Pregnant in France during summertime? Read these safety tips as the summer heat can be dangerous for women pregnant in France.
The summer heat can be potentially dangerous for women pregnant in France, so it’s important that all mums to keep themselves out of the sun as much as possible and drink lots of water, says Dr Monique Rainford.
“I have always had a low tolerance for the cold and prefer warmer temperatures. All that changed during my first pregnancy in France. I turned the office air conditioning down to a low setting and had a fan on at every opportunity. The heat was almost unbearable,” says Dr Rainford.
This heat intolerance is true for many women pregnant since, in general, they have a reduced tolerance to heat. When summer is here, most people would agree that it is very hot. Dr Rainford can certainly empathise with the discomfort of women who are pregnant during the summer months.
However, prolonged exposure to high temperatures can lead to more than just discomfort and potentially land you in an emergency French clinic. It can lead to a serious condition known as hyperthermia, which occurs if someone’s body temperature becomes higher than its normal level. If you’re having a baby in France, here are some tips to stay safe in the summertime and enjoy your pregnancy in France.
Pregnancy in France and hyperthermia
Hyperthermia is different from a fever in that a fever is a controlled rise in body temperature usually as a protective response to different factors such as infection. In hyperthermia there is an uncontrolled rise in the body’s temperature, which may be due to impairment in the body’s temperature regulation system or its cooling system.
Unfortunately, there are risks to the developing baby if a woman pregnant in France, or anywhere, has this condition. If she develops hyperthermia early during her pregnancy in France, her baby is more likely to have a birth defect, especially neural tube defects, which are abnormalities involving the baby’s spine and/or brain. Later in the pregnancy the condition can raise her risk of preterm labour (labour before the pregnancy has reached full term). If you feel any associated symptoms, you should visit a French clinic immediately.
Fortunately, a pregnant woman’s risk of developing hyperthermia is low. Nevertheless, the higher temperatures of summer can lead to other conditions. A recent study done in Israel showed that the rate of oligohydramnios (see below) was higher for pregnant women in the summer months as compared to the other months of the year.
Water: an essential part of French pregnancy diet
Oligohydramnios is a condition in which the volume of amniotic fluid surrounding the developing baby is lower than normal. It has been associated with a higher risk a foetal distress and an increased risk of a pregnant woman having a caesarean delivery.
So what can women pregnant in France do to avoid some of these possible complications?
She should keep well hydrated by drinking several glasses of water daily, at least 10. She can employ the use of fans or air conditioning where possible to keep cooler. She should wear cool clothes such as those made with cotton material in light colours that reflect the sunlight.
Soaking in the sun, in moderation
Women pregnant in France should also avoid direct sunlight as much as possible; use a large rimmed hat or an umbrella in situations where shade is not readily available. She should avoid being outdoors at the hottest times of day; use sunscreen to protect her skin as sunlight exposure can worsen pregnancy – induced darkening of the skin.
Finally, swimming is not only a safe exercise for most women in pregnancy, but it is a fun way to keep cool in these hot summer months.
Is pregnancy alcohol acceptable?
During the summer, it is tempting to cool down and unwind with a glass of wine or some alcohol. There have been varying stances on whether wine for pregnant women is advisable. Some recent studies found that pregnancy wine could decrease the stress of expectant mothers and even lead to having children who are better adjusted emotionally and behaviourally.
However, the French public health department has strongly cautioned against pregnancy wine or pregnancy alcohol for any woman pregnant in France. According to them, it is unknown how much alcohol consumption is deemed safe during pregnancy, thus it is better to avoid any pregnancy alcohol than risk your unborn child developing syndrome d’alcoolisation fœtale (SAF or fetal alcohol syndrome).
Although advice differs, some doctors believe it is better to abstain from pregnancy wine or pregnancy alcohol drinking altogether.
Visiting a French clinic or Paris clinic during pregnancy complications
In you experience any complications while pregnant in France, make sure to keep the number of the nearest Paris clinic or French clinic handy. Women pregnant in Paris or around France can see Expatica’s list of major hospitals and clinics in Paris and around France and read our guide on how to find a French doctor. Make sure you also save this list of emergency numbers in France and support helplines.
Click to go to the top of this guide to pregnancy in France.
Monique Rainford / KidsinMadrid / Expatica
Dr Monique Rainford is a consulting obstetrician and gynaecologist.