Pregnancy is often a wonderful and exciting time in a woman’s life. It is incredible seeing what your body can do as it changes to accommodate the growing life inside of you. Babies are such miracles, and being a mom is such a gift. With that being said, there are also some unpleasant things that do occur during pregnancy. Unfortunately, life-giving is not just glowing and there are many symptoms a woman may experience such as hot flashes.
What are Hot Flashes?
Simply put, a hot flash is where you suddenly feel overwhelmingly warm. You may get sweaty, feel like you need to sit down, and may even feel like you will pass out. They are not pleasant, but they are common and completely normal. Hot flashes can occur all throughout pregnancy, only during the third trimester, and even after you deliver your baby.
What Causes Hot Flashes
There are so many physiological changes happening in a woman’s body as her baby is developing. These changes are what cause the hot flashes, and are responsible for that wonderful glow everyone talks about.
Hormones are responsible for most of your body’s functions. They are the body’s way of communicating to make certain things happen. When a woman is pregnant, her estrogen and progesterone fluctuate all throughout pregnancy and even after the baby is born. These fluctuations also mimic the changes that happen during menopause. You can expect to feel warmer, sweat more, and even have night sweats. Do not worry, once you have delivered your baby and your hormones level out, the hot flashes should subside.
A Growing Body
Everyone knows a woman’s body is going to grow and change to accommodate the baby. The uterus starts at the size of a pear and gradually grows to the size of a watermelon. As the baby grows, it also starts emitting heat becoming literally an internal heater. A woman can also expect her breasts to change and grow to prepare to produce milk. After delivery, one would expect to feel a little cooler with her internal heater on the outside, but holding your baby constantly can also make you feel very warm and you may need to hand the baby off to cool down a bit.
Increased Blood Volume
Did you know that when a woman is pregnant, by the third trimester her overall blood volume level is 45% higher compared to prepregnancy levels, and red blood cell production is up 40%? Her heart rate also increases in order to pump all the additional blood through her and her baby’s bodies. This increase in blood is responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to the baby. In addition, there is also more blood flowing to the skin, which can also contribute to the pregnancy hot flashes.
Not only will your body grow to sustain your pregnancy, a healthy pregnancy also requires some weight gain to sustain you and your baby. Depending on your prepregnancy weight, will determine how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy. If you are below the recommended BMI for your height and weight then you will need to gain more weight than a woman who is at a normal BMI, which is about twenty to thirty pounds. If you start your pregnancy overweight, you are only estimated to gain around fifteen to twenty pounds. If you, however, gain more or less weight than they say is required, do not fret. The body does what it needs to do when growing a person and you have the rest of your life to sort out your weight. That does not however give you a free pass to eat whatever you would like. You should aim to get in some low-impact exercise such as walking or swimming and maintain a well-balanced diet.
A person’s metabolism is the rate that their body digests their food. You can expect to have an increased appetite during and after pregnancy as your body demands more food to sustain your baby through pregnancy and then through breastfeeding if you choose that route. By the end of your third trimester, your body will require around 300 additional calories, which is comparable to a small chicken breast. When you are breastfeeding, your body requires around 500 additional calories to support milk production. Because your body is working so hard it can also be a cause of hot flashes.
Getting Some Relief
While the ultimate relief of hot flashes is delivering your baby and your hormones leveling out, there are still some things you can do to not get overheated during pregnancy.
Some things to avoid:
- Hot Drinks
- Spicy Food
- Tight Clothing
- Anxiety and Stress
- Warm Weather
How to Get Some Relief:
- Cold Beverages
- Drink plenty of water
- Wear loose, breathable clothing
- Consider getting a hand held fan or a personal fan in your house to sit in front of
- If you live in a warmer climate, try to go swimming or stay inside
- Eat cold snacks or meals
Following these guidelines will hopefully help make your hot flashes bearable.
Every woman’s body and pregnancy are different, and even subsequent pregnancies are different. Some women have very easy pregnancies and others face many challenges in getting their little ones earthside. Bottom line is that as beautiful as bringing life into the world is, it is very challenging. Give yourself a lot of grace and try to enjoy things like preparing for the baby, picking out names and clothes, and feeling those sweet little kicks. While it may feel like you will be pregnant forever, you will not. Soon your little one will be in your arms, and the discomforts of pregnancy will be a distant memory. Having to deal with these not-so-great parts of pregnancy is all worth it once we have our sweet babies.