Pregnancy will take you on a wild hormone roller coaster. On top of mood swings, appetite changes and all of the other uncomfortable changes you’re experiencing, hot flashes may come along for the ride, too.
What causes hot flashes? What are the most common symptoms, and how can you cope with them?
Table of Contents
- What Causes Hot Flashes During Pregnancy?
- I’m In My First Trimester. Will I Experience Hot Flashes?
- Should I Be Concerned About Hot Flashes?
- What Do Hot Flashes Feel Like?
- 10 Ways to Deal with Hot Flashes during Pregnancy
What Causes Hot Flashes During Pregnancy?
Typically, hot flashes are associated with menopause, and the reason for this is fluctuations in hormone levels. The same thing happens when you’re pregnant. These fluctuations, particularly in estrogen levels, lead to surges of heat that can have you waking up in a sweat.
For pregnant women, these unpredictable flashes of heat usually affect the chest, neck and head. For some, the heat lasts just a few seconds. For others, episodes can trail on for several minutes.
I’m In My First Trimester. Will I Experience Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes don’t become an issue until the second and third trimesters. And the episodes aren’t likely to let up after the baby is born. Many women experience even more frequent episodes after their babies arrive.
Should I Be Concerned About Hot Flashes?
Hot flashes that come and go are nothing to be concerned about, doctors say. But it’s important to know the difference between a passing hot flash and a potentially dangerous fever.
Fevers actually elevate your body temperature. Hot flashes do not. A fever is often an indication of an infection, and high fevers can be potentially dangerous for your baby. If your temperature climbs to over 100 F, call your doctor immediately.
What Do Hot Flashes Feel Like?
Most women describe a hot flash as an intense sensation of heat spreading throughout the upper body, lasting anywhere from 20 seconds to five minutes. Symptoms usually start in the head or neck.
Just like any other pregnancy symptom, your experience may be slightly different than another woman’s. Your hot flashes may start lower in the body, and may be shorter or longer.
10 Ways to Deal with Hot Flashes during Pregnancy
Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to prevent hot flashes during your pregnancy. But there are ways to cope, so the sensation isn’t as uncomfortable, and there are steps you can take to minimize the chances of future hot flashes.
Here are 10 ways to cope with hot flashes when you’re pregnant:
1. Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing
Wearing tight clothing can make hot flashes worse and even more embarrassing than usual. Choose natural fibers, like cotton, whenever possible, as they’re more breathable than synthetic fabrics. This way, if a hot flash creeps up on you, your clothing won’t make the symptoms worse.
2. Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
The food you eat may play a role in preventing hot flashes, or making them worse. Eating a healthy diet will help you better maintain your blood-sugar balance, which can keep hot flashes at bay.
Cut back on carb-heavy foods, like pastries, bagels, muffins, pasta and bread, and aim for balanced meals with protein. Doctors also recommend eating every three to four hours to prevent blood sugar fluctuations, and avoiding caffeine and spicy foods.
3. Keep Your Bedroom Cool
Many pregnant women experience hot flashes at night, so keeping your bedroom cooler can help prevent the heat from being too hot to bear. Try running a fan or leaving a window open at night. Cooling gel pillows may also help prevent hot flashes, especially for women whose symptoms tend to start in the head or neck.
4. Layer Your Clothing
Layering your clothing can help make symptoms less uncomfortable, especially if you’re out in a public place when a hot flash comes on. Try wearing a cardigan over a tank top, so if things heat up, you can remove the cardigan and cool off in a tank top.
5. Invest in Two Sets of Blankets
Avoid fighting over the covers by investing in two sets of blankets. Make sure that your set is light and cool, so you stay comfortable at night without disturbing your partner.
6. Be Prepared with Cool-Down Tools
If you plan on being outdoors on a warm sunny day, don’t forget to pack a water mister on top of your other essentials, like sunscreen and sunglasses. Whenever you feel uncomfortably hot, use the mister to cool things down.
A mini battery-operated fan can also keep you cool while you’re on the go. Baby wipes can cool you off, too, while you’re out and about.
7. Harness the Power of Water
Water is one of the most effective cool-down tools out there. If you’re at home, try soaking your feet in an inflatable pool or a foot spa with cool water.
Some women can stop a hot flash by running their wrists under cool water, or using a cool, wet cloth on their forehead and neck.
If you have the time, taking extra showers can help keep you cool and feeling refreshed.
8. Don’t Panic
It’s easy to go into panic mode when a hot flash comes on. It’s uncomfortable, it’s embarrassing, and it can be alarming. Fight or flight kicks in, which can make the symptoms even worse.
If you feel a hot flash coming on, don’t panic. Focus on taking deep breaths, and allowing negative or fearful thoughts to float away. Giving into panic or anxiety will only make you feel even hotter and more uncomfortable.
Don’t worry – hot flashes won’t harm your baby, and they’re perfectly normal. Just relax and let the episode pass.
9. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Doctors say that women who are a healthy weight experience fewer hot flashes than women who are overweight. This is partly because fat tissue actually generates its own supply of estrogen, which can make hormone fluctuations even more extreme.
10. Stay Hydrated
Make sure that you’re drinking enough water each day, about two quarts. Staying hydrated will help prevent hot flashes and other issues caused by dehydration.
These simple tips can help prevent hot flashes or minimize their effects. Make sure that you speak to your doctor about your hot flashes to rule out thyroid or medical issues.