Pregnancy Diary Week 27: Heatwave
Man, is it hot?! It is HOT! Just to clarify, we are in a heatwave. It is officially the warmest June day since 1976. OK, so hottest, coldest, wettest, driest, windiest, cloudiest (etc.) records aren’t that unusual in recent times, but we still love to make a big thing of them. And what is more, we Brits love a good moan and the chance to revel in the novelty of sunshine in whatever way we see fit. People go bonkers for revealing clothing and accompanying dodgy sunburn; newspaper headlines go bonkers for a heat wave headline (my favourite being: “Game, sweat and match for Murray”, the Daily Star cashing in on the added rarity of a Wimbledon/sunshine combo); public transport just goes bonkers. And as we literally and metaphorically engage in total melt down, people of all other nationalities laugh at the absurdity of a country on lock down after a couple of 28 degree days. The sad thing is that we spend all year longing for the summer and then when it does finally arrive we are very quick to announce that it’s actually a bit too hot. I usually resist jumping on this bandwagon as I’m not normally one to suffer in the heat, however, the last few days have been a bit challenging. It’s hard to tell how much of this is pregnancy related, but as your temperature is raised whilst pregnant, you tend to be hotter anyway. Consequently, increases in external temperature can cause additional difficulties. I have started to get swollen feet, dizziness and general fatigue — good old pregnancy favourites. My feet do look a bit like those funny feet ice creams at the best of times (i.e. fat little hobbit feet), but with the added heat and water retention they are extra puffy and extra sore. I have also had several evenings where my feet and hands have literally felt like they were on fire. As a result I have been unable to bring them into contact with any surface other than a packet of frozen peas, much to my husband’s amusement: “I can’t touch anything!” [screeched whilst sitting on the sofa with my arms and legs in the air]. This is especially irritating as during the early stages of my pregnancy throughout January and February, I was bloody freezing. So I have also sat on the very same sofa, wearing joggers over leggings, two t-shirts, a hoodie, a woollen cardigan, a hat, socks, slippers and a blanket, with my husband laughing at me in a similar way. Fortunately, there is lots of advice out there about how to regulate your temperature during pregnancy. A few of the less obvious nuggets include drinking tepid water in the heat. Ice water might seem really appealing and can cool your body quickly, but it constricts blood vessels and sends signals to retain heat rather than get rid of it, which actually means that your body stays warmer in the longer term. Who knew? Similarly, a quick way to cool down is to run tepid water from the tap and with your palms facing up, put your wrists under the flow of water for a few minutes. This is easiest with a mixer tap, but if you don’t have one you can run a sink full of tepid water and submerge your hands and wrists. Both strategies gently cool your pulse points where your blood is close to the surface, and act to decrease your core temperature. Win win. Using a fan might seem like a no brainer but if you do only that it just serves to blow around the already warm air, making you feel like you’re being breathed on by a dragon. If you stand a large bottle of frozen water in front of the fan this circulates cooler air and gives you a more refreshing breeze, helpful for sleeping or sofa dwelling. There are lots of tips for keeping warm in winter too, which I have also needed desperately. Using a microwaveable wheat bag can tackle several pregnancy woes at once. My husband bought me one of these to use in addition to my layers of clothing and it was great for keeping warm as well as easing back pain and other aches. Unlike a hot water bottle, it’s less easy to scold yourself with a wheat bag (something I’d be really good at doing in my current clumsy state), and the flexible shape moulds round your body like a cosy little hug. You can get scented ones filled with lavender or other herbs for an aromatherapy bonus that can help with stress and tension or headaches, for example. Making sure you have some warm and sturdy footwear is another must to help you stay cosy and safe whilst out and about in cold weather. It’s really common for your feet to change size during pregnancy, so particularly if you’re shopping online (shops can be a drag at the best of times but more so when you’re pregnant and it’s effing snowing), making sure your new shoes or boots fit and are supportive as well as warm is a must. In winter and in summer (autumn and spring too), don’t be frightened to embrace your true Britishness and have a good old moan. Whether or not you are actually British, if you are pregnant, moaning is A OK. Growing a human is a tough job and sweating like Lee Evans or shivering like John Snow north of the wall all add to the difficulty, so this is definitely one of our free passes during these nine months.