How to beat the heat

Summer is here and whether you’re pregnant or have a newborn, it’s important to have a few tricks up your sleeve for staying cool and feeling comfortable during the hotter months.

Keeping Your Baby Bump Cool:

Keep drinking that water!
Regardless of the weather, it is important to stay hydrated during pregnancy, but it’s especially vital during the hot summer months to drink the amount you’ll be sweating out. Dehydration can worsen pregnancy aches, swelling and even trigger contractions.
Since you’ll be constantly sipping away, we suggest making it a little more interesting by adding a slice of lemon, lime, orange or even a sprig of mint to your water.
You could even opt for a fruity mocktail which will not only keep you hydrated, but will boost your vitamin C at the same time.

  • Get wet
    Water is your new best friend and it’s not just for drinking. When you’re on the go and need to keep your cool carry around a water-filled spritz bottle and spray yourself whenever you need to. Alternatively, you could use a cool facecloth on the back of your neck.
    A dip in the pool will also most certainly do the trick! It’s a great way to cool you off, ease the stress of your squished organs, support the growth of your baby and get a low-impact workout all at once.
  • Put your feet up
    Believe it or not, those chores can wait, or your partner can do them. Oedema can be worse in summer causing your calves, ankles and feet to swell and become extremely uncomfortable. Elevate your legs whenever you can and for added relief, when your partner is around, get them to massage your feet for you.
    If the urge to do chores is still too overwhelming, ensure you do them early in the day or late in the evening and where possible blast that aircon!
  • Wear light clothing
    Remember to wear breathable, lightweight, comfortable maternity wear. This will prevent you from overheating and allow sweat to evaporate – helping you avoid rashes and chafing.
  • Road trips
    If you’re planning on hitting the road for your summer holiday, make sure you stop frequently (every hour or two) to stretch your legs and get the circulation flowing. (If flying – walk up and down the aisle and flex/extend your ankles while seated)
    Don’t forget to pack snacks, water and a pillow!
  • Be sun smart
    Pregnant women are more prone to sunburn and dark pigmentation, so slather on the sunscreen and avoid the afternoon sun.

Keeping Your Newborn Cool:

Hot weather can be dangerous for babies especially newborns, as they don’t have well developed thermostats, so they can easily overheat quickly. They need to drink regularly, wear light breathable clothing and keep cool.

  • Keep the nursery cool
    During the day, keep blinds or curtains closed. You can also use a fan to circulate the air in the room making sure the fan is not directly blowing on your baby. A thermometer will help you monitor the temperature in the room to ensure it’s a comfortable temperature for your baby to sleep.
  • Keep clothing and bedding to a minimum
    A nappy and singlet or summer weight sleeping bag is all your baby needs to go to sleep in. On very hot days, a cool bath before bedtime will also be beneficial.
  • Car trips
    If you need to travel by car, try to make the trip during the cooler part of the day (early morning), keeping the car cool with the air conditioner or opening the windows. Make sure that baby is kept shaded. And remember, NEVER leave your baby in the car alone!
  • Keep them well hydrated
    Like adults, babies need plenty of fluids to stay hydrated in hotter weather. If you’re breastfeeding, your baby may want to feed more than usual, there is no need to give them water. Bottle fed babies may be given cooled boiled water throughout the day on top of their usual formula feeds.
  • Protect them from the sun
    Newborns should be kept out of direct sunlight, they can overheat and develop a heat-related illness. If you need to go out in the sun, keep baby shaded using a wide brimmed hat, sunshade on your pram or a parasol. You can also get baby sunglasses to protect their sensitive eyes. Even though they’re shaded, it is also recommended to apply sunscreen to your baby’s skin – there are many brands that produce sunscreen specifically for babies.

What to look out for:

Prickly Heat
This is an itchy rash of small, raised red spots that babies are at risk of getting as their sweat glands are not fully developed. It commonly affects areas of the skin that stay moist such as in the nappy area or under the chin – try using zinc or barrier cream to protect the skin. Frequent clothing changes and tepid baths can also help prevent prickly heat.

Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature rises above 40 degrees and parts of the body begin to stop working. Heatstroke can cause organ failure, brain damage and can even be fatal.

Symptoms include:

  • Temperature of 40 degrees or higher
  • Extreme sweating that suddenly stops (the body is unable to produce more sweat and is dehydrated)
  • Increased thirst, but as baby gets weaker they may drink less
  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sunken fontanelle
  • Fewer wet nappies and/or dark coloured urine
  • Dry mouth and eyes
  • Headache and muscle cramps
  • Baby becomes floppy and/or sleepy
  • Confusion, shortness of breath and vomiting
  • Coma

If your baby is showing any of these signs, they need urgent treatment! Call an ambulance or take baby to the emergency room.
Keep baby as cool as possible, removing excess clothing, placing them on a damp facecloth and fanning them. If your baby is conscious, keep trying to give them cool water to drink.

If you have any questions about having a comfortable pregnancy during the summer months or looking after your newborn, please don’t hesitate to give Dr Ljiljana a call for advice.