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7 ways to beat the heat when pregnant

Gotta love summer, but pregnancy and heatwaves are not the best combination ever. Hyperpigmentation, swollen hands and feet, dizziness, risk of dehydration - here’s why you should take caution, plus seven tips to endure the heat. You've got this.

When pregnant, your heart rate is faster, your blood pressure is lower and you’re more vulnerable to dehydration and dizziness in general. That’s why you’re more likely to overheat, and your body can struggle more with the complications. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be dangerous for both you and your baby. But symptoms of overheating can be tricky to spot, because they’re similar to the discomforts you may be dealing with anyway, such as nausea and fatigue. Beware of severe muscle cramps, headaches and a weak or rapid pulse. Also; remember it’s better to be safe than sorry, so when in doubt, reach out to your midwife or doctor. Here’s some tips to take good care of your pregnant self during a heatwave.

1. Drink lots and lots of water

It goes without saying that drinking enough water during a heatwave is important, but when you’re pregnant, your body needs those liquids even more. Drink at least 2 liters of water per day. Fill your fridge with bottles of cooled water and bring a bottle wherever you go. Add some cubes of ice, so it stays cool for longer when you’re on the move.

2. Remove your jewellery

No matter the weather, your hands and feet are at risk of swelling during pregnancy. But when temperatures are high, that swelling can occur in the blink of an eye. Remove rings or bracelets before they start to feel uncomfortable.

3. Skip the salt

As mentioned before, your body has a tendency to hold more water than usual, causing swelling. Eating salty food can increase that water retention. That’s why it’s best to limit the intake of salt, and swap salty snacks with fresh fruit.

4. Dip your toes

If you want your body to cool down, start with your feet. Fill up a bucket with cold water and some ice, and dip your toes. Perfect while relaxing in the shade.

5. Protect your skin

Due to hormones, the level of melanin - the type of pigment that gives colour to your skin - increases. This causes your skin to be more prone to sunburn. Some areas are more sensitive; the forehead, the skin around the eyes, and above the lip. When local hyperpigmentation occurs in those areas, you get what they call a ‘pregnancy mask’. In some cases this ‘mask’ fades over time, but that’s not always the case. Apply sunscreen multiple times a day, or better yet - use sunblock, especially on your face. Also, wear a hat and seek shadow.

6. Take a lukewarm shower

It might seem like a good idea to take a cold shower, but the cold water can actually make your body retain heat, instead of losing it. Try lukewarm water instead if you want your body to cool down.

7. Go for a siesta

Getting a good night of sleep can be difficult as is, with your growing belly making it hard to move around and to find the right position. The heat doesn’t make it any easier. Find time to take a nap in the afternoon, to recharge your battery, at least a little.

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