Pregnancy and you blog

Heat during pregnancy: How to beat it

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. July 30, 2013

Not too long ago there was a pop song about feeling the heat and taking off your clothing. It could have been an anthem for pregnant women.

When I was pregnant with my daughter Aimee, we were living in eastern Arkansas. It was August. On the day she was born, the temperature was 112 F. I was never cool enough that summer. I can remember sitting in front of the air conditioner, which was blasting cool air, and wishing it would get colder.

I want to reassure all of you overheated pregnant women that you really are hotter than most. In fact, your base temperature can increase by 1/2 to 1 degree Fahrenheit. This is why women can chart their initial waking temperatures to determine when they're ovulating and to figure out if they might be pregnant. During pregnancy, elevated levels of pregnancy hormone and a faster metabolism contribute to the increase in your core body temperature and that so-hot-you-could-pop feeling.

Luckily, your body has ways to control its temperature so it doesn't become too high for your developing baby. The increase in your body surface helps to dissipate heat during pregnancy. You sweat like a 50-year-old woman with hot flashes. (Sweat is actually a great cooling mechanism.) You can also simply seek cooler environments. For once, it might be your partner complaining about the chill in the air while you threaten severe consequences if the thermostat is touched.

Of course, you also need to be careful on scorching summer days. Consider these tips:

  • Keep hydrated. Sweating can dry you out.
  • Avoid overheating during exercise. Go for your walk early in the day or late in the evening. Swimming — with plenty of sunscreen on, if you're outdoors — is a good way to beat the heat.
  • Look for ways to stay cool. If you don't have air conditioning, when temperatures soar you might linger in air-conditioned malls, movie theaters, public libraries or museums.

If you have any concerns about the heat during pregnancy, don't hesitate to call your obstetrical provider.

July 30, 2013