Is it normal to have hot flushes in pregnancy?

Hot flushes – or hot flashes – may be an annoying symptom of pregnancy, but are they normal. So how long will they last for?

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Hot flushes don’t discriminate

Hot flushes are super common. Not just in early pregnancy (yes, they’re one of those oh-for-goodness-sakes early pregnancy symptoms).

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We can all get the ‘hots’ – including celebs such as Celine Dion in his second pregnancy. “The first two months I really felt the symptoms, the morning sickness, hot flushes, nausea,” the 42-year-old told French magazine Paris Match.

Singer Lily Allen also experienced hot flushes during a cool July, tweeting “Does not feel like July at all, but that’s good cause I’m preggers and hating the heat.”

So when will the hot flushes stop?

This is a tricky one – as they can last anything from a few weeks to right through the whole pregnancy, and beyond.

“For some women the first 12 weeks can be very challenging on a day to day level, whereas others can breeze through it,” explains midwife Helen Taylor, of Midwife Care.

“Once the placenta is fully formed, it takes over maintenance of the pregnancy, and so the hormones settle down.

“For most women (but be warned, unfortunately not all!) they return to feeling normal around this time.”

Unfortunately, Emma was still experiencing hot flushes at 33 weeks pregnant: “I’m feeling very sicky, dizzy and having hot flashes.” (EmmaandAoifeBelle)

Lulu was already 1.5cm dilated and having contractions at 37 weeks, along with hot flushes: “Hot flashes really bad. There’s just so much going on.” (lulu1885)

Meanwhile, another MFMer, Lucy, suffered when seven months pregnant and working in hospital as a GP trainee: “Work was very warm and kept having hot flushes.” (Lucy)

And late on, hot flushes became particularly noticeable for another mum: “They come out of nowhere and my whole face goes almost purple and I feel a bit funny and have to sit down.” (TulipRose)

Hot flushes in summer AND winter

Although midwife Helen says that “the summer may present as more of a challenge with hotter weather than if you were early pregnant in the winter”, the cold weather doesn’t make any difference for some mums-to-be, as one MFMer found when six weeks pregnant in December. “Every night I’m so hot it feels like I’m in the Bahamas! Last night it was -4C and I was sweating so much I had to take a cold shower!”

Fellow MFMer Simone also struggled when pregnant with her daughter: “I was sooooo hot I had the windows open and the fan on at night time! Even the week before she was due, when the weather was colder I was boiling!” (Simone)

Can hot flushes affect the health of my baby?

Rest assured, despite the strange sensation of extreme heat coursing through your body for a few seconds or minutes, hot flashes will not harm your baby’s development.

“Hot flushes would not harm the baby at all,” reassures Helen.

Dealing with hot flushes

The NHS recognises that during pregnancy you’re likely to feel warmer and sweat more than usual due to hormonal changes and an increase in blood supply to the skin.

It recommends you:

  • Wear loose clothing made of natural fibres, as these are more absorbent and breathe more than synthetic fibres
  • Keep your room cool – you could use an electric fan to cool it down
  • Wash frequently to help you feel fresh

And Helen points out that some women can feel faint in a hot room or crowded train carriage in pregnancy, and a hot flush or surge may add to those symptoms.

“If this was a regular occurrence, then it would be sensible to perhaps plan your commute to work at less crowded times, so as to avoid that situation,” she advises.

Meanwhile, midwife Nikki Khan says: It’s important to say cool and drink plenty of fluids. Pregnancy hormones can contribute to the flushes you’ve been experiencing, however swollen feet can also be due to the heat and not resting enough. If the swelling is excessive, see you midwife and get your blood pressure and urine checked, too. There is a more serious condition called pre-eclampsia, the symptoms of which include swelling, as well as high blood pressure and protein in the urine. It’s a good idea to see your midwife anyway, just to make sure all is well.”

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