If you think hot flashes are typically associated with menopause, read this article to know that they happen during pregnancy as well. According to research findings, around 75% women experience hot flashes during early pregnancy, usually in the night.
The University of Pennsylvania conducted studies in 2010 and concluded that the hot flashes, also called hot flushes, are common in the first and second trimester of pregnancy.
Are Hot Flashes Normal During Pregnancy?
Hot flashes are a common occurrence during pregnancy. The good news is that hot flashes are temporary and will wither away once your baby is born. So, whether you do anything about it or not, these problems won’t be there for long.
Accept this as yet another part of pregnancy and you can take comfort in the fact that as soon as your little bundle of joy arrives, all this will be gone.
[ Read: Overheating During Pregnancy ]
What Does A Hot Flash Feel Like?
Originating from the neck and head, heat spreads to the whole upper body. The intense heat stays for 30 seconds to five minutes. The heat could also generate from the lower body and be longer or shorter in time.
Like any other pregnancy symptom, hot flashes are unique to each woman. The frequency and intensity of the flashes tend to vary from one another. It is also important to know the difference between a hot flash and fever. Hot flashes don’t elevate your body temperature, whereas fevers do.
What Are The Causes Of Hot Flashes During Pregnancy?
Doctors have not yet been able to ascertain the reasons behind hot flashes during early pregnancy but link them to the brain and the hormones.
When you get pregnant, estrogen levels drop steeply, thereby raising stress levels. It signals your brain to release more epinephrine and norepinephrine into the blood stream, resulting in increased blood flow to your skin. This makes the blood vessels in the skin of the head and neck to widen, making the parts hot and red. These changing hormonal levels may cause a sensation of intense heat in the body.
Another theory is that the rise in basal body temperature (BBT) during ovulation stays on until the fifth month of pregnancy, leading to hot flashes.
Other causes for hot flashes could be:
- Increase in metabolism during pregnancy
- Excess body weight
- Irregular schedules of eating and sleeping
- Anxiety, stress and anger
[ Read: Dehydration During Pregnancy ]
What Are The Symptoms Of Hot Flashes?
Hot flushes are bouts of heat sensations that you feel suddenly, usually in the upper body. Here are a few symptoms for you to recognize the condition.
- Heat spreads through your body and even the face
- You might have this feeling for short periods, but several times in a day
- The feeling can just be warm like sleeping on a sun bed, but sometimes intense like being near a furnace
- The flashes come suddenly, without a warning
- Rise in the heart beat
- A red face
When Should You Contact A Doctor?
Though it is normal to have hot flashes during pregnancy, you should make sure it is not a fever. Fever could imply an infection and may lead to serious complications. If you find something wrong within the body, you should consult your healthcare provider to diagnose the right cause.
[ Read: Fever During Pregnancy ]
What Can You Do To Deal With Hot Flashes?
Dealing with hot flashes may not be easy during pregnancy. Though you may feel heat sensations, your body will be cold. It is important to take care of your body to lower the complications. Here are a few tips to follow to make the episodes manageable:
- Sleep In A Cool Place: Make sure to sleep in a cool place so that you are comfortable if you experience hot flashes in the midnight.
- Protection From Sun: Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, so that it covers both the face and shoulders. Do not opt sunbathing.
- Keep Hydrated: Keep yourself hydrated by carrying a water bottle wherever you go. You can also consume cool drinks to lower the heat in the body.
- Regulate Your Diet: Avoid alcohol and caffeine drinks, and spicy foods. You should quit smoking as it can trigger hot flashes.
- Cooling Kits: Keep some items, such as baby wipes, mini fan or a spray bottle filled with water, handy all the time so that you can deal with the flashes wherever you go. Try cooling down your face by wiping with a wet cloth, or take a foot spa, or have extra showers.
- Breathing Exercises: When you experience a hot flash, do not panic. Breathe normally. You can also practice some meditation or yoga techniques to control your breath.
- Loose And Comfortable Clothing: Wear loose clothes that help you to undress quickly when you experience a hot flash. Wear cotton or other natural fabric materials for proper air circulation.
- Healthy Weight: Maintain a healthy weight. Try doing regular exercises because losing excess weight can decrease the frequency of hot flushes in pregnancy by nearly 33%.
- Alternative treatments: If you are not able to control hot flashes, you can consider some alternative treatments only after consulting your doctor. They can be herbal remedies like soy and flaxseed, acupuncture treatment, taking blood pressure medications, antidepressants or mild sedatives.
- Ice Packs: Try ice packs on your face and neck to alleviate the heat.
- Avoid Crowds: Crowded and congested areas could trigger hot flashes as the temperatures are usually higher than normal in such circumstances. Crowds may create panic within you, resulting in flashes. Crowded areas could lead to physical harm if people begin to jostle.
- Frequent Showers and Swimming: Have some extra showers in a day to keep your body cool. If you are comfortable, go for a swim, as spending some time in water will uplift your body as well as your mood!
What Experts Say:
While hot flashes can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, these are harmless, and you need not undergo any medical treatment for this. Here is what the experts have to say:
- Women’s health specialist Unjali Malhotra at the Cross Roads Obstetrics and Gynecology in Vancouver says that it is enough to exercise right, eat well and keep ice water ready to deal with the flashes. Those who are overweight tend to experience the flashes more as the fat tissues produce estrogen. “We try not to intervene more than we have to for the sake of a healthy pregnancy,” she adds.
- The Journal of Nurse-Midwifery in a 2010 study concluded that women who regularly exercised had fewer events of hot flashes.
- The author of The Hormone Diet Natasha Turner states it is important to maintain your blood sugar level and suggests hormone stabilizing supplements like fish oil and D vitamin. She stresses the need to keep anxiety levels low. Stressful situations invite hot flashes.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Here are a few FAQs related to hot flashes that pregnant women try to find answers.
1. Are Hot Flashes An Early Sign Of Pregnancy?
Hot flashes could surface in the initial weeks of pregnancy itself, but they need not always be a symptom of pregnancy. Hot flashes sometimes appear during premenstrual periods as well. You can suspect pregnancy if hot flashes are accompanied by other pregnancy symptoms, such as:
- Morning sickness
- Surge in emotions
- Vaginal discharge
- Inability to withstand certain smells
2. Do Hot Flashes Affect Your Baby?
The condition does not have any effect on your baby, as it is just another symptom of pregnancy. Like morning sickness, hot flashes are trouble for the mother during pregnancy but do not harm the child in any way.
3. Do Hot Flashes Signify A Boy?
Experiencing hot flashes does not imply that you are carrying a boy in your womb. The condition could be common if you are pregnant either with a boy or a girl. Flashes occur due to hormonal changes and do not indicate the gender of the baby.
4. How Long Do Hot Flashes Last After Pregnancy?
Hot flashes do not disappear immediately after your delivery. They last for a few months postpartum. You can expect hot flashes to go after your hormones settle down, and enough milk is generated to breastfeed your newborn.
According to a study, 29% women complained of hot flashes during night, after their pregnancy.
If the condition is due to some reason other than pregnancy, such as thyroid or cancer, consult the doctor immediately.
Did you experience hot flashes during pregnancy? Then share your comments here and tell other mommies about it.
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