If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably already realized that your body is capable of playing all kinds of mischievous tricks on you. Perhaps you’ve been battling morning sickness, or your skin has broken out and resembles a photo of yourself from eighth grade, or maybe it has you waking up three or four or even five times during the night to use the bathroom. There are all kinds of surprises in store for pregnant women. One not to be overlooked is the dreaded hot flash.
Hot Flashes: Not Just for Menopause
We’ve all heard about hot flashes – those uncomfortable episodes that leave middle-aged women flushed and sweating as they navigate menopause. Well, here’s a little tidbit: they can happen during pregnancy, too. The reason they accompany so many of us during our pregnancies is due to fluctuating hormonal levels. Just like menopause, pregnancy wreaks havoc with our hormones. As our bodies try to balance and regulate these changing levels, we experience the side-effects of that regulation.
Facts About Hot Flashes
- Hot flashes are a normal by-product of pregnancy.
- 1 in 3 women will experience hot flashes at some point during their pregnancy.
- There is a 5X increase in hot flashes for pregnant women as opposed to non-pregnant women.
- Changing hormone levels increase blood flow that results in “flushing” or a feeling of a flash of heat that comes over us.
- Hot flashes can also result in red, splotchy skin usually in the neck, chest and shoulder areas.
- Hot flashes often last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.
- While some women report hot flashes in the first trimester, they are most common in the second and third trimesters.
- 90% of women report a continuance of hot flashes after delivery, especially in breastfeeding mothers, as their bodies continue to regulate fluctuating hormonal levels.
While hot flashes are basically unavoidable, there are a few things you can do to ease their discomfort.
Ways to Make Yourself More Comfortable During A Hot Flash
- Dress in thin layers that can be removed as needed.
- Wear natural fibers such as cotton, linen, and wool. Synthetics retain heat and can even make you itchy.
- Keep your bedroom temperature cool at night while you’re sleeping.
- Keep a spray bottle of water (perhaps with a squirt of lemon) in your refrigerator and mist your face with the chilled water when you feel a flash coming on.
- Stay hydrated.
- Employ deep breathing exercises to help control your blood pressure and regulate your body temperature.
- Lower your stress levels.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Decrease your carbohydrate intake – carbs increase your body temperature.
- Eat clean, healthy food frequently to maintain blood sugar levels.
While hot flashes are almost always harmless and don’t require immediate medical attention, it’s still a good idea to report them to your doctor to rule out any possible underlying conditions. In addition, if you think the extra heat you’re feeling may be a fever and not a hot flash, check in with your doctor as soon as possible. In the likely event that what you’re experiencing is just your regular, run-of-the-mill hot flash, then try some of the suggestions listed above to make yourself as comfortable as possible and look on the bright side – they’re quick, relatively painless, and they, too, will pass.