Proper care during pregnancy is a must and even more during summers, when the heat can be a real discomfort. Some pregnant women complain of feeling hot and sweaty most of the time, which could be because they have 1-1.5 litres of extra blood in their body, compared to earlier. A reason for this could be the increased metabolism.
Challenges faced by pregnant women in summer
Nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy
This is a normal phenomenon faced by 60-70 per cent of pregnant women. Excessive vomiting can lead to dehydration and weakness requiring admission to hospital, which can be made worse in the summer months.
Indigestion, gas, bloating sensation and reduced appetite
The changes that take place in pregnancy contribute to slow movement of the food through the food pipe, stomach and gut. There is also relaxation of gut muscles and sphincters which cause regurgitation of acid and food, worsening heartburn. The growing pregnancy presses upwards on the stomach and worsens the discomfort.
Fluid collection in the feet and legs occurs after the first three months of pregnancy. This is experienced by about 60 per cent of pregnant women and can get worse in hot weather. However, remember that excessive or sudden swelling of the feet, legs, fingers and face may be a sign of high blood pressure in pregnancy. So, it is advisable to see your doctor if the swelling is disproportionate or does not go down with rest.
Shortness of breath, due to the growing womb
The growing uterus compresses the lungs and causes shortness of breath. During hot temperatures, this can increase the sense of “suffocation” felt by a woman, making them breathless especially when lying down.
Below are some suggestions from Dr Jayashree Nagraj Bhasgi, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Fortis La Femme hospital for pregnant moms:
Pregnant women often see the temperature of their bodies increase. The goal is to keep it stable. To fight heat, the number one tip is good internal hydration. This can be done through ample consumption of liquids mainly water but also fruit juice or intake of fresh vegetables with high water content. In addition to drinking fluids, it is strongly recommended to include fruits, vegetables and soups in one’s diet. Some over-sweet drinks can cause a sensation of thirst shortly after ingestion, thus avoid these as much as possible.
To withstand high temperatures in summer, there is nothing better than baths or showers at room temperature. Although cold water showers are more tempting and desirable during hot weather they tend to increase body temperature because our body has to work to adapt to the ambient temperature. That’s why a few minutes after a cold shower one will feel warm again. A cold shower at dawn or just before bedtime will keep you refreshed for several hours. If one is not used to it, start gradually with your feet, legs and then your arms. Save the belly for the end of the shower, while massaging it in circular motions.
Choosing the right clothing
Choose clothes that make you feel comfortable. In summers, clothing should not be tight and should facilitate breathing and movement. Opt for natural fabrics that release perspiration. Wear light clothes so as to breathe through the skin too. Avoid layering with too many pieces of clothing.
Moderate sporting activity
For pregnant women, a moderate sporting activity is always welcome. In summers, do not put physical exercises aside unless advised by your gynaecologist. Working on the elasticity of muscles and tendons will allow you to better withstand the sluggishness and exhaustion associated with progressive weight gain. Also, exercises that improve blood circulation tends to be disrupted during pregnancy. Walking and swimming are the most recommended activities.
Light and frequent meals
During summers, in the evening, do not dine too late and eat light. On the other hand, breakfast must be complete and nutritious to avoid nibbling within the next three hours. It is best to have five meals a day. Of these five meals, at least one or two must contain fruit and vegetables. Do not forget to consume light proteins.
Rest and relaxation
Taking a nap once or twice daily in the shade is recommmended. Open windows so that the fresh air enters the room. Floating in the water is also a good way to relax. Relaxation through a total disconnection with everything that disturbs you is beneficial.