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Extreme Heat and Pregnancy: How to Protect Yourself and Your Baby

Aug 07, 2023
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During pregnancy, your body works overtime to cool down both you and your baby. That means you need to take extra precautions to stay cool when the heat index soars. Read on to learn more.

Extreme heat isn’t just uncomfortable. It can be harmful to your health, especially when you’re pregnant. 

Exposure to blistering temperatures, with which we’ve all become familiar, can lead to complications for expectant mothers and their developing babies.

During pregnancy, some of the natural changes that occur, such as increased hormonal sensitivity and blood volume, reduce your body’s ability to regulate its temperature. This makes you more susceptible to heat-related health problems such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke — conditions that can negatively impact pregnancy and fetal growth and development.

Heatwaves have become more severe and frequent. That’s why the experts at NY Midtown OB/GYN in Manhattan and Westchester, New York, advise pregnant individuals to be aggressive in taking precautions.

Expert tips for staying cool

When the heat index (the combination of temperature and humidity) tops 90, it’s time to get vigilant about keeping cool. You don’t want your core body temperature to exceed 102.2°F.

Here’s what the Midtown OB/GYN team recommends to their pregnant patients when temperatures soar.

  • Stay hydrated: Drink lots of water and eat foods high in water content. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Be pro-active.
  • Stay indoors: Avoid spending time outdoors when it’s extremely hot. Use air conditioning, take a cool shower or bath, or apply a cool, damp washcloth to the back of your neck, forehead, or head.
  • Wear sunscreen: Protect your skin. Pregnant individuals are more susceptible to sunburn, and people who are sunburned are less able to regulate their body temperature.
  • Dress light: Wear loose, comfortable, light-colored clothing in a fabric that breathes, such as cotton, linen, or an athletic “dry-wick” material.
  • Rest your feet: To prevent or reduce edema, wear comfortable shoes, avoid standing for long periods, elevate your feet, and reduce your salt intake.
  • Listen to your body: Pay close attention to how you feel and know the signs of dehydration. These include: dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps, a weak or rapid pulse, low blood pressure, dark urine, tiredness (fatigue), and pale, clammy skin.  If you experience any of these symptoms, find shade,  hydrate, and seek medical care immediately.

For more information about protecting yourself and your baby during the scorching days of summer and for all your prenatal needs, book an appointment at NY Midtown OB/GYN. Call 646-292-3030 or visit our contact page.