Summer in Dubai can be a sticky time for us all, but if you’re weighed down with child, it’s even more exasperating.
Expectant mums’ body temperatures are a bit higher than normal anyway, so even minor lifts in the mercury – if you can call a 48 degree scorcher minor – will have mums-to-be wilting and wailing and ankles expanding at an alarming rate. Here are some tips to making yourself more comfortable.
Drink plenty of fluids
‘The best thing you can do,’ says Dr Grace Jacob, consultant obstetrician at the American Hospital, ‘is drink, drink, drink.’ She recommends throwing back at least two litres a day of water, juices, milk etc, but says to avoid fizzy drinks and limit tea and coffee to just one cup a day. ‘Pregnant ladies have to realise that even in an air-conditioned environment they are losing a lot of water. This can lead to dehydration and possibly urine infections.’
Many pregnancy ailments can, in part, be down to insufficient fluid intake. Tiredness, lack of energy and headaches are all signs that you’re not drinking or eating enough. It’s fine to take one or two paracetamol if you have a pounding head, but try to correct the root cause – probably dehydration or low blood sugar. If you’re feeling weary, have another glass of water. You’ll be peeing all the time, but given you’re probably at the loo six times an hour anyway, what’s one more trip?
Eat small, regular meals
If you have the equivalent of a bowling ball stuffed down your trousers, you don’t fancy munching your way through three hefty meals a day. Just as well. Dr Grace recommends eating regular, small portions, every two hours, to keep blood sugar regular and minimise indigestion. ‘If you suffer from heartburn, eat half a green apple after every meal – that should help,’ she says. Salad is great pregnancy food, provided you’ve made it yourself, but be wary of salads and cold cuts when dining out. ‘You don’t know how well the food has been washed and there’s a risk of food poisoning. Avoid these all year round,’ says Dr Grace.
Wear loose clothing
When your bits are ballooning, they’re likely to chafe, particularly in the breast and abdomen area, so wear natural, breathable fabrics that keep you cool and protect against heat rash. Make sure your underwear is cotton and well-fitting. Experts caution against underwired bras because the rigid wire may interfere with the natural changes of size and shape during pregnancy. ‘It’s better not to wear under-wired bras but do make sure you have enough support,’ says Dr Grace.
Also, think about your shoes. Tottering around on high heels will not help swollen ankles and you’ll end up looking like a character in a Beryl Cook painting, only sweatier. Dubai is not short on sparkly flip-flops, so there’s no need to sacrifice style either. Top it off with a wide-brimmed floppy hat and you’ll not only feel cool, you’ll have the yummy mummy look from the start.
If you’re prone to feeling hot and bothered, make your own cool kit with a bottle of water and a damp facecloth to mop your forehead or neck. Perhaps buy an Evian water spray or a small plastic spray bottle filled with tap water – and give yourself a cooling squirt when you’re feeling flushed.
Watch the air con
Many of us start sniffling in the height of summer, often because we’re switching from the scorching heat outside to icy air conditioning. Set your controls to a warm temperature so you don’t get the shivers when you come inside, and pack a pashmina or cardigan if you’re going shopping or out to dinner.
Exercise is great all through pregnancy. It keeps your body fit and prepared for the test of childbirth and it helps minimise weight gain. But, be honest, you’re hardly likely to be sprinting round Safa Park in the midday Dubai sun. Swimming is a great alternative. It’s easy on those aching joints and it keeps you cool and feeling weightless (at least until you haul yourself out of the water). If you fancy a walk, go window shopping in some of the city’s quieter malls. ‘Mall walking is fine. Just remember you can feel giddy in a crowded atmosphere. Stuffy air is not good for pregnant women at any time of the year,’ says Dr Grace.
Don’t forget that growing a baby is hard work, and a great excuse to schedule in some relaxation time, indoors and out of the heat. Try to rest for at least an hour every day, even if it’s just lying down for a little while on your left side, which optimises blood flow to the placenta. The phrase ‘put your feet up’ could have been invented for expectant mums, as that’s exactly what you should do if you’re suffering from swollen ankles. ‘Mostly this occurs because ladies have been in the heat or standing up for a long time.
If their blood pressure is normal and there’s no protein in the urine, it’s fine, but make sure you get plenty of rest.’ You don’t have to have a full-on nap, just make sure you sit down with the newspaper, or treat yourself to a pedicure, and remind yourself it’s for the good of bambino.
Don’t neglect symptoms
Visit your doctor if you’re worried about any symptoms. Headaches could be an early sign of increased blood pressure, and swollen ankles may indicate pre-eclampsia, which can reduce the blood flow to the placenta. A quick blood pressure and urine test should put your mind at rest.
If you want to make an appointment to see Dr Grace, call the American Hospital on 04 336 7777.