Hot, humid weather when you're heavily pregnant can be a miserable time. When it's sub-zero Christmas weather and you find out your baby is due in the warmer summer months, you feel joy at the prospect of sitting in the garden with your newborn asleep in the pram next to you. Roll on several months, and the novelty of being pregnant has worn off, you're so big you can't see your feet, you're craving all the foods you're not allowed, and worst of all, a heatwave arrives.
While everyone else is thrilled about the sunshine, you've never felt so uncomfortable in your life. When you're pregnant, your body temperature is already a little higher than normal, so in the summer heat, the challenge is really on for expectant mothers.
I spent part of a pregnancy in the Caribbean. The heat and humidity were extremely difficult to deal with but I learned quite a few tricks to help keep cool and fresh in those uncomfortable months.
1. Wear only natural fibre materials like cotton and linen. Your skin can breathe with these materials. Man-made material like nylon makes you sweat more and you'll find it harder to stay cool. Obviously loose fitting clothes are ideal and will help you stay cool and fresh. Wear light colours as they reflect the sun's rays. Dark colours absorb them and make you feel hotter.
2. Carry a small spritzer of water in your bag. You can use it to spray your face and neck with cool water, and top it up easily in a powder room.
3. Have a small battery powered fan in your bag too - using the fan immediately after using the water spray is a clever way to get an instant cool down.
4. Hats are always in fashion - so you can wear a wide brimmed cotton or straw hat and not only stay cool and shady but stylish too.
5. One of the most effective ways I found to cool down was to use a fridge cold flannel or ice cold water on my wrists. If you cool the veins on the back of your wrists you cool down the blood that flows around your body. The effect is almost instant.
6. During pregnancy your feet and legs can swell up from water retention. In hot weather this problem can increase. Your poor feet and ankles are coping with a lot of extra weight. It's important to lie down and elevate your feet a few times a day.
7. Use some mentholatum migraine ice patches. You can get them from your local chemist. They're soft gel patches for soothing headaches - but they also make great coolers for hot days because they instantly reduce skin temperature when applied.
8. Buy a portable air conditioning tower from a local DIY or homestore. They're not expensive and you can set them on a timer so they switch off after you've fallen asleep. In a hot room they are bliss.
9. Drink water little and often throughout the day. Keep a small bottle with you at all times to avoid becoming hydrated.
10. Don't sit in the sun. Heatstoke is awful enough when you're not pregnant. Stay in the shade.
11. You can also indulge in a cool water foot spa that you can set out yourself without any exertion or bending over, or even pop down to the local swimming baths and take the weight off your feet and cool down completely.
The most important thing is to stay focussed on the end result - a healthy, happy baby you can love and enjoy, whatever the weather forecast.