How to cool down when pregnant is a constant challenge as during pregnancy body temperature is naturally higher, fun times.
Pregnancy brings with it lots of challenges, not forgetting the ongoing search for the best stroller before the baby arrives, but morning sickness, pelvic pain, and the rise in body temperature. This last one is due to hormonal changes, increased blood flow, and the warmth generated by the baby, and because of the is, it can be tricky to know how to cool down when pregnant. Whether you’re experiencing a steady, radiating heat or more sudden and intense hot flushes that leave you a little dizzy, it’s all a normal part of pregnancy.
GP Dr Ross Perry warns pregnant women to need to be careful not to pass off a fever as a hot flash in pregnancy. He says "If your body temperature is elevated for over 10 minutes (i.e. over 38.9°C), the heat can cause problems," he said. "Especially in the first trimester as excessive heat can lead to neural tube defects and increase the risk of miscarriage."
Feeling too hot can be unpleasant, and as long as any concerning temperature has been addressed by a healthcare provider, following our top tips and practical advice for cooling down, should have you feeling comfortable in no time.
Ross qualified at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School in 1994 and pursued a surgical career that now comprises NHS skin cancer reconstruction and private cosmetic skin treatments. He is the Medical Director of Cosmedics Skin Clinics, which he established in 2003.
How to cool down when pregnant
1. Stay hydrated
He advises, "If you’re travelling, make sure you always have a bottle of water with you. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to reach for a drink but keep fluid intake up and steer clear of caffeine, which can make you feel more dehydrated."
Cathy Tabner from My Expert Midwife has further advice about liquid consumption. They say "Avoid caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, and colas, which may have a mildly diuretic effect, disrupting your fluid balance. It’s best to avoid these or look for their decaffeinated version. Dehydration impacts your and your baby’s health, so it is important to keep your drinking bottle topped up."
2. Keep out of the sun
Many pregnant women find their skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, so it’s advisable to be extra cautious if you have to be outside in the sun for extended periods. It's important to buy one that's got a high SPF - check out our list of the best and worst suncreams to buy, to make sure you're getting a good one.
"Some women develop a condition called chloasma, which causes brown patches on the face. These can appear darker after sun exposure," Dr Ross said, before advising pregnant women to "use an SPF of at least 30, wear loose comfortable clothing, a wide brimmed hat and stay in the shade."
4. Wear loose clothing
It’s especially important to wear lightweight fabrics during the day when considering how to keep cool in hot weather during pregnancy. Swap any restrictive items for looser fit T-shirts or stretchy pants and opt for materials like cotton and linen instead of synthetics, as they don’t encourage you to sweat.
Some mums-to-be even swear by men's cotton boxer shorts to keep them cool during the night or to just lounge around the house in. Cathy Tabner from My Expert Midwife tell us "Wear natural fibres such as cotton, bamboo or silk rather than synthetics, and favour light, loose-fitting clothing. Synthetic materials retain moisture and don’t allow your skin to breathe properly which can increase irritation."
4. Keep your moisturiser in the fridge
It might sound a little bit odd, but keeping your moisturiser in the fridge could really help when considering how to keep cool in hot weather. Although you can't keep regular cosmetics in the fridge due to the chance of them degrading, creams and moisturisers won't suffer this same fate.
The colder your cream, the nicer your morning or evening moisturising routine will be when it's muggy. Not only that, but cooled face creams have the added bonus of potentially reducing puffiness and boosting circulation.
5. Ditch the duvet
Night time, especially in the summer, can be particularly difficult when you’re pregnant and trying to figure out how to keep cool in hot weather during pregnancy. If you are overheating while trying to sleep, tossing and turning only exacerbates the problem so get rid of additional sheets, blankets or thick duvets.
Studies have shown that cotton bed sheets are scientifically proven to help you cool down when pregnant and sleep better during a heatwave.
Those that are really struggling could ask their partner to find another place to lay their head for the night, so your body temperatures aren’t making things more uncomfortable for each other.
6. Make your own air conditioner
A great way to cool you down at night is to have a fan circulating cold air around your room. You could even consider putting a two-litre bottle of frozen water in front of it for instant air-conditioning.
Cathy Tabner tells us that hand-held portable fans are a good investment for pregnant women when they're on the go. Though some experts also warn that sleeping with a fan on could be bad for you, so it might be best to use this trick sparingly.
7. Use a spray water bottle
A spray water bottle can be great for an instant refresh during the day when your face is feeling hot or flushed. Fill a spray bottle up with water and spray on to the face and body to provide a mist of cooling water.
Pharmacist Daniel Brash from HealthCare4All says: "It takes some of the heat away as the water evaporates. If you want the water to stay cooler for longer put some ice in with the water." In the same way that a portable fan would be useful, a travel bottle filled with cooling spray will also be useful for days you are on the move.
8. Keep your wrists cold
Of course it's not possible to keep your hands under a cold tap all day, but for those unbearable moments in the hot weather, simply hold your wrists under some cold running water for a moment. This will cool your pulse points immediately.
It also helps to keep your forehead and back of your neck cold too, try using a wet cloth or a flannel that has been in the freezer, these little things will help you master how to keep cool in hot weather throughout your pregnancy.
Cathy Tabner says "An effective way to cool down is to aim for your pulse points. You can place ice cubes wrapped in a towel or cool, wet flannels over the back of your neck and forehead, run your wrists under a cold tap and/or place your feet ankle-deep into a basin of cool water."
9. Stop strenuous exercise
There’s no need to overwork yourself in the gym on a hot day, light exercise such as yoga will also bring you out in a sweat without making you feel like your baby bump is about to explode.
You can also try working out in water at your local swimming pool. It’s a great way to help you keep in shape while helping you master how to keep cool when pregnant in hot weather.
11. Cool down your pregnant bump
"A cold flannel against your forehead or over your baby bump is an effective way to cool down fast," Dr Ross suggests. Placed over the eyes, its also a soothing remedy for relieving a headache or eye strain. Alternatively, get that hot water bottle out and turn it into a cold water bottle. All you have to do is pop it in the fridge until it's super cold and then use it to cool down.
12. Enjoy more cold food
When it comes to snacking in the heat, ice lollies are usually at the top of everyone's list. But why not try and keep other items in the freezer too, such as yoghurt and frozen fruit. Healthy frozen options and cooling summer foods will keep your energy levels up and, more importantly, your temperature down.
My Expert Midwife's Cathy Tabner has further tips and tricks, adding "Although water is essential and should be drunk throughout the day, optimal hydration requires other elements that are found in foods. You can ensure an adequate intake of these by eating fruits and vegetables such as pineapple, mango, grapes, melon, pears, berries, cucumber, courgette, asparagus and dark leafy greens."
13. Avoid spicy food
Eating "cooling" foods like salads, vegetables grown above ground – like peas and beans – or fruit with a high water content – such as watermelon or cucumber – will have a great cooling effect on your temperature.
Mum-of-one, Caroline Wyatt told us that avoiding spicy foods, especially before bed, really helped her stay cool while she was pregnant with her daughter, Mary.
She said: "No hot drinks or spicy food for a few hours before bed really helped keep my body temperature down. Cutting right down on caffeine also helped, I only had one tea a day, usually in the mornings."
14. Don't over exert yourself
Don’t try and tackle every task like you used to, make a conscious effort to slow down and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Instead of trawling the aisles of your local Tesco, have your shopping delivered to your home instead.
Just take your time, don’t rush and where possible have a nap, you’ll be grateful for that extra sleep once the baby comes. Napping in a room that's had the windows, blinds and door firmly shut to keep the heat out will be even better. Get the fan on, and enjoy snoozing and getting cool at the same time.
15. Use fragrance to cool down
Certain smells are known for being able to cool you off such as Mandarin and Neroli essential oils. Their cooling properties could really help you relax when you're feeling hot and bothered. It's recommended you add a few drops to witch hazel flower water and then use it as a spray.
Research has shown that smelling Neroli can also reduce blood pressure - helping you to calm down if the hot weather is causing you to become irritable. Whilst Lavender oil is good to use in a foot bath if you're suffering with swollen ankles or really hot and tired feet.
16. Avoid ice cold baths
Although at times you may feel like you want to jump into a cold bath, this really isn't a good idea. Exposure to extreme cold will constrict your blood vessels and send signals to the body to retain heat. Therefore it's best to stick to lukewarm baths or showers.
One scientific review found that a warm bath actually helps to lower core body temperature. As Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist and sleep specialist at the University of California, explains: "What happens with a bath is you actually bring all of the blood to the surface. And your hands and your feet are wonderful radiators of that heat. So you are essentially like a snake charmer — you are charming the heat out of the core of your body to the surface of your body."
The same analogy applies to drinking hot beverages on a warm day. Another study by the University of Ottawa gave one test group a glass of hot water after exercise and the other a glass of cold water. After a brief sit down, they found that the warm water drinkers recorded less heat than their cool water counterparts.
“If you drink a hot drink, it does result in a lower amount of heat stored inside your body, provided the additional sweat that’s produced when you drink the hot drink can evaporate,” explained researcher Ollie Jay.
17. Treat your feet
Keeping your feet nice and cold is essential if you want the rest of your body to cool. So if you own a footspa, try filling it with cold water instead and place your feet in it while relaxing with a book or watching the TV. Better still, if you already have children and own a paddling pool, fill it up and place it in the shade.
Not only will the kids have fun, but you'll feel better too. You can also put socks in cold water, then pop them in the freezer for about half an hour, and put them on to cool down your feet - you can thank us later!
Cathy Tabner adds that not only will this cool you down, but can also help with pregnancy swelling. She tells us "Swelling of feet and ankles can be helped by soaking them in cold water, elevating your feet above the level of your heart, stimulating drainage by repeatedly pointing your toes to and away from you (dorsiflexion exercises), by gentle massage and by trying a cooling spray."
18. Focus on your breathing
Breathing is an important factor when trying to cool down when pregnant Relaxed, steady breathing lets off heat, so you want to make sure you have a good breathing pattern when you are feeling warm.
Hot weather can cause shortness of breath and chest tightness in people who aren't pregnant. When you are expecting, shortness of breath can be exacerbated by the baby crushing your lungs and the pregnancy generally raising your body temperature.
Get some advice from your healthcare provider about breathing exercises if you aren't sure, but they should work to both make you feel more relaxed, and cool you down.
Why is my body so hot during pregnancy?
You feel hotter during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and increasing blood supply to the skin.
Unlike a lot of first trimester symptoms that vanish after the first three months, feeling hotter is something that can stay for the duration of the pregnancy. With each stage, you're body temperature can rise and your skin can even feel warmer. You might notice an increase in sweating at all times of the day and night, even if the temperatures outside aren't affecting this.
Dr. Kelvin Fernandez, a physician and healthcare educator at Ace Med Boards, tells us "In layman's terms, pregnancy makes a woman's body warmer due to an increase in blood volume and metabolic rate. This basically means your body is working overtime to create a nurturing environment for your little one, and that extra effort generates heat. Hence, the feeling of being perpetually warm."
In early pregnancy, hormonal changes increase body temperature slightly. Increasing blood volume carrying essential food and oxygen to the baby, causes a rapid heartrate. This in turn increases metabolism, and your temperature will rise further. Widening vessels delivering the blood, means more blood flowing to the skin - that pregnancy glow isn't just because you're happy to be bringing life, but because you're genuinely hotter. Combine this with summer, and you'll definitely be needing to utilise our top tips to cooling down.
For expert advice on how to sleep in heat, we've got you covered. To keep your house cool in summer, we've got a multitude of tips and tricks to choose from. Once your little one arrives and you need to keep a baby cool in hot weather, we can offer supportive, expert-led advice.