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Pregnancy is a time when a woman’s body goes into overdrive. A woman may feel exhausted, lightheaded, faint, or even hot during pregnancy. While feeling exhausted or lightheaded is common during pregnancy, hot flashes are not and may leave you worried. Although hot flashes are commonly associated with menopause, women may experience them during pregnancy too. If you wake up in a pool of sweat or feel, chances are that you might be experiencing hot flashes.
Are Hot Flashes Normal During Pregnancy?
Hot flashes can be experienced along with morning sickness and mood swings in the first trimester during pregnancy; however, the chances of experiencing them in early pregnancy (i.e., in the first month) are less. Hormonal changes and other bodily changes can trigger hot flashes and they occur frequently late in pregnancy and increase even more after delivery. It is estimated that as many as a third of the women who get pregnant experience hot flashes.
What Do Hot Flashes Feel Like?
If you suddenly feel a sharp rise in your temperature without any warning, it could be because of hot flashes. Each episode of hot flashes is different and it’s difficult to predict its intensity or how often you will experience it. Hot flashes 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, but there are rare instances of experiencing hot flashes in the lower body.
Causes of Hot Flashes During Pregnancy
The mechanics behind this phenomenon isn’t fully understood despite years of research. However, some of the main causes of hot flashes during pregnancy are mentioned below –
- Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in the levels of estrogen can cause hot flashes during pregnancy.
- An increase in 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.
- Being 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 other symptoms such as:
- Blurred vision
- Palpitations of the heart
- Redness on the face and neck
- Subsequent cold chills
Difference Between Hot Flashes and Fever
A fever during pregnancy is often an indication of an underlying problem such as an infection. The tell-tale sign of a fever is an increase in body temperature. However, when you have hot flashes, you will feel heat only in a few localized areas of the body. In case of a fever, there will be a rise in overall body temperature.
When Will the Hot Flashes Stop?
Hot flashes are a symptom of pregnancy and are just like the other symptom, and should pass 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 While Pregnant
Due to its sudden onset without any warning, your pregnancy journey can get a little unpredictable. Nevertheless, you don’t need to dread as there are ways to manage such as –
- Rest in a Cool Environment: To prevent your body from heating up or to manage hot flashes, ensure that you keep your home environment cool. Make sure that the rooms are well-ventilated and airy. While resting, make sure you sleep with windows open, so that there is fresh air circulates in the room, and you don’t feel suffocated or humid.
- Drink Cold Water: You can even drink cold water or chilled water if you experience hot flashes. If you have repeated episodes of hot flashes, keep a bottle of water near you and keep sipping it.
- Try Acupuncture: Acupuncture can help increase the production of endorphins which can help in regulating body temperature. However, try acupuncture only after checking with a doctor.
- Try Cold Compress: When going through a serious bout of hot flashes, take a clean piece of cloth and dip it in a bowl of cold water. Then wring out the excess water and keep the cloth on the body parts where you experience hot flashes. This shall provide temporary relief.
- Exercise: As contradictory as it may seem, many experts recommend exercise as it helps to regulate the body’s temperature.
- Practice Yoga: Stress can sometimes be the cause of hot flashes, but doing a calming activity like yoga can provide you relief from any sweaty episodes.
- Make Dietary Changes: 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: If your day starts with a big steaming cup of coffee, obviously giving up on coffee will be difficult for you, but you should try because coffee is known to trigger hot flashes during pregnancy. If it’s hard to give up, cutting down on some caffeine can be helpful.
- Avoid Carbs: Carb-rich food can lead to weight gain, which can increase your body temperature. So, consult your doctor and avoid including foods that are rich in carbohydrates.
- Wear Loose and Comfy Clothes: Clothing can make a huge difference in regulating your body temperature. So make sure that you wear loose clothes so that there is proper air circulation and that your body can breathe. Another neat trick is the concept of layering. And you could take off a layer of clothing when you felt hot and put it back on once the episodes of hot flash pass.
- Take a Bath: You can take a bath or shower 2-3 times a day if you experience hot flashes. as it not only keeps you clean but helps cool the body. However, avoid hot showers as they can raise body temperature and increase your chances of spontaneous sweating.
- Try Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS): Fluids will prove to be your best friend during pregnancy. If you experience continuous bouts of hot flashes, you may feel dehydrated, which is why you should drink ORS. It will not only keep you hydrated but also keep you energetic. You can also keep sipping water throughout the day.
When to Consult a Doctor
Hot flashes are never a medical emergency and rarely require medical intervention. However, sometimes, if you experience them often, you will feel exhausted and dehydrated. Consult a doctor in such a case. Frequent episodes of hot flashes can also an indicator of an underlying medical condition, so it is suggested that you visit a doctor if you experience them too often.
1. Can Hot Flashes Help One Determine the Gender of the Baby?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that hot flashes help in determining the sex of the baby.
2. Can Hot Flashes Cause 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. Can Hot Flashes Affect Your Baby’s Health?
You may feel the heat when the blood vessels dilate to cool themselves. However, the temperature of the uterus will not increase.
4. Are Hot Flashes an Early Sign of Pregnancy?
No, experiencing hot flashes alone is not a sign of pregnancy and you may not experience them before you miss your periods. But hot flashes can be a sign of pregnancy, if they are accompanied by other pregnancy symptoms such as tender breasts and morning sickness.
Hot flashes are just one of the many ordeals that you may have to go through during pregnancy. Yes, you will feel the heat and stressed, but the episodes of hot flashes won’t last for long. This symptom will pass just like other unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy. However, if you experience hot flashes often, consult a doctor and get yourself checked.