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B.C. heat wave: Okanagan midwife urges pregnant ‘more vulnerable’ women to take precautions

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WATCH: Tens of millions of people are still trying endure the extreme heat wave smoldering much of western North America that's breaking dozens of heat records. – Jun 28, 2021

An Okanagan midwife is encouraging pregnant women to take extra precautions to protect themselves amid B.C.’s extreme heat wave.

Tiffany Holdsworth-Taylor, a midwife at Willow Community Midwives who is currently on maternity leave, said pregnant people are at higher risk during scorching temperatures.

“Pregnant women are more vulnerable to the heat wave. The pregnant body core temperature is slightly higher in pregnancy and pregnant people are more prone to heatstroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration — all of which are going to have an effect on a pregnancy,” she told Global News.

Read more: Rise in heat-related deaths and calls in B.C. strains emergency services

Holdsworth-Taylor urged expectant mothers to avoid direct heat as best they can, as temperatures surpassed a whopping 40 C in the Okanagan.

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“Stay inside. If you don’t have [air conditioning], consider going to a public place that does — like the mall or a restaurant — and stay well hydrated,” she said.
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“Pregnant people are more prone to dehydration. Keeping those fluids up can be really crucial.”

Holdsworth-Taylor encourages employers to accommodate pregnant staff who usually work outdoors.

“I would be concerned about health in this kind of heat for a pregnant person working outdoors,” she said. “Dehydration can lead to increased contractions, increased risk of pre-term labour, dizziness, fainting and heat exhaustion.”

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Read more: Western Canada’s extreme heat wave: Some experts have ‘never seen’ anything like it

Dr. Janet Lyons, senior medical director at BC Women’s Hospital, said pregnant women tend to have low blood pressure.

“With the extra heat, blood goes to the skin, it takes blood pressure away from the brain and the heart and makes it more likely to get things like headaches, dizziness, potentially even fainting,” she said.

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Lyons said expectant mothers are more prone to heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

“They have an extra person inside and it’s double the work to try and cool their bodies down so they are much more likely to get those heat-related illnesses as well,” she said.

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“Pregnant women need to work even harder to stay hydrated, and, to put themselves in situations that are less risky.”

Holdsworth-Taylor also said newborn babies cannot regulate their core body temperatures through sweating. She encouraged parents to keep their young children in a cool, air-conditioned space.

Read more: What is it like to live in the hottest place in Canada?

B.C.’s historic heat wave has been deadly. In Burnaby alone, more than 25 people have died in the last 24 hours, with many of the deaths believed to be heat-related.

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Residents are reporting being placed on hold when calling 911 and waiting hours for an ambulance to show up.

On Saturday, B.C. set a new record for the most number of ambulance dispatches ever at 1,850.

E-Comm 911 operators say they’ve never seen this level of call volumes before, and the organization put out a video saying they had more than 8,000 calls on June 26 and more than 7,300 calls on June 27. That is more than 55 per cent above historical June numbers.

Cooler temperatures are expected over most of B.C. Wednesday and into the rest of the week as the “heat dome” finally bursts.

–With files form Amy Judd

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Paramedics scramble to meet demand amid B.C. heat wave – Jun 29, 2021

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