With the temperatures in NM creeping up quickly and lots of fun outdoor activities, the weather can be uncomfortable for anyone. But for pregnant women, the summer heat may be more risky that you think. That is because getting too hot or dehydrated can possibly cause some pregnancy complications that we don’t particularly want to see.
Dehydration can create a lot of potential problems for pregnant women that are concerning. Pregnancy causes a number of changes in our bodies, including the way that we handle fluids and control body temperature. As a result, pregnant women may become dehydrated more easily or may be more likely to show symptoms of dehydration than they would if they weren’t pregnant. Dehydration can cause dizziness and lightheadedness, as well as producing a hormone called vasopressin (which triggers thirst). This hormone is similar to oxytocin (the hormone involved in stimulating uterine contractions) and is particularly concerning in the 3rd trimester because it can trigger intermittent uterine contractions, which often leads to hospital visits.
Abnormally high body temperatures, called hyperthermia, are also a concern. Particularly in early pregnancy, extremely high body temperatures may increase the risk of birth defects. Women who experience hyperthermia in the first 6-8 weeks of pregnancy are at higher risk of having babies with defects of the brain or spinal cord. However, this is mostly limited to the first 8 weeks of pregnancy and a spike in body temperature after this time frame is unlikely to increase risks of birth defects. Hyperthermia can be caused from fever, exposure to excessively hot temperatures outside or even a dip in a hot tub. It is recommended that pregnant women avoid hot tubs or spend no more than 10 minutes at a time to decrease the risks of hyperthermia.
For all of these reasons, it is important for pregnant women to stay hydrated. So how can you prevent dehydration and provide the best environment for your growing baby? You can accomplish this by drinking at least 8-12 glass of water a day, limiting caffeine intake (because this increases urine output which can lead to dehydration) and avoiding long periods of time in direct sunlight. An easy sign of hydration status is your urine color. Your urine should be a clear yellow color as opposed to dark yellow. If your urine is dark yellow, you need to increase your water intake and avoid activities that are likely to increase your body temperature. By doing these simple things, you will help to ensure a positive outcome for both you and your baby.
-Erin Flint, CNP