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Are Hot Flashes Normal During Pregnancy?

Feeling the heat? Here’s how to get relief from this pesky pregnancy symptom.
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Published December 13, 2023
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Even people who tend to run cold report feeling warmer than usual during pregnancy. But if you find yourself suddenly tempted to stick your head in the fridge, you might be wondering: Can you get hot flashes during pregnancy?

While hot flashes are commonly linked to menopause, experts say they can and do happen during pregnancy as well. But what causes hot flashes in pregnancy—and how can you get some sweet, cooling relief? Below, experts break down the facts and share tips.

Are Hot Flashes a Sign of Pregnancy?

The surest sign of pregnancy is a positive pregnancy test, but it might not be what initially tips you off. There are plenty of signs of pregnancy that may potentially clue you in. And hot flashes in early pregnancy might just be a symptom that has your brain reeling. “Hot flashes can absolutely be a sign of pregnancy,” says Christine Greves, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando. That said, in most instances, they’re not going to be the thing that tips you off. “Hot flashes will not likely be a first sign of pregnancy, but certainly can be noticed in the first trimester as physical and hormonal changes are already happening,” says Julie Lamppa, APRN, a certified nurse midwife and director of midwifery services at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

What Causes Hot Flashes During Pregnancy?

There are a few different things that could be causing your pregnancy hot flashes. One is, of course, hormonal changes. “Similar to menopause, there are fluctuations in hormonal levels in pregnancy—your hormones go up and down,” Greves says.

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At the same time, you’re dealing with increased blood flow, adds Lamppa. The amount of blood in your body increases by as much as 50 percent when you’re pregnant—and that can make you feel hot.

“Along with that, your metabolic rate has gone up, which makes you have heat surges,” says Greves. Weight gain in pregnancy, which is expected, can also make you feel warmer than usual.

When Do Hot Flashes Start During Pregnancy?

You may find yourself experiencing hot flashes as early as the first trimester, Lamppa says. In fact, you may have hot flashes with implantation, notes Greves. That said, hot flashes are more common later in your pregnancy. “Usually, they’re more prevalent in the second and third trimesters,” Greves says. “You might be feeling warmer in those later trimesters.”

How to Get Relief From Pregnancy Hot Flashes

It may feel like your internal temperature has been cranked up, but there are a few things you can do to get relief from hot flashes during pregnancy.

  • Dress comfortably. “Wear layered, loose-fitting clothes that can easily be removed if needed,” suggests Lamppa.
  • Adjust the thermostat. You may want to lower your thermostat at home or turn on the air conditioner as needed. If you work in an office or other members of your household aren’t okay with colder indoor air, you can also try using fans. “Desk fans are a great option for the office environment,” Lamppa says.
  • Carry a fan in your bag. “Keep something in your purse or bag that can be used as a hand fan if you need something quickly,” Lamppa says.
  • Drink something cold. Drinking cold water or another refreshing drink is likely to help as well. Staying hydrated can also lower your risk of feeling overheated, Greves says. (Try carrying an insulated bottle of ice water around with you in your bag for quick and easy access.)
  • Stay cool at night. You may want to consider sleeping with a lighter blanket on your bed than usual.

When to Talk to Your Doctor About Pregnancy Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are common in pregnancy, but they can also be a sign that something else is going on with your health. “There are conditions, like hyperthyroidism, for example, which can cause excessive sweating or heat intolerance,” Lamppa says. Feeling hot can also be a sign of an infection, especially if you have a fever, Greves points out.

This symptom is most likely related to pregnancy changes, but if you are concerned, reach out to your provider.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

Sources

Christine Greves, MD, is a board-certified ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando. She earned her medical degree from the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

Julie Lamppa, APRN, is a certified nurse midwife and director of midwifery services at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She is also the co-author of Obstetricks: Mayo Clinic tips and tricks for pregnancy, birth and more.

Learn how we ensure the accuracy of our content through our editorial and medical review process.

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