We asked our experts Doctor & Daughter for their advice on coping with the hot weather during pregnancy. 

Pregnant women naturally have a slightly decreased tolerance to heat and humidity. This is because their core body temperature is slightly elevated, compared to their non-pregnant state. This is fine in the winter, when they will find they tolerate the lower temperatures often better than their partners and has the added advantage of lower central heating bills.

In the summer heat, however, they may find their own central heating will make extended periods of heat and sunshine uncomfortable and occasionally distressing, but is only very rarely a serious problem.

The simple and obvious advice is to keep cool, stay out of the sun and keep well hydrated. As a guide, the daily fluid intake should be at least 2 litres, or at least 8-10 drinks a day. The Human Body has a very sophisticated mechanism for preventing dehydration. It’s called being thirsty! As a generalisation if you are thirsty, you need to drink!  Water is best. You do not need expensive isotonic fluids, and fizzy drinks are generally not a good idea. Good old H2O is what you need. In most places tap water is quite safe and may be the best and simplest option.

Signs of dehydration or concern would include:

1. Passing small amounts of concentrated urine. As a guide you should be emptying your bladder at least 4 or 5 times a day.

2. Feeling faint or dizzy or lightheaded

3. Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhoea.

The best way to avoid heatstroke is to keep in the shade and wear loose fitting clothes and think about a sun-hat.

A special word about your skin. During pregnancy, the skin takes on extra pigment, which makes it particularly liable to sun damage and excess pigmentation. This is a particular problem in the face where it can cause deep pigment changes around the forehead and cheeks. This is called Chloasma, or the “mask of pregnancy”. This can occasionally be quite noticeable, and is best avoided by factor 50 or complete sunblock and a generous hat.

If you are unlucky enough to get a prickly heat rash, then you must stay out of the sun and find a cool spot.  Generally it will go in a few days, and cooling moisturising creams may help.

The other common problem in the heat is swelling of the ankles and fingers and generally a worsening of oedema (swelling/fluid retention). This condition affects between a third and a half of pregnant women, and it does not mean that you have pre-eclampsia. Oedema tends to get worse in the hot weather, especially if you are on your feet a lot. By itself, it is not serious, just unsightly and uncomfortable.  However if you develop a bad frontal headache, visual disturbances, or pain under the ribs, you had better check with your midwife.

So, in summary: keep cool, stay out of the sun, lots of fluid, sunblock and a hat.

The Doctor and Daughter’s Guide to Pregnancy
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About The Author

Doctor and Daughter
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist

Roger Marwood is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London. He has 40 years experience working in busy NHS and Private hospitals and has personally supervised around 20,000 pregnancies. Rebecca Maberly is his eldest daughter who gave birth to her first child last year and is currently pregnant with her second. Together they have founded The Doctor and Daughter's Guide to Pregnancy which is a must-visit for prospective parents seeking a definitive source of realistic information, free from unqualified input from forums and comments. It enables mothers-to-be make informed decisions throughout their pregnancy, such as whether or not they should be drinking alcohol, running a marathon or eating smoked salmon. Their approach is no-nonsense and practical. The advice is medical and evidence-based, straight from Roger but with an informal slant provided by Rebecca. “There is so much conflicting information out there for the new mum-to-be, it can be very frustrating. We want to provide realistic, honest advice to busy modern women who want the best for their babies.”

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One Response

  1. Jim

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