- Laura Fitzsimmons, Pharmacist Manager, Collector's Hill Apothecary
SUMMER PREGNANCY SURVIVAL GUIDE
Feeling hot this summer? Unfortunately, this is a common symptom of pregnancy and the hot summer days and humid climates can be challenging for many pregnant women. Your core body temperature is already a few degrees higher than average when pregnant, and most women know that they shouldn’t sit in a hot sauna or spend time a long time in a hot tub. However, what many women don’t realise is that only taking a long walk on a hot day or wearing incorrect clothing can potentially put you and your baby at risk. While pregnant, your body goes through considerable changes. Not only do you have an ever-growing bump which makes everything a little more complicated, but you are also likely to be:
• Carrying an extra 25-35lb in body weight
• Have around 30-50% more blood pumping through your body
• Have a raised core body temperature
All of this is likely to cause you to sweat more, thus increasing the likelihood of you becoming overheated. According to the American Pregnancy Association, overheating while pregnant doesn’t just cause you to feel uncomfortable, it can be potentially damaging to the baby’s development, especially during the first trimester. Becoming overheated is increasingly common in hot climates, and you must look out for potential symptoms of overheating and know how to manage them.
Signs that you may be overheating include:
• Dehydration - This is a result of your body losing water faster than you are taking it in and means that your body does not have enough water to carry out its normal daily functions. When pregnant, water plays a massive role in your baby’s development through its role in the placenta, which provides the baby with nutrients. It is therefore particularly important to avoid dehydration in pregnancy to prevent more severe complications such as neural tube defects, premature labour and congenital disabilities. Dehydration can present itself in many ways depending on its severity, and so it is essential to be aware of the symptoms.
Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration may include:
1. Dry or sticky mouth
3. Feeling thirsty
4. Dark urine or the decreased need to urinate
In some severe cases, dehydration can also trigger Braxton-hicks contractions or more severe symptoms such as rapid heartbeat and low blood pressure.
• Feeling weak, dizzy and lightheaded - During pregnancy, your cardiovascular system undergoes dramatic changes. Your heart rate goes up; your heart pumps more per minute and the amount of blood in your body increases between 30-50%. While in most cases your blood vessels dilate, and blood pressure will return to normal there may be occasions where your body doesn’t adapt as quickly as it should leaving you feeling dizzy and lightheaded. Numerous factors can cause this to happen such as low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), vasovagal syncope (the feeling of dizziness when you strain to cough, pass urine or have a bowel movement) dehydration or anaemia but can also be caused by overheating. When you are too hot, your blood vessels will dilate, causing a sudden drop in blood pressure and can often lead to fainting.
Other symptoms of overheating can include heat rashes, tiredness, feeling lethargic, breathlessness and also nausea and vomiting. Like the 1 million expectant moms last summer, I can tell you that the hot, humid days are no fun when you are pregnant and so here are some ideas to keep you from overheating and keep your baby safe even on the hottest of days. Should you experience any of these symptoms, ensure you speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
Keep Hydrated- Drinking at least 8-12 glasses of water is vital in preventing dehydration; however, you may need to increase this to 12-13 glasses per day if it is particularly hot or you are working out. You may also want to reduce your caffeine intake as this can act as a diuretic, thus increasing urine output and causing further dehydration.
Wear loose and comfortable clothing - When you are battling the heat, it is important to dress smartly. Avoid wearing warm or tight-fitting clothing as it is likely to make you feel overheated. Instead, wear light-coloured, loose-fitting apparel made of natural fibres. And, layer your clothes so you can remove something to help you feel more comfortable if needed.
Exercise - Exercise is healthy for expectant mothers; however, strenuous exercise in the heat with insufficient rehydration can be dangerous. Ensure you stay well hydrated while exercising and avoid the hottest times of the day to do so. Swimming is a particularly useful exercise in pregnancy as it not only keeps you cool, unlike other forms of aerobic exercise, but the water helps to support your extra weight.
Keep cool at work – Given the short maternity leave period in Bermuda, the majority of women will try to work as late in their pregnancy as possible which often means you are working long hours when you are in your third trimester. Make sure you are taking regular breaks to hydrate and walk around as well as making sure your offices are well ventilated.
Travel light - Summer is one of the most popular times for travel, and so while light exercise is encouraged during pregnancy, heavy lifting is not. Avoid packing oversized bags that needed to be lifted into the overhead bins or get help lifting if required.
Stay out of the sun - A pregnant woman’s skin is much more sensitive to sun exposure, and so it is recommended that you take extra precaution if in direct sunlight. There are also a few studies out there linking UV rays to folic acid deficiency, and your skin is much more susceptible to UV induced discolouration. Some recommendations suggest that you:
• Stay out of the sun altogether or avoid peak times for sun exposure
• Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
• Ensure that you continue to take your prenatal vitamins regularly
• Wear loose, comfortable clothing as well as a hat
• Use a sunscreen of SPF 30 or more and re-apply at least every two hours (more often if you are in and out the water).
• Pick the right sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen which will offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays and use a cream sunscreen rather than a spray as The International Agency for research on carcinogens have classified the ingredient titanium dioxide as a carcinogen when inhaled. It is also essential to try to avoid sunscreens containing the ingredient oxybenzone which links to low birth weights according to some studies.
• The Phoenix Stores have a broad range of sunscreens available, and any of our pharmacists would be happy to help with any questions that you may have regarding your pregnancy. Good luck, enjoy the summer and stay cool!
At The Phoenix Stores, we are always ready to answer any questions or concerns regarding your health and wellness, so feel free to call in and speak to any of our pharmacists.