Would Hot Environment Affect my Pregnancy?
Hot weather and increase in temperature affects most people, especially pregnant women. Some pregnant mothers find it extra challenging being pregnant in the hot weather and are likely to feel overheated. Do you need to keep cool to protect your baby?
Overheating during pregnancy
You are considered overheated or have hyperthermia when your body temperature rises above 38.9°C for more than 10 minutes. This puts you at risk of dehydration, heatstroke and heat exhaustion. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the signs of overheating include feeling dizzy, weak, tired, nauseous, lightheaded, off balance, extremely thirsty, as well as, reduced urine output, muscle cramps and continuous sweating despite attempts to cool down, dry at the mouth and having cracked lips. If you begin to vomit or experience painful contractions, do seek medical attention immediately.
With 50% more blood pumping through your veins to nourish your baby, expanded blood vessels to accommodate this change on top of the effort needed to carry the extra weight of your baby and an increase in metabolic rate, your pregnant body has a higher risk of overheating.
Naturally, your body will also be working harder to cool your body while accommodating all these changes, which could make it easier for you to overheat quickly. It is easy to overlook your increase in temperature on a hot day or after exercising. However, you should pay close attention to how you are feeling, as overheating puts you and your baby at risk of complications.
How Will Overheating Affect My Pregnancy?
Overheating in the first trimester could possibly cause miscarriage. High fever, the use of the hot tub or sauna during the first trimester have also been linked to abnormalities in the foetal’s heart and neural tube defects, which could lead to Spina Bifida – a birth defect where the spine and spinal cord do not form properly.
A study in the Journal of American Heart Association found that increased temperatures due to global climate change may lead to more infants born with heart defects between 2025 – 2035. It is unclear how exactly does overheating affect foetal development but animal studies propose that overheating may cause death of cells or interfere with some proteins involved in foetal development during the first trimester.
On the other hand, overheating later on in the pregnancy can lead to pregnant mothers being dehydrated. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of Braxton Hicks, the spontaneous contractions and relaxation of the uterus muscle, which is commonly mistaken for contractions. This could also increase the occurrence of dizzy spells and faintings, which could lead to falls early labour or placental abruption.
That being said, having a temperature more than 38.9°C is not necessarily dangerous for you or your baby, but you should seek medical advice from your doctors on how to lower it. It is also important to pay close attention to your body’s cues and remove yourself from hot situations before overheating.