If you are concerned about overheating during your pregnancy workouts and want to know more on avoiding this read on for your safe pregnancy exercise guide!
Myths and Facts: overheating in pregnancy
Whilst the summer weather is variable nevertheless anxiety about overheating in pregnancy is common amongst many Mammas-to-be. And it’s not just the sun and outside temperature that causes angst – many expectant mums have told us they were put off exercising during pregnancy because they were scared about overheating when pregnant.
We’d like to allay your fears and offer some guidelines to make sure you don’t overheat!
Your core body temperature can increase by around 0.60 when you become pregnant and some areas of your skin can become hotter by around 2-60 contributing to your ‘pregnancy glow’.
It is true that some studies have shown that overheating during the first trimester can be associated with neural tube defects and test on animals (note the word ‘animals’!) have associated overheating in later pregnancy with lower birth weight. However we have struggled to find ANY scientific evidence directly linking exercising whilst pregnant with birth defects as a result of overheating.
A core body temperature of 39.20C or above is considered risky – but to put this into perspective, a study on women exercising at moderate to high intensity for 20 minutes in late pregnancy, recorded temperature increases of just 0.5 degrees C to 37.30C – which is still well below the ‘risk’ level.
The benefits of exercising during pregnancy are many and, if you exercise sensibly, the chances of you overheating are low.
Fundamentally our bodies are exceptionally good at regulating internal temperature.
Changes in your body during pregnancy will help to regulate your body temperature.
You have up to 50% more blood in your body during pregnancy with increased blood flow to the skin. Heat loss is achieved by a process known as vasodilation – a widening of the blood vessels supplying the skin which activates the sweat glands, cooling your body. In early pregnancy heat dissipation is increased by up to 30% and this increases still further in late pregnancy as your body mass gets bigger.
And here’s an interesting fact that isn’t specifically about pregnancy overheating! Human beings have 3-4 million sweat glands on their skin –all working to help regulate your body temperature.
Here are a few simple guidelines to make sure you don’t overheat during your pregnancy exercise
- Exercise outdoors whenever possible – but not in hot, humid conditions (humidity makes it harder for sweat to evaporate)
- When exercising indoors make sure there is good ventilation and air circulation
- Stay hydrated – you need to make sure you replace the fluid lost via sweating so drink plenty of water before, during and after your pregnancy workout.
- Wear appropriate maternity sportswear – the FittaMamma range all features CoolDry technology to wick moisture away from your skin and help to keep you cool
- Remember the ‘talk test’. This is a useful measure of the intensity of physical activity, not just an encouragement to chat whilst you exercise. You should be able to hold a conversation whilst exercising without feeling out of breath or uncomfortable.
- If you’re exercising in water, avoid pools that are above 320C
- Exercise during pregnancy should be about maintaining fitness, not improving it – don’t push yourself too hard
- Stop exercising if you feel faint or dizzy and stop exercising if you feel nauseous or start to vomit
- Don’t be tempted by an post-workout session in the sauna or the hot-tub – sitting in a hot tub is far more likely to cause you to overheat than your pregnancy exercise routine
If you have any anxieties about your health or your pregnancy consult your midwife, doctor or health professional.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
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Pregnancy and fitness: Coulson and Bolitho