Heat exhaustion is a risk for everyone in the warm, humid summer months, but the risk for pregnant women is even greater. According to the American Heart Association, when you’re pregnant, you have a higher than average body temperature. Your body is already working harder than normal to regulate your body temperature, so temperature regulation in intense summer heat forces your body to work overtime. From dehydration to overheating, the physical impacts not only affect you but also your baby.
So, whether you’re heading outside to play with the kids, continue your exercise routine, enjoy a cookout, or just to read, know the warning signs of heat exhaustion.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion
The Mayo Clinic warns signs of heat exhaustion can develop suddenly or gradually over extended periods of time. It’s important to be aware of what is happening in your body, when to take a break, and when to see a doctor.
The signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Cool, moist skin with goosebumps
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Edema, or swelling of the legs
For those who are pregnant, excessive heat exhaustion can cause the following symptoms that should be addressed by a doctor immediately:
- High fever (over 101 F)
- Braxton Hicks (practice contractions)
Dehydration is a major factor in many heat exhaustion cases and can lead to dizziness or fainting. Preventing dehydration by drinking fluids throughout the day is key to reducing the impact of heat exhaustion, especially as falls during pregnancy can cause significant complications, according to the American Heart Association.
Take care of yourself, mama, and your baby. If you start to feel like the heat is too much, take a break!
Preventing & Treating Heat Exhaustion
Attacking heat exhaustion before it starts is the best plan for both you and your baby! WebMD outlines some tips for preventing heat exhaustion:
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Avoid being outside in the direct heat/sunlight. Exercise or enjoy the outdoors early or late in the day.
- Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water before, during, and after being outside
- Carry a mister or wrap a cool towel or ice pack around your neck while outside.
- Ensure you have a consistent breathing pattern.
Thankfully, heat exhaustion is often remedied when recognized early and treated quickly. If you feel yourself getting dizzy, faint, or weak, don’t wait! Experts encourage the following if you think you are experiencing heat exhaustion:
- Move to a cool place immediately.
- Lay down until you are no longer dizzy.
- Drink fluids that replenish your electrolytes.
- See a doctor if you experience symptoms for more than an hour.
Mama, you’ve weathered a lot. Let yourself enjoy the sunshine, the warmth, the freedom of summer.
But know the warning signs of heat exhaustion so you can take care of yourself, your kids, and your baby!