Overheating (Hyperthermia) During Pregnancy – Causes, Risks and Remedies

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Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist )
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Overheating (Hyperthermia) During Pregnancy - Causes, Risks and Remedies

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Yes, you heard it right! Overheating is a phenomenon, and our negligence and carelessness are responsible for it. Many of us forget to drink water at regular intervals until the time we get thirsty. During pregnancy, another precious life is solely dependent upon you for all its nutritional requirements. So, you need to ensure adequate fluid intake along with the right diet for a fit and healthy pregnancy.

What is Overheating in Pregnancy?

If your body temperature (which is normally about 37-degrees Centigrade) rises above 39.5-degrees Centigrade during pregnancy, then it is termed as overheating. The medical term used for overheating during pregnancy is hyperthermia.

Signs of Overheating

As serious implications as it could pose, the worst part about overheating is that you may not feel any kind of discomfort even if your body temperature rises. However, lookout for the following symptoms to determine if your body is getting overheated:

  • Dizziness
  • A feeling of lightheadedness
  • A feeling of nausea or vomiting sensation
  • Feeling dehydrated
  • Fainting
  • A sudden feeling of cold or chills
  • Suddenly you feel dryness in the mouth
  • Uncontrolled and excessive sweating
  • An unpleasant feeling of clamminess

Pregnancy Overheating Causes

Overheating can be caused due to any of the following reasons:

  • Excessive physical exertion in hot weather conditions causes overheating in pregnancy during the first trimester.
  • High-intensity physical exercises for prolonged hours.
  • Indulging in a sauna bath
  • Soaking in a hot water bathtub for a long time.
  • High fever due to infection or other medical condition.

Risks of Overheating in Pregnancy

The effects of overheating during pregnancy are as under:

  • Overheating in pregnancy during the first trimester can also lead to miscarriage.
  • Overheating can cause some serious birth defects like foetal growth retardation, intrauterine death, and neural abnormality.
  • A few studies have shown that high fever in the mother’s body can also result in cleft lip and palate in the baby which means there are openings in the upper lip and upper portion of the mouth
  • Hyperthermia can also cause neural tube defects in the baby, especially during the first trimester.

Couple sad about miscarriage

Can Exercise Cause Overheating?

We all know exercising is always good for health. Even during pregnancy exercising helps strengthen your muscles, keeps your heart healthy and makes you feel active. But overexertion during pregnancy may lead to overheating. High-intensity workouts in extremely hot and humid climatic conditions for a prolonged period can lead to overheating. So it is better to stick to moderate, low-intensity exercises as suggested by the trainer throughout your pregnancy and do not work out for more than 45 minutes at a stretch. Avoid exercising during extremely hot days.

How to Stay Cool During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your body basal temperature remains elevated throughout. This is because the body pumps in 40-50 % extra blood than it usually does to develop the growing foetus in the body. Since the body is working hard, it automatically generates heat in the core, and during summers the external heat adds on to the misery. Hot and humid climate also triggers overheating in pregnancy during the third trimester. So, the mommy-to-be needs to take good care to remain cool and beat the heat! Here are a few tips to prevent you from hyperthermia.

You must adhere to the following precautions in order to avoid overheating during pregnancy:

1. Adequate Intake of Water

You must drink water at regular intervals of time, even if you do not feel thirsty. Adequate intake of water has many health benefits like removing toxins from the body, enhancing energy levels, increasing brain function, and avoiding dehydration in the body.

2. Avoid Saunas

It’s better to avoid a steam bath, hot massages and sauna altogether throughout your pregnancy. Even soaking in hot water bathtubs is not recommended as it will elevate your body temperature. Only a warm water bath is advisable during pregnancy.

3. Avoid Excessive Physical Strain

As mentioned earlier, it is better to avoid high-intensity exercises during pregnancy. Not just exercising, any type of strenuous activity like carrying weights, household work, etc. should be avoided.

4. Avoid Going Out During Extremely Hot Days

Avoid walking around during afternoons and early evenings, as it might cause sunstroke or hyperthermia. It is better to stay indoors or travel safely without being exposed to heat for long.

5. Wear Cool and Light Clothing

Avoid wearing heavy clothes during pregnancy. Comfortable clothing which is loose, light and breathable is perfect during summers.

Pregnant woman in light clothes

6. Adequate Intake of Fluids

Try to include as many fluids possible in your diet. You can include fresh fruit juices, soups, etc. in your diet which will be refreshing as well as enhance your fluid intake. It’s advisable not to consume fizzy drinks and cold drinks.

7. Avoid Caffeine

Pregnant or not, caffeine has a lot of ill-effects on our bodies such as restlessness, insomnia, irritability, and even stress at times. So, it is better to cut the intake of caffeine altogether from your diet. Instead, switch to refreshing smoothies which will keep your body cool.

8. Indulge in Swimming

Swimming is considered to be one of the best and soothing exercises during pregnancy. Swimming is safe to be practised during the entire course of pregnancy and will help you stay cool.

9. Practice Meditation

Meditation will let you breathe deep and relaxes your mind and body from stress. You can try breathing exercises to connect with your inner self and your baby. Meditation and breathing exercises calm your senses and bring down the body temperature, thereby, reducing the chances of getting overheated.

Overheating or hyperthermia can easily be avoided or tackled during pregnancy, with just a few measures. Do not be worried, as overheating occurs only in extreme conditions and the mommies who drink plenty of water usually will not get overheated. Stay cool and enjoy your pregnancy!

Also Read:

Travelling during Pregnancy
Dancing during Pregnancy
Walking during Pregnancy

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