Summer is in full swing, with temperatures reaching over 35 degrees Celsius in most parts of the country. According to the South African Weather Service’s forecast for summer 2019 / 2020 unusually high temperatures are expected this season.
Us pregnant women may struggle to cool off when temperatures and humidity are high, putting us at risk for developing heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and dehydration.
“If a pregnant women’s core body temperatures rises too high, her baby has a slightly higher risk of complications that could affect their development or lead to birth defects,” says Dr Howard Manyonga, an obstetrician and Head of The Birthing Team, an affordable maternity programme available in Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria and Polokwane.
“Heat exhaustion can occur quickly when temperatures are scorching hot, so it may seem that you are simply tired due to being pregnant. However, there may be signs of dehydration which is dangerous to both you and your baby,” says Manyonga.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include excessive sweating, feeling weak, nausea or vomiting, cold and clammy skin and fainting. Dehydration can also increase the incidence of dizzy spells and fainting.
Manyonga offers some advice for pregnant women to stay cool this summer:
Stay hydrated When the temperature rises make sure that your fluid intake is sufficient, drink three to four litres of water per day. In addition to water, you can also include fruit juices and sports drinks – as long as they’re not too high in sugar.
Wear cotton clothes Or clothing made of other natural fibres such as linen. These allow you to perspire and release heat comparted to trapping it in when you wear synthetic fabrics.
Get some fresh air Light exercise is good for not only you but your baby too. If women are going to exercise for long periods of time, we recommend they stay well hydrated, wear loose-fitting clothing and avoid high heat and humidity.
Put your feet up Keeping your feet elevated is important. The heat and humidity, coupled with your pregnancy weight, can lead to swelling in your legs, feet, and ankles.