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Top midwife gives health advice to pregnant women during UK heatwave

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Pregnant woman in the sun

George Eliot Hospital's top midwife has issued tips to women who are pregnant to help keep them cool during the UK heatwave.

With temperatures expected to soar to 33ºC in some parts of the UK tomorrow (Thursday) Claire Price, Associate Director of Midwifery at George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton issued the following advice to pregnant women, who may be more susceptible to the effects of the rising temperature levels:

Top tips during heat wave for pregnant women

  • Avoid the heat. Stay out of the sun during the day particularly during the current heatwave conditions
  • Have lukewarm showers and baths. Cold showers/baths can cause your body to retain heat.
  • Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. You can open the windows for ventilation when it is cooler.
  • Stay in the shade and avoid sunbathing. Pregnant women may find their skin more sensitive to the sun during hot weather.
  • Manage hot flushes. Carry a small spray with you to cool you down.
  • Keep hydrated. Keep a small re-usable water bottle with you at all times and keep this refilled.
  • Reduce salt intake. This will help to combat water retention
  • Siesta. Sleep more and take a nap in the afternoon in a cool room
  • BBQ safely. BBQ’s are popular in the summer but food can spoil if left out too long in the sun. Avoid the risk of unnecessary stomach upsets.
  • Monitor heatwave advice. Listen to heatwave alerts on the radio, TV and social media about keeping cool. 
  • Dress to keep cool. Wear loose, light clothing, and a hat and sunglasses if you go outdoors. Cotton is cooler.
  • Avoid swollen feet. Minimise time spent standing, wear comfortable shoes, put your feet up regularly and do a few foot exercises to reduce swelling and cramp in your calf muscles.

Claire Price also suggests that pregnant women visiting the maternity hospital for an appointment during hot weather should bring a cold drink with them and wear light loose clothing.

A few ways to reduce swollen ankles, feet and fingers in pregnancy

Hot weather can increase swelling in ankles, legs, feet and fingers during your pregnancy.

It is normal to get some swelling in pregnancy but this can often be worse during hot weather, at the end of the day or further into your pregnancy. Although uncomfortable it isn’t usually harmful to you or your baby and can be reduced.

NHS Choices have recommended a few ways to reduce swollen ankles, feet and fingers in pregnancy.

Normal pregnancy swelling

Swelling is caused by your body holding more water than usual when you are pregnant. Throughout the day the extra water tends to gather in the lowest parts of the body, especially if the weather is hot or if you have been standing a lot.

The pressure of your growing womb can also affect the blood flow in your legs. This can cause fluid to build up in your legs, ankles and feet.

Things you can do to avoid and ease swelling

Try to:

  • avoid standing for long periods
  • wear comfortable shoes and socks – avoid tight straps or anything that might pinch if your feet swell
  • try to rest with your feet up as much as you can
  • drink plenty of water – this helps your body get rid of excess water
  • exercise – try to take regular walks during the day or try doing foot exercises

 

Foot exercises

You can do foot exercises sitting or standing. They improve blood circulation, reduce swelling in the ankles, and prevent cramp in the calf muscles:

  • bend and stretch your foot up and down 30 times
  • rotate each foot in a circle 8 times one way and 8 times the other way

 

Advice if you experience a sudden increase in swelling

A sudden increase in swelling however, can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a condition that affects some pregnant women, usually during the second half of pregnancy (from around 20 weeks) or soon after the birth.

Call your midwife or GP immediately if you have:

  • a sudden increase in swelling in your face, hands or feet
  • a very bad headache
  • problems with your vision, such as blurring or flashing lights in your eyes
  • severe pain just below your ribs
  • vomiting with any of these symptoms

 

These could be symptoms of pre-eclampsia, which can lead to serious complications if it's not monitored and treated.

For more information log onto www.geh.nhs.uk

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For a full list of the services we provide, go to our website www.geh.nhs.uk/directory-of-services

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