Stay cool hot mama
Summer’s here and the temperature is heating up, especially if you are pregnant. While the beginning of summer may normally conjure up images of seaside holidays and sun-drenched days, being pregnant in summer can be anything but a walk in the park. Don’t worry – there are many ways to still enjoy your summer and beat the heat at the same time.
Tip 1: How #@!*$ hot is it?!
Is it global warming? Who turned off the air con? Why am I constantly sweating? While the temperature may feel hotter than normal, it’s most likely not. When you are pregnant your core body temperature is already a bit higher than normal due to a combination of hormonal changes and increased blood flow. So, chances are that high external heat is going to make you feel uncomfortable, to say the least. Try these tips to stay cool when the temps are up:
- Stay indoors during extreme heat days and peak sun hours.
- Keep the air con or fans on (if the family isn’t in parkas it’s probably too hot for you)!
- Put a cool washcloth on the back of your neck, your forehead or the top of your head. Ok, you won’t look cool, but you’ll be cool.
- Avoid vigorous activity or outdoor exercise during peak sun hours.
- Stay out of direct sun, pregnant women are more sensitive to hyper-pigmentation due to hormonal changes.
- Get indoors at the first sign of weakness, fatigue or dizziness. If you still don’t feel well call your doctor.
- Drink plenty of water or electrolytes. Anything with an umbrella probably won’t benefit you in the long run.
Tip 2: Stinky People
Unfortunately, one of the hormonal side effects of pregnancy is an increased sense of smell. On ultra-hot days a crowded MTR, bar or crowded anywhere is not where you want to be. Attempts to cover up such smells with deodorants and perfumes are most likely going to have the opposite effect and make you feel sick. When you’re going through a hormonal surge and you’re more sensitive to smells, try to avoid crowded places (yes, it is possible even in Hong Kong)! Stay home and indoors or hang out with friends on super-hot days and give yourself some breathing space, literally.
Tip 3: Cankles become a real thing
One morning you wake up, and sometime during the night you lost your ankles. The definition that used to exist between your thighs and your ankles is suddenly one long sausage. This is called physiologic oedema and apart from this being unsightly, it can cause pain and discomfort. So before you resign yourself to a summer of wearing Crocs, here’s a few tips to keep the swelling to a minimum:
- Lie down with your legs elevated and do ankle circles whenever the swelling is bad
- Wear comfortable and supportive shoes – heels are not recommended
- Move! Walking and swimming are perfect for the later stages of pregnancy as long as there are no contraindications.
- Remove your rings if your hands swell. If you need a little bling go for a necklace or bracelet- nobody wants to have their rings cut off!
- Wear loose-fitting clothing that makes you feel good. Think cotton not lycra.
- Reduce, but don’t eliminate salt from your diet. Salt contains iodine, an essential element for the health of your baby.
- Reduce your sugar intake.
- Avoid standing still in one place too long.
- Don’t take any diuretic substances. They can cause the loss of electrolytes that could endanger the baby. Plus who needs to pee more??
- Drink water – it sounds counter intuitive but drinking plenty will help your system to flush out retained water.
Tip 4: Avoid being a beached whale
You’re hot, you feel huge and the last thing you want to do is move. However, it’s the best thing to do. Unbeach yourself and get into the water. Water is a lifesaver when it comes to beating the heat. And it’s not just for soaking in. Submerge yourself in these water tips to keep cool.
- Exercise in water. Overheating is something to be very aware of during pregnancy so doing exercise and activity in water is a great way to keep your temperature down. It will help cool your body, tone your muscles and soothe you at the same time. Not only will the exercise help keep you at a healthy weight, the buoyancy of the water will give your sore back and muscles a much-needed break.
- Stay hydrated. Pregnant women should be drinking at least eight glasses of water per day. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty; by the time your body registers thirst you will already be suffering the effects of dehydration which is very unhealthy for both mama and baby. Take a bottle of water wherever you go and avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks as they will further dehydrate you.
- Avoid ice cold baths. Don’t let the heat drive you to submerge yourself in a bath of ice water. Believe it or not, you will just end up feeling hotter. Exposure to extreme cold constricts the blood vessels and sends signals to the body to retain heat. For the same reason, super cold drinks will also not cool you down. So, opt for a lukewarm shower, a slightly cool drink even though you’d rather spend the day swimming with polar bears.
Tip 5: You’re only as cool as your outfit
This was true in high school and now that you’re pregnant it’s true once again. Albeit not in the same vein. The last thing you need when you’re hot and sweaty is clothing that contributes to it. The first thing to address should be your underwear. Cool, cotton undies are the way to go. Synthetic fibres and tight-fitting garments may contribute to an overgrowth of yeast, give you a spotty bottom and definitely make for a cranky mama-to-be. You may even want to steal your partner’s boxer shorts. Stick to the same principals when choosing sleepwear. Nighttime can be especially hot for pregnant women. Between night sweats and hot flashes your hormones add to the heat you’re feeling. Wearing a fabric that is non-constricting, natural and cool is key. Try to also use a pillow made of natural fibres such as feather or down rather than synthetic materials to keep a cool head.
Tip 6: Put down the burger….
While the upside of pregnancy means you get to indulge in a few cravings now and then, summer is a particularly important time to pay attention to food safety. With BBQs galore, raw salads abound and outdoor gatherings everywhere so are the increased dangers of undercooked or tainted food. If at a BBQ you don’t have to abstain, but either eat your meat fully cooked or use frozen meat to BBQ. The freezing process kills parasites and will therefore ensure the meat is safe. It’s best to avoid eating underdone meat when pregnant, even if you normally love a rare steak. Avoid any foods that have been left sitting around as salads and side dishes. Make yourself a plate early and pop it in the fridge while you wait for the rest of the food to be ready. And as always be informed of what foods you should generally avoid during pregnancy.
It is possible to beat the heat and enjoy your summer while pregnant. You may have to tweak your usual summer activities a bit, but follow these simple tips and surviving the summer will be a breeze. Stay out of the sun, stay hydrated and above all stay cool, hot mama!