7 Dangerous Effects of Heat On Pregnancy and Their Solutions!
Pregnancy is a hot period for a woman. When the body temperature of an expectant mother rises to more than 39 degrees centigrade, that is considered as overheating. Clinically, overheating during pregnancy is termed as hyper-thermia. According to doctors, an expectant mother might not feel uncomfortable even when the body temperature increases. However, you can know that you are overheating if you feel dizzy, nausea, weak and tired, light-headedness, and dehydrated.
During pregnancy, the following are the leading causes of overheating:
- Using a hot sauna or Jacuzzi
- Excessive exercise during hot weather
- Fever due to some underlying medical conditions
- Prolonged strenuous physical exercise
- Soaking in a warm bath
High temperatures are a major cause of heat diseases that are prevalent among the sick, elderly, children, and pregnant women. Research has found accumulating evidence of the close relationship between heat and pregnancy complications such as stillbirths, premature births, and other pregnancy-related complications. According to these studies, an increase in temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit leads to a corresponding rise in premature births by 8.6 percent.
Dangers of Overheating
Overheating during pregnancy is not good both for you and your developing baby. The following are some of the dangerous effects of overheating during pregnancy:
1. Affects fetus development
Studies indicate that temperatures above 39 degrees centigrade can lead to neural tube defects in the developing fetus. This development defect takes place when the neural tubes fail to close 25 days after conception. Besides that, high body temperatures can cause palate and cleft lip in the developing fetus. Therefore, overheating during the first trimester when the fetus is developing to lead to severe developmental defects in the fetus.
Melasma is a skin medical condition whereby the skin develops grayish or brownish patches of pigmentation. These patches usually occur on the face. This condition is also referred to as a pregnancy mask. It is generally caused by overexposure to the sun.
According to studies, this condition is common to more than 50 percent of expectant mothers. It is critical to protect yourself from the direct sun UV rays in order to prevent melasma from developing. You can protect yourself from the UV rays by avoiding exposing yourself to the sun when it is strong, applying suntan lotion, wearing a sun hat when you are going out, and so forth.
3. Swollen ankles
Another common effect of heat on expectant mothers is the swelling of ankles, fingers, and feet. This is caused by the retention of more body fluids than usual. This condition is worse when the body temperature is higher, and you are pregnant.
During the day, the body fluids tend to accumulate on the extremities of the body more especially during hot days. In addition to that, this condition is worsened by standing for long periods of time. Also, the pressure of the growing tummy can affect the proper flow of blood to the feet, which can encourage the accumulation of water on the feet, ankles, and toes.
If during pregnancy, you experience sudden swelling of the feet, hands, and sometimes face, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Those might be signs of a serious medical condition such as preeclampsia.
4. Heat Exhaustion
Another common effect of overheating during pregnancy is heat exhaustion. It occurs when an expectant mother is overexposed to heat.
Some of the signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Increased thirst
- Profuse sweating and the skin turning pale
- Body temperature rising above 39 degrees centigrade.
- The skin becoming clammy
- Increased pulse
- Breathing faster
- Confusion accompanied by dizziness
- Sickly feeling
- Loss of appetite
If an expectant mother shows these signs of heat exhaustion, help her to cool down. You can help her move to a cool place either under a shade or indoors. You can cool her by spraying her with some cold water or turning on the fan. Let her lie down and lift her legs higher than the head. Let her drink water to rehydrate. She will be okay within half an hour.
Heatstroke is a severe medical emergency for an expectant mother and can be fatal if it is not treated quickly.
Some of the signs of a heat stroke include the following:
- Loss of consciousness
- Feels dry and hot
- Has shortness of breath or breathing very fast
- The patient does not sweat even when she is too hot
- The body temperature rises above 40 degrees centigrade
- Has a seizure or fits
If she does not get well within 30 minutes of fast aid, call 911 for emergency medical attention.
Another effect of overheating during pregnancy, more especially during the first trimester, is dehydration. Besides that, it can lead to the development of nausea and dizziness. As you exercise, you will sweat hence loosing the water from the body. When too much water is lost from the body, you will feel thirsty and dry.
However, sweating is not an indicator of how hot you are. To avoid being dehydrated, ensure that you do not over-exercise more especially during the hot days.
In addition to that, ensure that you drink a lot of water. Drinking plenty of water will not only help to stay hydrated, but also it will keep your body cool, and you will be able to perspire freely.
7. Heat Intolerance
When a woman becomes pregnant, her body temperature increases than normal, so when there is an increase in temperature on the outside, it makes the mother uncomfortable. Therefore, an expectant mother becomes heat intolerant whenever there is heat.
So, if the heat index on a given day is higher than normal, then you should stay in a cooler place. Besides that, you should hydrate yourself well to prevent becoming dehydrated.
However, be careful not to drink too much water, which can lead to water intoxication. Water intoxications lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, and in severe cases, unconsciousness due to the dilution of the body electrolytes.
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1. Avoid Dehydration
If you do not drink enough water, your body will not sweat much. If you are not perspiring enough, it will lead to high body temperature. Besides that, when you are not drinking enough water, it can result in blood loss and more toxins accumulating in your body.
Drinking enough water, on the other hand, can help prevent preterm labor. As an expectant mother, ensure that you drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Also, if you are engaged in any physical exercise, make sure you drink more water. You can increase the amount of water you drink by sweetening it a little. You can squeeze a lemon into the water to make it palatable.
2. Wear loose-fitting and light clothes
When you are choosing your pregnancy clothing, ensure that you choose one that is loose and light. In addition to that, dark colors absorb more heat, which will make you feel more heat as compared to bright-colored clothing. Bright colors help to repel or bounce back the light hence keeping you cooler.
Therefore, if you want to stay fresh, go for light clothing. To avoid developing rashes and sweating, go for synthetic fabrics such as cotton and linen. In addition to that, loose clothing is better than fitting clothes during pregnancy more especially when you are engaged in physical activity or during hot days.
However, you need to keep at the back of your mind that the fabric you choose the amount of sun rays it allows to penetrate is the one that will reach your body. And very loose clothing will not block much of the sun’s rays.
3. Stay under a shade
Truth be told, you cannot stay all day indoors, you need some fresh air outdoors. If you want to go out, ensure that you stay under a shade so that you can feel comfortable and cool. Besides that, ensure that you hydrate yourself well so that you can prevent feeling thirsty, dizzy, tired, or lightheaded due to exposure to heat.
Regardless of the level of heat outside, it is paramount to protect yourself from too much heat. Staying away from direct sun’s rays is crucial in keeping your body cool. If you develop any heat-related sickness, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
4. Wear long dresses
During the hot season, wearing a long dress might not seem like a nice idea. But wearing a long dress will help to protect your body more especially when you are going out. When you are pregnant, your body produces hormones that make your skin more sensitive to heat. Your skin will quickly get burned if you expose it for too long to the sun.
To prevent too much of your skin from being exposed to the direct sunlight, wearing a long cloth is better. However, when you are choosing a long dress to wear, ensure that it is light and breathable. Also, if your dress is too light, you can wear something on top, which you can remove immediately; you start feeling warmer.
5. Stay indoors
During pregnancy, your body cannot tolerate too much heat. To reduce your chances of getting heat-related sickness, it is advisable to stay indoors. If you are staying in a place with higher temperatures, use your home’s cooling system to lower the effects of too much heat.
Also, there are times of the day when the temperature outside does not allow you to stay outdoors. When the sun is shining at its prime more especially between 10 am and 4 pm, you should stay indoors. Staying indoors will help to prevent exposure to direct sunlight and high temperatures.
6. Avoid spicy food
During pregnancy, keep your food as light as possible. Eating too spicy food can lead to indigestion and heartburns. When you develop heartburns, for instance, it helps to increase your body temperature.
Therefore, it is advisable to avoid spicy food and go for refreshing foods such as lemons, watermelons, berries, grapes, to mention just but a few.
Swimming during pregnancy is one of the most soothing exercises. Besides keeping you cool, swimming is a good form of exercise during pregnancy. Moreover, you can safely swim during any trimester of pregnancy.
If you are feeling warm, swimming will help to reduce the heat. Just as swimming for pleasure or workout, you can swim to help regulate your body temperature.
Pregnancy Overheating While Sleeping
During pregnancy, drenching sweats during sleep is perfectly normal. This can be caused by different factors, which might be physiological factors that are pregnancy-related. In some women, drenching sweat is an early sign of pregnancy.
During the menstrual cycle, the general basal body temperature increases, which leads to overheating. During early pregnancy, due to the changes in body hormones, it can result in overheating, which might even wake you up.
Also, according to studies, a pregnant woman experiences high body temperatures during the first trimester and then gradually declines during the remaining trimesters. Therefore, if you are woken up by overheating at night, know that it is normal and it will pass soon after the first trimester.
Heatstroke when pregnant!
When the body temperature increases during pregnancy, it can lead to heat exhaustion, which is characterized by difficulty in breathing, dizziness, cramps, nausea, among other signs. Heat exhaustion can result in heat stroke, which is much more severe as compared to heat exhaustion.
Heatstroke is very severe, and it can lead to damage to the kidneys, heart, and brain. It should be attended to as soon as possible to prevent damage to such vital body organs.
Moreover, when the expectant mother’s body temperature goes beyond 102 degrees Fahrenheit, it can lead to serious fetal development defects such as cleft palate.
Besides that, heatstroke can affect the level of amniotic fluid due to dehydration. If this condition happens during the first trimester when the fetus is developing, it can lead to birth defects and under extreme cases, miscarriage, or preterm labor.
Signs of pregnancy overheating!
Pregnancy overheating happens when the body temperature rises above 39-degree centigrade. The worst part of body overheating is that you will not experience any kind of discomfort.
However, the following symptoms will help you know when you are overheating:
- Feeling dizzy
- Feeling too much thirst
- Experiencing an unpleasant feeling of calmness
- Feeling lightheaded
- Excessive and uncontrolled sweating
- Experiencing a sensation of vomiting or nausea
- Having a dry mouth suddenly
- Experiencing sudden chills or coldness
There are different causes of overheating. The major causes are:
- High fever due to medication or an infection
- Engaging in high-intensity physical activities and for a prolonged time
- Involving yourself in a sauna or Jacuzzi bath
- Soaking yourself in a hot water bath for an extended period of time
- Over-exercising during the hot weather
How to reduce high body heat during pregnancy
There are numerous methods through which you can lower the body temperature.
The easiest and practical ways include the following:
- Cold foot bath – you can sit back and relax while you keep your feet in cold water. You can take water in a basin and then add a few ice cubes and then keep your feet in the water for 15 to 20 minutes. To enhance the cooling effect, you can add a few drops of essential oil such as peppermint.
- Food with high water content – you can cool yourself by eating foods that contain a large percentage of water. Eating fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, and strawberries can help increase your body’s water level. Besides that, you can eat vegetables that contain water as well, such as cucumber, celery, cauliflower to mention but a few.
- Eating aloe-vera – the gel in the middle part of the aloe-vera leaves have a cooling effect on the body. By applying the gel of the aloe-vera leaves on your skin, you can lower your body temperature. For faster results, keep the leave in a fridge, so make it cooler.
- Coconut water – another great way to lower your body temperature is to drink coconut water. It is rich in minerals, vitamins, and other electrolytes, which helps the body to re-hydrate. So, when you are overheating, simply drink coconut water, and it will help you beat the heat stress.
- Proper dressing – you can lower your body temperature by wearing light and loose clothes. Light clothes allow your body not to retain so much heat, and thus, you will feel cooler as compared to wearing heavy and thick clothes.