Women's Healthcare Topics

I Wake Up at Night Drenched in Sweat. Is this Normal?

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Hot Flashes are Common in Late Pregnancy

Are you pregnant and experiencing hot flashes? Believe it or not, but hot flashes aren't just for menopausal women.

Just like the "pregnancy brain" and the frequent urination, having hot flashes are another pregnancy symptom that many women experience. They are part of the rollercoaster that is called pregnancy.

Hot flashes are common in the second and third trimesters, and they often contribute to insomnia and sleep disturbances in pregnancy. Pregnancy hot flashes can affect your head, neck, and chest. They may last from a few seconds to several minutes. You may be comfortable one minute, and the next you find yourself sweating, hot, and trying to reach the nearest fan. Some women experience hot flashes in the middle of the night; others are hot throughout their entire pregnancy (from first trimester until they have their baby).

Learn How to Cope with Pregnancy-Related Hot Flashes.

What Causes Hot Flashes in Pregnancy?

Hot flashes in pregnancy are the result of the hormonal fluctuations that occur when you're expecting, especially the drops in estrogen.

The reduction of estrogen levels is why you also experience hot flashes (or night sweats) when you are going through menopause. Lower levels of estrogen can disrupt function in your hypothalamus (the area of the brain that controls body temperature and other processes).

After your baby is born, you can also experience hot flashes. Postpartum hot flashes are common in breastfeeding mothers, since hormones stay low when you're nursing.

How to Cope with Pregnancy-Related Hot Flashes

Try not to worry– hot flashes are perfectly normal. You can cope by wearing layered clothes, so that when a hot flash strikes, you can shed your long-sleeves shirt and stay cool in the tank top underneath. If you have night sweats, make sure that you wear light clothing with breathable fabrics.

If you're at home, you might get some comfort by standing in front of an air vent. You can also sit in the car and turn on the air-conditioning as cold as it can go.

When you have a hot flash, sipping on a cold drink can also help cool you down.

Don't Confuse Hot Flashes with Fevers

When you're pregnant, it's important that you're able to distinguish the difference between a hot flash and a fever. Hot flashes will not raise your body temperature, but fevers do. Fever may be a sign of an infection, and a high fever can be dangerous to your pregnancy. Always call your healthcare provider if your temperature is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.


Doctor's Corner

Pregnancy Week by Week - Women's Healthcare Topics