Why Am I Always Hot During Pregnancy?

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Most of us expect to be uncomfortable at times during pregnancy. Morning sickness, swollen ankles, and backaches are to be expected. But what you might not expect is just how overheated you’ll feel while you’re pregnant.

For many of us, the “pregnancy glow” goes beyond a flushed face. Pregnant people often have moments where they are overcome with waves of heat. Some people even experience hot flashes during pregnancy. All of this can be especially uncomfortable if you are pregnant during the summer months, or if you live in a warm climate.

You can blame the overheated feelings on the intense physical, metabolic, and hormonal changes that happen to your body during pregnancy. Let’s explore those bodily changes in more detail, and look at what pregnancy-safe options there are for cooling off, and whether being hot during pregnancy can ever be dangerous for you or your baby.

What Makes You Feel Hot During Pregnancy?

If you are constantly feeling hot during pregnancy, you are not alone. The struggle is real! It’s common for pregnant people to feel hotter than usual, and to become easily overheated. This is due to the physical changes that happen in your body during pregnancy.

Gestating a baby causes significant changes in your hormones, metabolism, and even your blood volume. According to Dr. Heather Johnson, OB/GYN at Advantia Health, pregnant people actually have a higher body temperature (called basal body temperature) than non-pregnant people.

"Pregnant women’s bodies are working harder, creating more heat to dispel, even when they’re sitting still," says Dr. Johnson. Here’s what to know about the bodily changes that contribute to that "I’m so hot!" feeling.

Increased Blood Volume

One of the physical changes that causes you to feel extra hot during pregnancy is the dramatic increase in your blood volume, says Dr. Mitchell Kramer, an OB/GYN and department chairman of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Huntington Hospital in New York.

Your blood volume increases by up to 50%, says Dr. Kramer. This increase can cause your superficial blood vessels to dilate as well, contributing to the feeling of heat on your skin. All of these changes are needed to support your baby and your pregnancy, Dr. Kramer assures.

Increased Metabolic Rate

Metabolic changes occur in your body during pregnancy as well, explains Felice Gersh, M.D., OB/GYN and founder/director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, in Irvine, CA.

Think about it: when you are gestating a baby, you have an increased need for calories, and your body is doing the work of sharing your nutrition and calories with your baby. As such, your metabolism increases during pregnancy. This increased energy production can cause you to experience more intense heat sensations, says Dr. Gersh.

Pregnancy Weight Gain

Most pregnant people gain about 25-35 pounds during pregnancy. This is normal and healthy, but the added weight gain can contribute to your feeling of being overheated.

"Pregnant women carry an extra five to 30 pounds of extra weight, [which includes] the fetus, placenta, enlarged uterus and breasts, and excess fat, as well as up to two units of extra red blood cells to nourish the additional load and make up for loss at delivery," explains Dr. Johnson. Between that, and your elevated basal body temperature, it's understandable that you would become easily overheated.

Because of the increased danger of overheating during pregnancy, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommends you take it easy while you exercise: avoid heat and humidity, wear loose-fitting clothing, and make sure you stay well hydrated.

How to Cool Off During Pregnancy

If you are pregnant during the summertime, you will likely spend a lot of time with your feet up, planted in front of the A/C. And you should feel no shame in doing so!

Besides staying out of the heat and spending as much time as possible in cooler environments, there are lots of ways you can keep cool during pregnancy, even if you're pregnant during the summer or live in a hotter climate. You should definitely take advantage of them!

Expert-Approved Ideas to Help You Cool Down

Dr. Kramer, Dr. Gersh, and Dr. Johnson shared their favorite tips for keeping cool during pregnancy:

  • Stay in air conditioning when possible
  • Fans are also great options for circulating cooler air
  • Stay hydrated and sip cold beverages
  • Wear cool, loose-fitting clothing
  • Take a cool bath or shower
  • Try a cold sponge bath
  • Go to the pool when possible
  • Use an iced towel compress
  • Stay in the shade when outside
  • Try to avoid being out during the hottest time of day (usually mid-day)

When Is Overheating a Concern?

Usually overheating is just generally uncomfortable for pregnant people and doesn’t pose health risks to you or developing baby. But sometimes overheating can become a problem, and it’s important to be aware of when those instances might be.

For example, you can become lightheaded because of the heat, and even faint. “Fainting and falling can result in significant injuries,” Dr. Gersh explains.

Becoming overheated can also lead to heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and dehydration, all of which can be dangerous for pregnant people and their babies, says. Dr. Kramer. Watch for symptoms like warm, clammy skin, feeling lightheaded, rapid heartbeat, and nausea.

Dr. Johnson warns that overheating can sometimes cause premature contractions. "After the twentieth week, when the placenta receives a significant amount of blood flow, an overheated body can start diverting resources from the placenta and, therefore, the fetus, which can cause contractions," she explains.

If you are experienced contractions after being overheated, Dr. Johnson advises that you stop what you're doing, rest, and hydrate. If the contractions persist, contact a healthcare provider.

Activities to Avoid

There are certain activities that are more likely to make a pregnant person feel overheated, says Dr. Kramer, and these are best avoided.

First and foremost, stay out of hot, humid weather whenever possible. Long, hot showers are a “no.” Hot drinks are probably best avoided when you are feeling warm. Pregnant people can get overheated when they stand on their feet for long periods of time, especially in warm environments. Hot kitchens or barbeque grills can make pregnant people especially overheated.

Dr. Kramer also advises that pregnant people avoid hot tubs and jacuzzis, a recommendation shared by ACOG as well. In general, you want to stay away from activities that substantially increase your body heat. The CDC recommends that pregnant people avoid any activities that cause their body temperature to exceed 102.2 degrees.

When Should You See a Healthcare Provider?

Excessive heat can cause pregnant people to develop concerning symptoms like rapid heartbeat, headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness, and nausea, explains Dr. Gersh. Taking steps to cool off should help resolve these symptoms. But if these symptoms persist, especially if you continue to feel very hot or ill, you should seek prompt medical care, Dr. Gersh advises.

"Any pregnant woman with abnormal heart rates, fainting, a fall, a severe headache, disorientation, or spiking fevers must seek emergency medical care immediately,” Dr. Gersh emphasizes. This should be done regardless of heat. Some of these symptoms can be signs of serious pregnancy conditions like pre-eclampsia, so it’s important that you address them.

A Word from Verywell

Who knew that pregnancy could be such a burning hot experience? Pregnant people will attest that being hot during pregnancy is definitely a thing—a thing that can be very irritating and uncomfortable. If you are feeling overheated frequently, you might need to make some lifestyle changes, like staying out of the heat, staying off your feet when it’s hot, keeping cold drinks with you while you’re out and about, and making sure to dress in light clothing.

Usually making a few changes is all it takes to make the heat of pregnancy a more manageable experience. But if you find that these changes aren’t helping enough, or if you are experiencing other concerning symptoms—like increased heart rate, feeling dizzy, having intense headaches, feeling disoriented—you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare provider.

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