Pregnancy and the Heat: 5 Expert Tips to Stay Cool if You Are Pregnant in the Summer

Fact checked by Megan Soliman MD, MSc
Board-certified physician at Saba University School of Medicine

Are you or someone you know pregnant, and feeling hotter than usual? It’s not uncommon to experience hot flashes and become easily overheated during pregnancy, which is uncomfortable — especially if you’re pregnant in the summer. Looking for ways to keep cool during those hot and humid summer days? Continue reading to find out why your body temperature rises during pregnancy and what you can do to cool off.

Why are you feeling hot during pregnancy?

If you are often feeling hot during pregnancy, you’re not alone. Several physical changes you go through in pregnancy can contribute to a higher body temperature:

  • Hormonal changes. Hormonal fluctuations, especially in the first and second trimesters, often cause hot flashes.
  • Increased blood flow. During pregnancy, you need more blood to carry oxygen and food to your growing baby. This increase in blood flow and volume — by the 34th week, your blood volume can rise by a whopping 50 percent! — leaves you feeling flushed and hot during pregnancy.
  • High metabolic rate. With this dramatic increase in blood volume, your heart has to work harder to ensure proper circulation. A higher heart rate boosts your metabolism, which in turn leads to a rise in body temperature.
  • Weight gain. Carrying a little extra weight during pregnancy is completely normal and healthy, but it can also make you feel hot and bothered.

Some external factors, such as caffeine, spicy food, and stress can also trigger a rise in body temperature. Although feeling a little too hot during pregnancy is completely normal and nothing to worry about, you may still want to check with your doctor to put your mind at peace and make sure everything is going smoothly. They may run some tests to look at your hormone levels and recommend ways to manage your increasing body temperature and stay cool.

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When do you start feeling hot in pregnancy?

Some women start getting hot flashes quite early in their pregnancy, especially if they suffer from particularly severe morning sickness. They are caused by hormonal shifts; for example, a higher level of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin. But a rise in body temperature is most common during the third trimester, when your growing baby generates heat inside your body. Because you absorb this heat, you can easily become overheated.

Hot flashes can persist after the pregnancy too due to hormonal fluctuations, particularly if you are breastfeeding.

Usually, these sweats are nothing to worry about — it’s your body’s natural response to all the changes it has to go through. But if you feel very uncomfortable and have any concerns, discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

How to cool off if you are pregnant in the summer

Pregnancy and heat are a tough combination. The physical changes you experience during pregnancy can make you feel warmer in any season. But if you are pregnant in the summer you may find it particularly difficult to stay cool.

Overheating during pregnancy can pose serious health risks to you and your baby, so keeping your cool in the heat isn't just a question of comfort. Let’s find out what can help you beat the heat in summer.

A pregnant woman in the summer with a water bottle to stay cool

1. Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water is vital if you’re pregnant in the summer. Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion and cause Braxton Hicks contractions. Make sure to sip water or other non-sugary drinks throughout the day, particularly when you spend a lot of time in the heat or during exercise.

Keep in mind that if you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated!

But be careful as too much water can lead to water intoxication, causing cramps, muscle aches, and in some cases even unconsciousness. Aim to drink 8–12 cups of water a day to stay hydrated.

2. Wear lightweight, breathable fabrics

Loose clothing made of natural, breathable material ensures proper air circulation and can help you cool down. Moisture-wicking fabrics can also prevent heat rash from developing under your breasts and abdomen, which is a common problem for pregnant women. Choose lighter-colored clothes as they don’t absorb as much sunlight and heat as dark colors.

3. Avoid going outside during the hottest hours

It’s best to avoid direct sunlight and stay in the shade during the hottest hours of the day — usually between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. — and plan any outdoor activities for the early morning or evening. WeatherWell can help you keep track of temperature changes and UV index, so it’s easier for you to plan your day. If you can’t stay out of the sun, wear sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher and cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat. It may also be a good idea to have a small umbrella or a parasol with you to shield yourself from strong sunlight.

A woman on the bench feeling hot during pregnancy

4. Splash cold water on your face

Water can do wonders in keeping you cool during summer. You can use a cool compress or just run your wrists under some cold water and dab it on your forehead and the back of your neck — it will help you cool down. If won’t have access to water when you’re out, carry a spray bottle filled with water with you and spritz your face and body when you start feeling hot.

5. Eat in small portions and often

Heavy meals can make you feel hot — your body needs more energy to digest them, which in turn increases your body temperature. So eating smaller portions throughout the day can help you stay cool. Opt for lighter options like salads, fruits, and vegetables with high water content.

When to see a doctor

Although summer’s heat can leave you tired and uncomfortable, feeling hot every now and then doesn’t cause any serious issues and health risks. However, being overheated for a long time can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, which can affect you and your baby. Watch out for these signs of heat exhaustion:

  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Clammy skin
  • Nausea

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Sometimes you may experience contractions after being overheated. In this case, it’s important to move to a cool, well-ventilated place, rehydrate, and rest. Contact your healthcare provider if the contractions persist or you notice any of these pregnancy warning signs:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Regular cramps
  • Puffy face or hands
  • Headaches or blurred vision
  • Lack of fetal movement
  • Pain during urination
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Low, dull backache

Final thoughts

Your body goes through several physical changes during pregnancy which can increase your body temperature and cause hot flashes. Staying cool can be particularly tough if you are pregnant in the summer. Even though hot flashes can be a nuisance, they generally don’t cause any major problems. But sometimes, spending a lot of time in high heat and humidity can lead to dehydration and heat exhaustion. This can put your health and the health of your developing baby at risk. So it’s crucial to recognize the early signs of heat exhaustion and stay cool and hydrated during the summer months. If you notice any unusual symptoms, feel lightheaded, or experience regular contractions, contact your healthcare provider as soon as you can.

October 11, 2022