Does your body feel like you’re in Barbados rather than Britain?
Whether you’re experiencing a steady, radiating heat or more sudden and intense hot flushes that leave you a little dizzy, it’s all a normal part of pregnancy.
‘Pregnant women generally feel hotter,’ says independent midwife Meg Miskin-Garside. ‘Not everyone suffers, but there’s nothing to worry about if you do feel like this: your increased body temperature isn’t damaging to your baby, it’s just uncomfortable for you.’
This temperature rise is partly due to more blood flowing around your body at a faster rate.
‘The blood volume in your body also expands and the effect of this extra blood, travelling at greater speed, will raise your core temperature by around 0.8°C.’
This small rise in temperature can soon leave you feeling uncomfortably sweaty, particulary when you add in the added stress of summer heat.
It’s a sign, however, that your body is busy nurturing your developing baby.
‘In addition, your growing baby generates extra energy,’ adds Meg. ‘So, it’s a bit like having your own internal central heating system.’
Nature has provided you with an ingenious inbuilt cooling device however.
‘You can lose heat more easily through your skin during pregnancy, through a process called vasodilation,’ says Meg.
‘The small blood vessels under your skin widen, so the warm blood can flow near to the surface and cool, which is why you might look flushed and reddened. You’ll also have a larger surface area of skin as your abdomen expands.
‘Wear loose, cotton clothing, and don’t be slow to shed layers. Stay well-hydrated by carrying a bottle of water with you and sipping from it throughout the day.’
You should also be careful not to move from cold temperatures straight to hot.
‘If you’re already running on hot, the effect of vasodilation can lower your blood pressure and make you feel light-headed or faint,’ explains Meg.
And avoid anything that will raise your body temperature further.
Stay inside during the hottest part of the day. If you take a trip abroad, take care not to underestimate the searing heat of an unfamiliar climate.
Don’t over-exert yourself in hot conditions, either. Saunas aren’t recommended during pregnancy, and neither are hot tubs, as warm water denies your body its ability to lose heat by sweating.
‘The combination of your hot body and your hormones may mean you suffer from skin rashes, thread veins and blotchy or discoloured patches on your face, but most will go of their own accord once your baby is born,’ says Meg.
Just be careful that you don’t pass off a fever as a hot flush: ‘Your normal temperature in pregnancy is 37.8°C. If it’s much above that, keep well-hydrated, and see your doctor if there are no signs of it lowering.’
5 ways to beat the heat
- Cool yourself with tepid water. A glass of water clinking with ice cubes might cool your body quickly, but it will constrict blood vessels and send signals to retain heat, rather than dissipate it.
- Overheating in the night can interfere with your sleep, but finding that blissful cold spot on the pillow is made easy with a Gel’O Cool Pillow Mat, £30, amazon.co.uk Place it in the fridge in the day, then slip it under your pillowcase to disperse heat away from your head during the night.
- Use a fan at night. Choose one with variable speeds, so you can cool your room down quickly when you go to bed, but leave it on a quiet setting through the night. The Honeywell Quiet Set Tower Fan, £99.99, homebase.co.uk, has five settings, from whisper to turbo. Stand a two-litre bottle of frozen water in front of it for instant air-conditioning.
- When you’re fit to boil, the quickest way to refresh yourself is to hold both wrists, with your palms uppermost, under tepid running water for a few minutes. This gently cools your pulse points, where your blood is close to the surface, so decreasing your core temperature.
- Controlling your breathing can help you cool down. Pregnancy yoga classes are the ideal place to master the basics. If you’d rather learn at home, try Pregnancy Yoga With Tara Lee, £14.99, taraleeyoga.com, which will guide you through breathing exercises.