Unsafe Temperatures & Pregnancy: Lower Your Risks for Preterm Delivery
A freezing cold winter or a scorching summer day is no picnic for anyone, but researchers at the National Institutes of Health found preterm deliveries were associated with pregnant women who were exposed to extreme temperatures within their first seven weeks of pregnancy. The risk for early labor was also noted when pregnant women were exposed to extreme heat for the majority of their pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know about unsafe temps while pregnant and how to stay safe:
How Hot and How Cold?
A 2016 study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives linked 223,375 births at 12 clinical centers throughout the US to hourly temperature records for the region surrounding each center. Each location was taken into consideration for climate variability. In addition, women will have varying degrees of what constitutes too hot or too cold, so the researchers defined extreme cold temperatures as below the 10th percentile of average temperatures, and defined extreme heat as above the 90th percentile. Although it isn’t clear why extreme temperatures may cause a preterm risk for delivery, researchers speculate the stress of extreme temperatures could impede the development of the placenta or alter blood flow to the uterus, which could lead to early labor.
Baby, It’s Frigid Outside!
The study found that women exposed to extreme cold during the first seven weeks of pregnancy were at a 20 percent higher risk of preterm delivery before 34 weeks of gestation, and 9 percent increased risk of preterm birth between weeks 34 and 36. Stay indoors when the temperatures fall dangerously low. It could be a great opportunity to nest or just relish some me-time with Netflix and a bowl of popcorn. If your early pregnancy months are in the winter, get a down coat and dress in layers. Longer coats will also help keep your legs warm. Wear wool socks and insulated-lined snow boots. A lot of heat can escape through your head, so a wool hat is a must as well as scarves and insulated gloves.
Researchers found more women had early labor when they were exposed to extreme heat versus extreme cold.While it’s fairly easy to warm up when it’s cold but adding extra layers, but when it’s hot, pregnant women may be inclined to just bear it, especially if the cost of running air conditioning is too high or air conditioning isn’t available. So cooling down is just harder to do.
The early weeks of your pregnancy are the most crucial. If exposed to extreme heat in the first seven weeks, women had an 11 percent increase in preterm birth before 34 weeks and a 4 percent increased risk for delivery at 37 or 38 weeks. In addition, women who suffered extreme heat conditions for the majority of their pregnancy had an increased risk of preterm delivery at 34 weeks.
Keep Your Cool
Pregnant women naturally have a slightly higher body temperature than non-pregnant women so when temperatures rise, it’s even more uncomfortable. If possible, stay indoors with air conditioning. If you don’t have air conditioning, then use fans and make sure ceiling fans are spinning counterclockwise to create a cooler down flow. Use a cool washcloth on your face, neck, and the top of your head to keep cool and comfortable. Hand-held battery-operated spritz fans are also convenient for home and travel. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
When in Doubt, Stay Indoors
More research is needed to determine what exactly causes preterm labor in women who are exposed to extreme temperatures but in the meantime, it’s wise to just avoid any prolonged exposure to scorching hot and freezing cold days by staying indoors.
Do you live in a place with extreme temperatures? How do you plan on staying comfortable during your pregnancy? Share your tips with us!Tags : pregnancy health safety