What Triggers Hot Flashes During Pregnancy?
Your heart rate has risen. You’re flushed and sweating and feel the heat rise in your face. There’s nothing worse than that sticky, itchy feeling that comes with a hormonal hot flash. Menopausal and pregnant women alike can relate. Many women are left wondering what is happening to their bodies. It may bring you some peace of mind to know what is causing this symptom in your body. Knowledge is power and may help you feel a little calmer when the hot flash hits you out of the blue. So what’s happening in your body and what triggers hot flashes during pregnancy? We’ve compiled a list of a few natural causes below.
- Spike in estrogen and progesterone: Throughout pregnancy, the increase in estrogen and progesterone is the primary culprit for hot flashes. Similar to that of a menopausal woman, the increase of these hormones and quick drop can cause the moments of overheating and sweating you’ve perhaps come to dread. The body actually is mimicking the symptoms that occur during menopause, both scientifically and symptomatically. Unfortunately, while menopausal women can be great candidates for hormone therapy that seeks to rebalance and restore a woman’s hormones going haywire, pregnant women aren’t able to participate in these treatment options as receiving hormones can negatively impact the baby.
- The baby’s heat: The term bun in the oven may feel super relevant to you throughout your pregnancy. It’s important to note that the baby itself releases heat as it grows and changes, so you do in fact have an internal heater inside of you.
- Body growth: The uterus expands dramatically throughout pregnancy, starting originally as the size of a pear and expanding to be the size that can hold your baby. It’s important to remember that your body changes dramatically throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Many women experience their chest enlarging as well. As the breasts swell in anticipation of being filled with milk, this shift and growth within the body lead to a woman’s metabolism increasing, at some point needing close to 500 extra calories a day just to accommodate the shift. This strain that occurs due to growth can lead to increased body heat.
- External Triggers: Hot flashes pregnancy triggers are important to avoid. Although you may not be able to control when your hot flashes come on, there are things you can seek to steer clear of in order to avoid the onset. Avoid hot temperatures, super tight clothing, hot drinks, stressful situations, and spicy food.
- Weight Gain: Weirdly enough, weight gain can also be a contributing factor to hot flashes. During pregnancy, weight gain is perfectly normal and to be expected. Due to an increase in body max index or BMI, the body is more susceptible to a flash of heat.
- Blood volume: Did you know that in the course of your pregnancy your body’s blood volume will increase by 45%? Additionally, your red blood cell count increases by 40%. This is necessary to make sure the baby has all the nutrition and oxygen it needs. Blood vessels will reflect this shift, and lead to the skin being glowy or flushed. It is only natural that this change to your cardiac system would raise your metabolism and therefore increase your body’s temperature from time to time.
Hot flashes being out of your control can sometimes feel overwhelming or discouraging, but there are things you can do to continue to take care of yourself in this time. Stay hydrated at all times, and stay clear of the kitchen on hotter days. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and have your family or loved ones cook for you. Try to choose your workout spots to be in spaces that are open-air, and not in closed, warm rooms. The more airflow you have while exercising, the better.
Try and avoid night sweats, by not getting too warm in bed. It’s common to want to feel bundled up before going to sleep, but choosing lighter-weight blankets and pajamas and keeping the fan on is the better call. Use cool water to your advantage, and try and splash your face or soak your feet in cooler water on hotter days. Avoid trapping heat in, and choose a flowy or loose-fitting clothing option.
Additionally, try to eat food that spikes your body temperature such as carb-rich meals, caffeine, and spicy meals. Instead opt for cooler food options such as salad greens, cherries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and smoothies! Hot flashes may continue into postpartum due to hormonal shifts that happen with breastfeeding, but be encouraged that they will not last forever, and your natural body temperature will return to normal soon! You’ve got this mama!
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