Many women experience hot flashes during pregnancy, resulting in sweating, faster heart rate, and flushing of the face and neck. One of the main causes of this condition is the change in hormone levels, as both estrogen and progesterone levels increase during pregnancy. In addition, the core temperature of a pregnant woman is typically higher than usual, sometimes causing flashes of heat that tend to be most common during the second and third trimesters. Of course, stress and the increase of blood volume are also factors.
One of the most well-known causes of hot flashes is the increase of certain hormones. Progesterone usually increases at the beginning of pregnancy, allowing ligaments and joints to loosen up over time so that the body can make room for the expanding uterus and prepare for labor. Estrogen also increases so that it can regulate progesterone levels, and also help the fetus continue to grow. While such hormones are crucial in a healthy pregnancy, they often lead to both mood swings and hot flashes.
Another change in the body during pregnancy is an increased core body temperature. This also makes a woman more susceptible to dehydration, which means that extra fluids are required. Of course, pregnant women who decide to exercise are especially at risk for hot flashes since they may easily become overheated and dehydrated. This is especially true when any amount of weight is gained, making hot flashes particularly common toward the end of the pregnancy.
The constant changes in the body often create stress for pregnant women, causing the body to release both epinephrine and norepinephrine into the blood. This action increases the heart rate and blood flow while constricting blood vessels. Combined with the fact that the blood volume is already increased during pregnancy, it should come as no surprise that the body may overheat more easily.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to avoid suffering from hot flashes during pregnancy. Exercise can help treat hot flashes, but pregnant women who decide to work out should be sure to stay hydrated and cool, wearing breathable clothing and avoiding exercising in direct sunlight. Many women find that hot flashes disturb their sleep at night, but they can usually avoid this issue by keeping their room cool and sleeping in breathable pajamas. Avoiding stress when possible is another way to get through the uncomfortable experience.