During pregnancy, you'll see several changes and developments in your body, and experience many ups and downs. One condition you are likely to experience is the development of hot flashes, also known as hot flushes. These are usually linked with the menopause, but around 10% of pregnant women also experience hot flashes in early pregnancy.
What Do Hot Flashes Feel Like?
During a hot flash, a strong heat sensation will radiate out from your head and neck to the entire upper body. This typically lasts anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
As with other pregnancy symptoms, different women experience hot flashes early pregnancy in different ways, for example, at varying frequencies, intensities, and durations. Some women feel the heat spreading from the lower body instead of the upper body. During a hot flash, you may also experience excessive sweating, palpitations, and flushes over your face, neck, and chest.
However, you need to be aware of the difference between a hot flash and a fever. Fevers, usually indicative of infection, raise your body temperature, which hot flashes in early pregnancy don't. If you are concerned you may have a fever, take your body temperature, and if it is above the normal range, see a health professional as soon as possible.
Hot Flashes: Early Pregnancy Sign?
Hot flashes are often one of the first early pregnancy symptoms, and you can experience them right from conception. However, they are definitely not the most common early pregnancy characteristic and shouldn't be taken as a certain sign of pregnancy, particularly if they are your only symptom. You will need to check for other indications of early pregnancy, including:
- Swollen and tender breasts. Your breasts may feel tight, tingly, and sore. This is because of increases in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels, preparing your breasts for breastfeeding. To ease the pain, ensure you wear a well-fitting bra.
- Severe fatigue. You may have severe tiredness, comparable with that from flu. During pregnancy, you need lots of relaxation, so take time for rest and naps. You'll also benefit by going to bed early and cutting back your schedule.
- Heightened sense of smell. Pregnancy hormones sharpen your sense of smell, particularly in the very beginning. This can cause morning sickness. Try carrying around a tissue with a few drops of aromatherapy oil to sniff whenever you smell something unpleasant.
- Lots of trips to the bathroom. Human chorionic hormone (hCG) secreted during pregnancy boosts blood flow to kidneys, causing increased water loss through urine. Furthermore, your uterus is already starting to grow, which puts extra pressure on your bladder.
- Insomnia. Many pregnant women have trouble sleeping, particularly if they've woken up in the night-time. This can be partially due to increased urination and hot flashes in early pregnancy.
- Restless leg syndrome. You may also feel as though you can't keep your legs still when you're trying to sleep. This is restless leg syndrome, and a quarter of pregnant women suffer from this.
- Morning sickness. Want to know "Are hot flashes early pregnancy symptoms for sure?" Well, it is not sure. The most commonly known early symptoms of all is morning sickness. It usually develops in the first few weeks of pregnancy. However, it can happen any time of day – not just morning. Again, hormones are to blame.
- Dizziness. You may also experience dizzy feelings and light-headedness. This is due to changes in blood circulation during pregnancy. To prevent yourself fainting, eat regularly and avoid standing up for too long.
- Lower back pain. Changes in hormone levels loosen muscles. When combined with weight gain in pregnancy, this can cause backache. Pregnancy often brings pain around the spine (lumbar pain) or in the bottom and thighs (posterior pelvic pain).
In the following video, a mom has talked about her experiences of early pregnancy symptoms which may help you a lot.
What Causes Hot Flashes During Early Pregnancy?
Pregnancy-related hot flashes are completely normal, with over half of pregnant women affected. They commonly occur in the first and second trimesters and happen about once a week.
Unfortunately, the exact cause of hot flashes in early pregnancy has not been found. Some scientists have suggested that they may be due to the effect of oscillating hormone levels on your brain. After conception, estrogen levels decrease markedly, which can increase stress. This stimulates the synthesis and secretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine from the brain into the blood. These hormones may result in bodily heat sensations.
How to Deal With Hot Flashes During Pregnancy
Although you may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable with hot flashes in early pregnancy, bear in mind that in the majority of cases, they are harmless to your baby or you and you won't need any medical treatment. However, you can take the following measures to keep yourself feeling cool and comfortable:
- Wear loose clothing in layers, and then you can remove them one by one if you feel hot.
- Stick to clothes made from natural fibers (e.g. linen and cotton). These allow increased air circulation over the skin.
- To aid sleep, ensure your bedroom is at a nice cool temperature. To make sure your room doesn't heat up in the day, keep the curtains closed to prevent the sun coming in.
- Fill a spray bottle with water, and use this to regularly spritz your face for refreshment. Alternatively, you can carry a sandalwood or mini electric fan in your bag.
- You can also freshen up at work using disposable wipes.
- Fat tissue contains estrogen, so if you're overweight, try to lose those extra pounds.
- Some women find acupuncture helpful, but speak to your doctor before trying this treatment.
- Take as many showers as you need to freshen up.