Souvenir Press 2012