The Best Ways to Handle Hot Flashes During Pregnancy

Pregnancy
Pregnancy

So, you or a loved one is currently experiencing hot flashes during pregnancy. You may be concerned about what this means and how to deal with it. Do not worry however because at its core it is just your hormones acting up. Hot flashes are completely normal during pregnancy. These hot spells are a common symptom pregnant women face as their bodies change and grow. Did you know that more than one third of women experience hot flashes while pregnant? You are not alone and there are plenty of natural remedies to handle these hot spells!

Let’s discuss more about what hot flashes are in case you have not experienced them before. Hot flashes commonly affect these parts of the body: head, neck, and chest. The good news is that they typically do not last long. Hot flashes can last from a few seconds to a few minutes and while they can be uncomfortable they quickly wash over your body. So how do you know you are having a hot flash? Well your body will be taken over with a sudden warmth seemingly out of nowhere. Your skin may turn pink or red and you will most likely start to sweat even if you have not done any physical activity. The hot flash will quickly seize and once it is over you may feel cold. This is because of the sudden change in your body temperature.

So what causes you to kick off your sheets in the middle of the night or having to fan yourself while doing your laundry?The main reason that pregnant women experience hot flashes is due to hormonal changes. There can be sudden change of estrogen and progesterone hormone levels throughout pregnancy. What happens is a pregnant woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels increase and are released throughout different points of pregnancy. These changes mimic menopausal sympthoms. These hormone levels quickly decrease after birth. Be aware that you may still experience hot flashes after you give birth. There is a higher chance of this happening if you choose to breastfeed.

Another reason pregnant women experience hot flashes is because of the necessary increase of blood flow needed throughout the body. There is a reason why pregnant women experience hot flashes later on in theri pregnancy.By the third trimester, a woman’s total blood volume has increased by about 45% above prepregnancy levels.Her red blood cell production could be up to 40% greater.  Plus, her heart rate increases at this point of pregnancy.

The change to the cardiac system and the changes in blood volume can also contribute to changes to a pregnant woman’s metabolism. An increased metabolism can further lead to an increase in body temperature. Pregnant women see an increase in blood volume because it is necessary in the process to deliver oxygen and nutrition to the growing baby. This process can affect the woman’s blood vessels which are closer to the surface of her skin. This process is what causes the skin to flush giving the name the pregnancy glow.

Once again all of these changes are completely normal and are expected during pregnancy. One study conducted in 2013 discovered that hot flashes peak at 30 weeks of pregnancy but were reported throughout pregnancy by some women. After delivery, hot flashes continued to increase for 2 weeks and then declined as the hormone levels returned to normal pre-pregnancy state. It also found that a total of 35% of women experienced hot flashes during pregnancy and 29% of women reported hot flashes after delivery.

So what can you do to combat these hot spells safely during your pregnancy? The only ways to treat hot flashes are through natural remedies. There is no medication available for dealing with hot flashes. The number one thing you can do is do things that will prevent you from overheating. Little lifestyle changes can make all of the difference.

It is always good to be prepared throughout the day in case you experience hot flashes. The number one recommended way to handle hot flashes is actually very basic. Everyday simply dress with layers. This way if you get hot either in public or in the comfort of your own home all you have to do is shed one layer at a time until you reach a comfortable temperature. Once the hot flash is over you can simply put the layers back on. Similarly, you can wear clothes that are made with breathable fabric. It is recommended that you wear shirts made of linen or cotton. However, you can also wear athletic clothing designed specifically as sweat wicking. These pieces are typically made with polyester blends.

At nighttime it is recommended that you wear thin clothing to sleep so you do not overheat while you are sleeping. You can also add a fan to your room and place it on your side of the bed. If you wake up with a hot flash in the middle of the night, make sure you have some ice water on your bedside table to help refresh you! You can also open up a window in your bedroom to allow a natural breeze to flow through your room.

Hot flashes are completely normal and with a few little changes you can deal with them quickly and restore your body to a comfortable temperature with ease.

READ MORE: Tips on preventing holiday migraines this year

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