Pregnant women often experience a feeling of sudden warmth in their body which often results in sweating too. These are regarded as hot flashes and though usually connected with menopause; pregnant women can also experience this. Some of the usual symptoms of such hot flashes are a sensation of sudden intense heat affecting the upper body, accompanied with a flushing of the face, neck and chest; the heartbeat quickens by great leaps and the mother also experiences very heavy sweating. Such hot flashes are very common during pregnancy, especially in the second and the third trimester, and more so postpartum. The reasons for such hot flashes given below will explain why they are considered normal during pregnancy.
Reasons for hot flashes- pregnancy is a time when hormones are on a riot. And evidently, even hot flashes owe their existence to the fluctuations of the hormones in the mother’s body. During pregnancy, a woman’s core body temperature becomes higher than normal and hence the hormone levels start fluctuating. During this stage, particularly estrogen in the mother’s body decreases which again leads to increased blood flow in the body due to release of epinephrine hormones in the body to combat the stress which low estrogen level gives. And increased blood flow singlehandedly increases the body temperature of the mother. As a result, hot flashes happen in an attempt to release this extra heat by the body.
Apart from hormonal fluctuations, during pregnancy the mother’s basal metabolic rate as well as core body temperature increases. This further encourages the appearance of hot flashes. Even intake of hot water and spicy foods and even the hot weather can induce hot flashes in the pregnant woman.
Handling hot flashes- now that we know that hot flashes are normal during pregnancy, ne also needs to know the basic steps in handling such flashes. Dealing with hot flashes is not so difficult. The most obvious ways are by turning on the fan or air cooler or taking cool baths or drinking cool water. These help to lessen the intensity of the hot flashes. The mother can also start wearing layer clothing so that she can take one layer off whenever she feels the flashes. A healthy lifestyle and eating the correct foods is also necessary. So that rules out the intake of spicy foods, too much of caffeine, smoking or alcohol. The mother should always stay in a cool environment. And it is helpful if the mother carries some sort of fluid with her all the time as a cool beverage will help comfort the body during such surges of hot flashes.
Points to remember-
• Though hot flashes are primarily due to hormone fluctuations, one should not go for treatments like hormone therapy or other herbs or medications as it is extremely harmful for the developing fetus.
• It is important not to confuse fevers with hot flashes as fevers denote more serious infections.