Body Temperature During Pregnancy
Overheating during pregnancy can negatively affect a baby, depending on the heat intensity and the trimester.
We have great sympathy when we see women in the third trimester who are sweaty and uncomfortable in the summer heat. For those in the first trimester, however, body temperature is a greater safety issue. Miscarriage is a risk during early fetal development, when high temperatures can disrupt the development of vital proteins. High temperatures can also disrupt brain and spinal column formation, leading to birth defects.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women never let their core body temperature rise above 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit. (A pregnant woman's body temperature is often already elevated around 0.4 degrees above the normal 98.6.)
In the winter, this means pregnant women should avoid hot tubs and saunas, which can quickly elevate body temperatures above safe levels. Under Florida's summer sun, this means finding ways to keep cool while remaining active. Here are a few:
Drink fluids: at least 8 cups (64 oz.) of water daily. Being hydrated helps keep your body cool, fights constipation and decreases water retention.
Go for a swim. Swimming cools you off and takes pressure off the sciatic nerve. Dip into the ocean periodically during those beach days.
Take a water exercise class. Water aerobics is a low-impact way to strengthen and stretch your muscles while keeping cool.
Prevent sunburns! A sunburn will elevate your internal temperature. Use at least SPF 45. Reapply. Reapply. *Read the ingredients and avoid sunscreens containing oxybenzone.
Plan outdoor activities in morning or evening. Otherwise,seek out shaded areas (a cool cabana or beach umbrella).
Take cool showers. A cool shower, or one no warmer than 100 degrees, will reduce your core temperature.
Carry a portable fan. Pair this with a water mister or facial spray.
When exercising, keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute. Try to exercise for about 30 minutes each day, but slow down your pace and intensity if you become very short of breath.
Exercise inside an air-conditioned space, when possible. Wear lightweight clothing and cut your workout short if you feel too warm.
As always, you should consult your obstetrician immediately if your elevated temperature is caused by a fever from illness or infection.