Ah the glow of pregnancy, isn't it just beautiful? Eh no, no it's not. For some women, all they seem to have to do is go from sitting to standing and they break out in a sweat! Do you find yourself peeling off the layers sometimes when everyone else isn't even warm?! All this increased heat and sweating is a right royal pain in the bum.
So why is it exactly that as pregnant women we tend to get all hot and sweaty more easily? What do we need to avoid doing? And is there anything we can do to reduce the sweats?
Why the increased sweatiness?!
As we know, the body is under enormous change during pregnancy. It has to work extra hard as the mother's body has increased heat from a multitude of sources.
Importantly, the growing baby also relies on its mother for heat dissipation (a reduction in temperature), so her body is responsible for getting rid of the extra heat from her own and from her baby's body.
Why is it important?
It's important for a pregnant woman to not get too hot, as it can cause complications for baby's development, and in severe cases can lead to birth defects. Our bodies are very clever though as we have additional inbuilt methods that a pregnant body uses to cool itself down. One of which is increased sweating! So even though it is a pain, it's a brilliant thing! A pregnant lady actually starts sweating at a lower body temperature that a non-pregnant woman. Also, as the body grows, there is a larger surface area (lots more skin!) from which heat can escape through.
How to manage the sweats?
1. Exercise: this seems counterintuitive as surely exercise will cause me to sweat more?! I hear ya, but regular exercise actually improves a pregnant woman’s ability to reduce her core temperature by increasing the blood volume & skin’s blood vessels dilate to allow cooling.
What do we need to avoid during exercise?
Core body temperature should not exceed 38C /100.5F. Exercise in cool spaces and avoid exercising in the heat of the day if you are living in a warm climate. If you are in the gym, make sure you are near some air-conditioning. Also, avoid any lengthy period in saunas and hot tubs.
Certainly, anything longer than 30 mins can have stronger risks of driving up your core body temperature.
2. Hydration: keeping hydrated is incredibly important. When you are exercising, ensure you keep hydrated throughout - drink every 15 minutes, or drink to thirst. Always have a bottle of water with you. Problems of heat dissipation can occur where mama is dehydrated and might not sweat properly
3. Layers: use your common sense here. As you are getting dressed, think about a few loose and light layers which you can easily take off during your day.
4. Cool down: taking a tepid shower, bath or swim are all lovely ways to cool down your body, and handily enough, is also a chance for a bit of me-time...and I love my me-time. Even standing in front of a cool window for 5 mins can be glorious.
5. Be prepared: like the brownies or girl guides, it helps to be prepared. When I was pregnant, I remember some night times waking up with a damp, clammy body - attractive I know!! But being practical like placing an absorbent towel down on your bed and wearing 100% cotton pjs, can help - not those cheap pjs which feel soft and cosy when you put them on, but it turns into a sweat fest after an hour in the bed.
Above all else, if you have a feeling that something isn't quite right, or you are experiencing other symptoms in addition to sweating, always go to your GP or medical provider and discuss your worries to ensure there is nothing else going on in the body. Always trust your gut feel!
If you are looking to take some exercise with a qualified professional, why not look at my 7-week Prenatal Yoga & Birth Preparation Program. Until then, sweat on sister.
Helen Plass is a Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist, and Yoga Instructor, working with women and their birthing partners to achieve a comfortable, healthy & happy journey into Pregnancy, birth and Motherhood. She is known for her very practical & non-judgmental approach to pregnancy and the crazy times of motherhood. Check out all her communication at NurtureMamas.com, and if you are in Ireland, her local business MumandBaby.ie