Doha News spoke to Dr. Gadha Mohiyiddeen, an Obstetrician at Sidra Medical and Research Center, to know more about pregnant women’s health during the scorching summer sun.
A recent report warned how women face more of a risk by rising temperatures, and experts in Qatar say the issue is more dire for pregnant women.
The study, spanning India, Nigeria, and the United States, concluded that escalating temperatures extract a yearly cost of $120 billion from women in these countries, primarily due to lost work hours.
In the peak summer months, Qatar experiences intense heat that poses unique challenges to all residents, particularly pregnant women.
Dr. Gadha Mohiyiddeen, an Obstetrician at Sidra Medical and Research Center, shared with Doha News insightful advice on how expectant mothers can protect themselves and their babies during this challenging period.
She said it is well known that pregnant women are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses than their non-pregnant counterparts.
“This is because their bodies must work harder to cool down both the pregnant woman’s body and the developing baby,” Dr. Mohiyiddeen said.
As such, dehydration, a common risk during heat waves, poses a particularly significant threat to this group. To combat dehydration, the doctor recommends consistent hydration throughout the day.
“Pregnant women should carry a water bottle at all times,” she advises, adding that they should avoid sugary, caffeinated beverages that can worsen dehydration, especially if undertaking outdoor activities.
Heat exhaustion is another concern during the summer months. According to Dr. Mohiyiddeen, its symptoms include muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, and feeling faint.
She advised anyone experiencing these symptoms to immediately seek shade or a cool place and to remove excess clothing. Vigilance with infants and children who are entirely reliant on others to stay cool and hydrated is also crucial to keeping them healthy and safe.
While discussing apparel, Dr. Mohiyiddeen suggested pregnant women opt for loose-fitting, lightweight, and breathable clothing made from natural fabrics like cotton.
Light-coloured clothing can also help reflect the sun’s rays and keep them cooler.
To ensure optimal health and safety during the peak summer weather, she advocates for a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, and cautions against excessive salt intake. Additionally, pregnant women should consider modifying their physical activity and exercise routines.
“During peak heat hours, typically between 10 am and 4 pm, try to limit outdoor activities and opt for indoor, air-conditioned spaces instead,” she said.
Keep cool, always
She also mentioned the benefits of cooling methods such as hand fans, mini portable fans with mist spray, and cool showers or baths.
When it comes to venturing outside during peak heat hours, Dr. Mohiyiddeen urged pregnant women to stay informed through local news health and safety updates.
Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses are essentials to protecting the skin and eyes. Monitoring air quality and staying indoors on days of poor air quality is also highly advised.
“They should rest when needed and avoid strenuous activities,” she says, adding that swelling in the feet or ankles should be addressed by elevating the feet.
For any signs of not coping well with the heat, like dizziness, fainting, headache, palpitations, nausea, vomiting, excessive swelling, or agitation and confusion, seeking medical attention is a must.
Sidra medicine offers 24/7 emergency care to support pregnant women with pregnancy-related conditions if needed.
Dr. Mohiyiddeen also underscored the importance of regular prenatal checkups throughout pregnancy, irrespective of the weather.
Pregnant women should consult their healthcare provider for personalised advice on staying safe and healthy based on their medical history and current health status. She recommends being dropped close to the hospital building rather than walking from far-off parking locations, and applying shade on baby carriers to protect from direct sun exposure.
In the sweltering heat of a Qatari summer, the expert tips from Dr. Gadha Mohiyiddeen can be a lifesaver for expectant mothers.
By staying hydrated, dressing appropriately, eating healthily, and adjusting their activity levels, pregnant women can ensure a safer, cooler, and more comfortable summer for themselves and their developing babies.