Table Of Contents:
- What Does A Hot Flash Feel Like
- Are Hot Flashes Normal During Pregnancy
- What Causes Hot Flashes During Pregnancy
- What Are The Symptoms Of Hot Flashes
- Ways To Deal With Pregnancy Hot Flashes
- When To See A Doctor
- What Experts Say
Did you know that about 35% women report hot flashes during pregnancy, and 29% women experience them after delivery? Though hot flashes are typical symptoms of menopause, over one-third pregnant women experience them during pregnancy and postpartum (1), and this can be annoying. But what are hot flashes anyway and what causes them? Are there any ways of preventing them? MomJunction helps you find answers to all your worries, here!
What Does A Hot Flash Feel Like?
Hot flashes are the heat originating from the neck and head, and spreading down to the chest, lasting for about 30 seconds to five minutes. In some cases, the heat generates from the lower body. You will perspire as your body tries to cool down after a sudden flash.
Are Hot Flashes Normal During Pregnancy?
Yes, it is normal to have hot flashes during pregnancy. They usually occur in the first and second trimesters at night (2). In some cases, they continue after delivery as your body produces milk for breastfeeding. The fluctuating hormones increase the blood flow to your skin surface, making you feel warm and flushed. The surging blood raises the skin temperature, especially in your chest area, neck, and head, giving them a red and blotchy look.
[ Read: Overheating During Pregnancy ]
What Causes Hot Flashes During Pregnancy?
The precise reasons for hot flashes are not yet known, but, studies have identified certain factors that could trigger hot flashes during pregnancy.
1. Hormonal action:
Hormonal fluctuations (primarily estrogen) are common during pregnancy. This stimulates the brain to release more epinephrine and norepinephrine in the blood stream, which results in increased blood flow to the skin, causing increased heat sensation in the body (1).
Fluid levels regulate body temperature. Inadequate water in the body will increase the temperature and make you feel hot (3).
3. Rise in body temperature:
The metabolic rate increases during pregnancy and this results in body heat, thereby resulting in hot flashes. Your body recognizes that it has to take care of two lives, and increases its regular activity leading to increased body temperature (4).
The extra weight you gain during pregnancy dispels its heat making the body warm, and results in hot flashes (5).
Some other risk factors that increase the chances of getting hot flashes include:
- Unbalanced meals
- Irregular sleeping routine
- Anxiety, stress, and anger
- Higher BMI before pregnancy
- Low blood sugar levels
What Are The Symptoms Of Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes are associated with the following symptoms, which should be reported to the doctor immediately.
- Heat spreads through your body and the face
- Several short bouts of heat
- The feeling can 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 heart beat
- A red face
- Sweating (6)
[ Read: Sweating During Pregnancy ]
Ways To Deal With Pregnancy Hot Flashes:
Unjali Malhotra, Women’s health specialist at Cross Roads Obstetrics and Gynecology, 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 more flashes as the fat tissues produce estrogen.
So, here are a few handy tips to manage the heat episodes (7):
- Sleep in a cool place: sureKeep your bedroom cool so that you are comfortable if you experience hot flashes at midnight. You could open the windows or run a fan or air-conditioner to have a cooler environment.
- Keep away from the sun: Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, so that it covers both the face and shoulders. Do not sunbathe, and stay away from beaches and sunny areas.
- Stay hydrated: Carry a bottle of water everywhere you go, to stay hydrated. Nutrient rich herbal teas are also a good choice.
- Regulate your diet: Include balanced diet of healthy foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, whole grains, and proteins including eggs, lean meat, and cheese. Do not have long gaps between meals or snacks.
- Choose a healthy lifestyle: Avoid hot, spicy, and processed foods rich in sugars or fats. Also, avoid drinking anything that has alcohol or caffeine. Quit smoking. These are the worst triggers of hot flashes.
- Cooling kits: Keep things such as wet wipes, mini fan, or spray bottle filled with water, handy all the time so that you can deal with the flashes wherever you go. Wipe your face with wet wipes or cloth, to bring down the temperature.
- Breathing exercises: When you experience a hot flash, do not panic. Instead, try to breathe normally and do meditation or yoga to control your breath. You could also go for short walks.
- Wear loose clothes: Wear loose and easy breathing clothes, such as tank tops and shorts that you can take off easily when you feel hot. Choose clothes made of natural fibers, such as cotton or linen, as they allow proper air circulation. Do not use synthetic materials such as polyester.
- Healthy weight: Maintain a healthy weight by exercising regularly while being cautious. The hot flashes reduce by almost 33% if the body weight is under control (8). The Journal of Nurse-Midwifery in a 2010 study concluded that women who indulged in regular exercises had fewer events of hot flashes (9).
- Alternative treatments: If you are unable to control hot flashes through breathing or keeping the body hydrated. Then consider alternative treatments after consulting your doctor. You could have soy and flaxseeds, acupuncture treatment, or take blood pressure medications, antidepressants or mild sedatives.
Natasha Turner, author of The Hormone Diet, recommends stable blood sugar levels and hormone stabilizing supplements such as fish oil and vitamin D to keep flashes under control.
- Avoid crowds: Crowded and congested areas could trigger hot flashes as the temperatures here are higher than normal. Crowds may also make you panicky, triggering hot flashes. Crowded areas are unsafe as it could lead to a stampede. Remember, anxiety levels must be low and stressful situations must be avoided.
- Frequent showers and swimming: Have some extra showers in a day to keep your body fresh and cool. If you are comfortable, go for a swim as spending some time in the water will uplift your mood and help your body cool down.
When To See A Doctor?
Hot flashes do not last long but may leave you uncomfortable, dehydrated, or exhausted. They will completely subside with a good rest. But if the problem persists, it might be a sign of an underlying cause, and you must get it checked by a doctor.
Over-the-counter drugs may work, but must be taken only after the medical practitioner recommends them. Do not follow the herbal remedies you find on the internet. Your doctor should approve them before you try them.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Are hot flashes an early sign of pregnancy before a missed period?
Hot flashes are one of the first pregnancy symptoms that you will experience from the time you conceive. In some women, hot flashes and abdominal cramping occur during implantation, around eight to ten days after ovulation.
Hot flashes accompanied by severe fatigue, nausea and morning sickness, sore breasts, heightened sense of smell, insomnia, dizziness, lower back pain, and aversion to smells, could be a clear sign of pregnancy.
But if you do not see other pregnancy symptoms, then hot flashes could indicate something else (10).
2. Do hot flashes specify the gender of the baby growing in your womb?
Hot flashes do not indicate the baby’s gender. It is just an old wives’ tale that says that if you feel hot and sweaty, you could have a baby girl.
3. 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 a trouble for the mother but do not harm the child in any way.
4. Do hot flashes cause headaches during pregnancy?
The hormonal surge and additional blood circulation during pregnancy are believed to cause headaches. Other symptoms such as hot flashes, pregnancy fatigue, nausea, emotional stress, and increased hunger also contribute to the headaches or aggravation of existing one.
5. How long do hot flashes last after pregnancy?
Hot flashes do not disappear immediately after delivery butlast for a few months postpartum until the hormones go back to their regular levels and enough milk is produced to breastfeed the newborn (11).
[ Read: Fever During Pregnancy ]
Staying hydrated, eating and resting well, and maintaining your weight will help you stay away from hot flashes. Though hot flashes aren’t a dangerous condition, they do tell you to slow down and take care of yourself, and they will go away as soon they came.
Have an experience to share about hot flashes during early pregnancy? Let us know in the comments section below.
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