Being pregnant in hot weather can be uncomfortable or worse. Heatwaves and high temperatures can put you at risk of dangers like dehydration and sunstroke. Here we share some tips for keeping cool during pregnancy.
It’s common for women to feel warmer in pregnancy (Jones et al, 1985; Raines, 2018). Although little evidence shows any rise in core body temperature, skin temperature seems to increase during pregnancy (Jones et al, 1985; Clapp, 1991; Lindqvist et al, 2003).
For some women being pregnant over summer can be a challenge. Hot weather or a heatwave can lead to dehydration, fatigue, and even heatstroke (NHS, 2018a). So it’s important to find ways of keeping cool when pregnant.
Rachel Heathcock, NCT Antenatal Teacher, offers her tips in this video.
Five tips for keeping cool when pregnant
1. Stay hydrated
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to help prevent dehydration – your wee should be a pale clear colour (NHS, 2018a). You will need to increase the amount of water that you drink, as you will sweat more in warmer weather (Public Health England and NHS England, 2018).
Keep a bottle of water with you during the day and drink frequently (NHS, 2018a). At night, keep some water nearby and if you wake up, have a sip even if it means a night-time trip to the toilet. Ensure you drink plenty of water when you exercise in warm weather (RCOG, 2006).
2. Keep clothing cool
Try to wear light coloured and loose-fitting clothing, as this allows air to circulate close to your skin to help cool you down (NHS, 2018b). Lightweight, natural fabrics like linen or cotton are better than synthetics, because they can absorb and draw away more dampness from your skin (Public Health England and NHS England, 2018).
When you are out and about, wear a sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen to help protect you from the sun’s rays (Public Health England and NHS England, 2018). Try taking a water spray bottle with you to cool you down if it’s really hot.
At night, keep bedding to a minimum to avoid overheating.
3. Adjust your exercise
You might need to adjust your exercise plan while pregnant, particularly if there’s a heatwave. If your body temperature rises too high in the early stages of pregnancy, there are risks as we mention below. So make sure you aren’t over-exerting yourself, particularly in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (RCOG, 2006).
It’s best to avoid exercising in a very hot and humid climate until you have acclimatised, which will take a few days (RCOG, 2006). Make sure you have a water bottle with you if you are exercising.
4. Beat the heat
Avoid being in the sun for long periods, as this increases the risk of dehydration (NHS, 2018b). If you do go out and it’s really hot, be prepared – wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a sunhat. Otherwise, you could sit in the shade and avoid being in the sun during the warmest part of the day (between 11am and 3pm) (Public Health England and NHS England, 2018).
If you feel faint or ill, try to find a cool and shady spot to sit or lie down in and drink plenty of water (Public Health England and NHS England, 2018). Seek medical advice if you continue to feel ill in the heat, or you are worried you might be dehydrated or have heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Heatstroke is a medical emergency (NHS, 2018b).
5. Chill out…and put your feet up
Try and avoid doing too much when it’s hot, if you can. Pregnancy can be tiring even when it's cool, so rest often. Ankles, feet and fingers can swell in pregnancy, as your body retains more water than usual (NHS, 2018c). So try to avoid standing for long periods, wear comfy shoes and put your feet up as much as possible (NHS, 2018c).
Try to take it easy for an hour a day with your feet higher than your heart. You could prop yourself up with cushions as you lie on the sofa. Gentle foot exercises during the day may also help reduce swelling in your ankles (NHS, 2018c).
High temperature risks
If your body temperature rises above 39.2°C in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, your baby has a slightly increased risk of birth defects (Moretti et al, 2005; RCOG, 2006). You are not likely to get this hot unless you have a fever or exercise in a very hot and humid climate you aren’t acclimatised to (RCOG, 2006). So remember to take it easy when it’s particularly hot.
Find out more in our hot weather and high body temperature during pregnancy article.
This page was last reviewed in April 2018
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
We also offer online antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
The British Red Cross have useful information about coping in the heat.
Read more about heat exhaustion and heat stroke from NHS Choices.
Clapp III JF. (1991) The changing thermal response to endurance exercise during pregnancy. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. 165(6):1684-1689. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1750460 [Accessed 1st April 2018]
Jones RL, Botti JJ, Anderson WM, Bennett NL. (1985) Thermoregulation during aerobic exercise in pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 65(3):340-345. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3974960 [Accessed 1st April 2018]
Lindqvist PG, Marsal K, Merlo J, Pirhonen JP. (2003). Thermal response to submaximal exercise before, during and after pregnancy: a longitudinal study. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. 13(3):152-156. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12820836 [Accessed 1st April 2018]
Moretti ME, Bar-Oz B, Fried S, Koren G. (2005) Maternal hyperthermia and the risk for neural tube defects in offspring: systematic review and meta-analysis. Epidemiology. 16(2):216-219. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15703536 [Accessed 1st April 2018]
NHS. (2018a) Dehydration. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dehydration/ [Accessed 1st April 2018]
NHS. (2018b) Heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heat-exhaustion-heatstroke/ [Accessed 1st April 2018]
NHS. (2018c) Swollen ankles, feet, and fingers in pregnancy. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/swollen-ankles-feet-pregnant/ [Accessed 1st April 2018]
Public Health England; NHS England. (2018) Beat the heat: staying safe in summer. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/615548/Beat_the_heat_leaflet_2017.pdf [Accessed 1st April 2018]
Raines D. (2018) Is it normal for a pregnant woman’s body temperature to rise? Available from: https://www.sharecare.com/health/fertility-pregnancy-childbirth/normal-pregnant-womans-body-temp-to-rise [Accessed 1st April 2018]
RCOG. (2006) Recreational exercise and pregnancy: information for you. Available from: https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-information-leaflets/pregnancy/recreational-exercise-and-pregnancy.pdf [Accessed 1st April 2018]