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Pregnancy is a time when your body goes into an overdrive. After fertilisation, chemical messages are sent to different parts of the body to prepare itself for the long road ahead. A demanding bladder, heartburn and constant breathlessness are just some of the side effects that one must deal with. Well, building a baby from scratch isn’t easy and your body makes sure you know that. One of the lesser known symptoms is a sudden feeling of incredible heat. When you wake up in a pool of sweat or feel as though you’ve suddenly been flung into a furnace, there’s a good chance you are experiencing a hot flash.
Are Hot Flashes Normal During Pregnancy?
Now some of you might be thinking, “How can hot flashes take place when I’m pregnant, isn’t it related to menopause?”. Well, you’re right, but it’s also one of the symptoms experienced during early pregnancy along with morning sickness and mood swings. In fact, some women even experience them after delivery. The hormonal imbalances in your body can kick-start the process. But fret not! You’re not alone. Its estimated that as many as a third of the women who get pregnant experience this.
What Do Hot Flashes Feel Like?
The main characteristic of a hot flash is when you suddenly feel a sharp rise in your temperature without any warning. Each episode is different and it’s difficult to predict how often you get it or its intensity. It can last for a few seconds or go on for a couple of minutes. It generally affects the upper body, mainly the head, neck and chest, although there are rare instances where it can affect the lower body as well.
Causes of Hot Flashes in Pregnant Women
The mechanics behind this phenomenon isn’t fully understood despite years of research. However, some of the main suspects include:
- Hormones: Fluctuations in the levels of estrogen is said to cause hot flashes.
- Increased Metabolism: As the body’s temperature increases due to metabolism, it can cause hot flashes.
- Dehydration: Poor water content in the body can throw the temperature control mechanisms in the body off balance.
- Overweight: Fat tissues create its own estrogen supply which can cause an imbalance in the hormonal levels of the body.
Apart from the sudden onset of heat, you may also experience some of the accompanying symptoms such as:
- Blurred Vision
- Palpitations of the heart
- Redness on the face and neck
- Subsequent cold chills
How to Know if You are Getting Hot Flashes or a Fever?
A fever during a pregnancy is often an indication of an underlying problem such as an infection. The biggest tell-tale sign that you have a fever is an increase in the body temperature. Another sign is that the heat of a hot flash will only be felt in a few localized areas of the body. This is not in the case of a fever where there is temperature rise all over the body.
When do Pregnancy Hot Flashes Stop?
Hot flashes are a symptom of pregnancy and just like the other symptom, it goes away on its own without any medical intervention. However, it is to be noted that there are many women who experience hot flashes during the breastfeeding phase later on as well.
How to Deal with Hot Flashes When Pregnant?
Due to its sudden onset without any warning, life can get a little unpredictable. Nevertheless, you needn’t be filled with dread as there are ways to manage and contain it such as:
- Cool Environment: To prevent the body from heating up, you can keep the environment cool by making the room well-ventilated and airy.
- Cold Water: Always be close to a bottle of water to cool yourself off when you have an episode.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture can help increase the production of endorphins which can help in regulating body temperature.
- Cold Cloth: When going through a serious bout of hot flashes, you can pour some cold water on a cloth and apply it. It is a form of temporary relief.
- Exercising: As contradictory as it may seem, many experts recommend exercise as it helps to regulate the body’s temperature.
- Yoga: Stress is often one of the biggest triggers and doing a calming activity like yoga will help relieve you from any sweaty episodes
- Diet: Foods that are rich in saturated fats and sugar are known to increase the chances of sudden sweating. This is most likely due to the blood sugar that gets affected between meals. Switching to a fruit-based diet with an increased intake of fibre is known to help the situation.
- Avoid Caffeine: Drinking coffee keeps many people on their toes along with helping to boost memory. However, it has also been known to trigger hot flashes, though its exact cause is still unknown. For those who have coffee regularly, even cutting down on some caffeine can be helpful.
- Stay Away From Carbs: Carbs, notorious for their ability to make a person put on weight, is also known to increase body temperature.
- Clothing: Clothing can make a huge difference in regulating your body temperature. Make sure that you wear loose clothes so that there is proper circulation of air and your body can breather. Another neat trick is the concept of layering. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take off a layer of clothing when you felt hot and put it back on once the hot flash has passed?
- The Cool Kit: If you’re on the go and you end up getting all sweaty, wouldn’t it be great if you could find a way to get some respite? Make sure you carry a wet wipe, a small spray bottle and a cloth whenever you’re out. They’re small enough to be held in your bag and do a great job in helping to manage a hot flash.
- Cooling Off: You can take multiple showers during the day as it not only keeps you clean but helps cool the body. However, avoid hot showers as they can raise the body temperature and increase your chances of spontaneous sweating. You can also join the local swimming pool to cool off.
- Oral Rehydration System (ORS): Fluids are your best friend during this time. Continuous bouts of hot flashes can lead to dehydration and an ORS can save the day. There are numerous ORS brands that sell sachets small enough to be carried in your purse.
When to Consult Your Doctor?
Hot flashes are never a medical emergency and rarely require medical intervention. It can, however, be exhausting and dehydration can take place. If you have excessive episodes of hot flashes where it may be an indicator of an underlying medical condition and a visit to the doctor is recommended.
1. Does Hot Flashes Specify The Gender Of Baby?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that it can help in determining the sex of the baby.
2. Does Hot Flashes Causes Headache?
Hot flashes in early pregnancy and headaches go hand in hand. While there may be cases where hot flashes cause headaches, they can also happen due to a surge in the hormone levels.
3. Will Hot Flash Affect My Baby?
The feeling of heat takes place when the blood vessels dilate in a bid to cool itself. It does not increase the temperature of the uterus.
4. Is Hot Flash An Early Sign Of Pregnancy Before Missed Period?
However, this can only be a sign if it is seen conjunction with other early pregnancy signs like sore breasts and morning sickness.
Hot flashes are just one of the many ordeals that you must go through during your pregnancy. While the sudden unpleasant experiences of feeling like an oven will linger around, However, it is not life threating and will soon go away just like some of the other unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy.