Feeling Cold During Pregnancy: Is It Normal?

Like most women, I’m sure you’ve studied up on what symptoms await you in your first trimester of pregnancy, but there’s one symptom all too common that gets left off of most lists on the internet. That symptom is the reason you’re here.

Are you constantly cold without any knowledge of why? Have you been trying everything you can do to feel warm without much working? Though feeling cold during the first trimester of pregnancy is common, it’s still an area of concern, since it’s one of the first indicators of many problems and complications associated with pregnancy.

Better safe than sorry, right? Best to learn all of the reasons you might be feeling cold during your pregnancy, so you’ll known what’s normal, what isn’t, and how you’re able to protect yourself and your baby from further problems.

Is This Normal?

You might be worried that feeling unusually cold during pregnancy means something bad is going on and your baby’s health might be at risk.

After all, we know that most women tend to feel warmer than usual during pregnancy because of all the excess heat being produced by the body – not the other way around.

With that being said, it’s perfectly normal for you to feel colder than usual at different times throughout your pregnancy, and this should not be a reason for you to panic before getting to know what’s going on first.

If it’s only happening once in a while, you can probably disregard it as just one of the many ways your body’s coping with all the changes that happen during pregnancy.

If you notice it’s happening too often and that you’re constantly feeling cold, though, then scheduling an appointment with your OB/GYN for a checkup is a good idea. For all you know, you could have a case of Hypothyroidism that can be diagnosed by running just a simple blood test(1).

What “Cold Feeling” Doesn’t Mean

When we say “cold feeling” we aren’t talking about developing a common cold or the flu.

Though chills are surely a symptom of the flu, we aren’t discussing sickness at all.

We’re discussing what you can do if you find yourself unable to get warm during the first trimester of your pregnancy.

If your wool socks and blankets aren’t warming you up, there’s probably something off.

How Can I Tell The Difference From Having An Actual Cold?

Feeling chills in different parts of your body is one thing, but actually having a cold is a whole different story.

If at any point you feel any of the following symptoms, then chances are you actually have a cold, and aren’t just feeling unusually chilly.

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • High temperature (higher than 37.5 ℃)

If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor so they let you know what medication you need to take.

Normal Reasons For Feeling Cold During Pregnancy

Don’t jump all the way to worst case scenarios just yet. There are a handful of things that could be causing your chills that most pregnant women have experienced at one time or another.

1) High Basal Body Temperature

From the time of conception up until 16 weeks gestation, your body temperature will be on the rise due to progesterone and estrogen overload(2).

As a result, the temperature surrounding you will feel significantly cooler, giving you cold chills.

Around week 16, the placenta is where it needs to be in development to carry your baby to term, so your body will stop working so hard and will begin relaxing. When it does, your body temperature will regulate back to normal.

2) Morning Sickness

Throwing up causes loss of appetite (understandably).

If you wake up and experience heavy morning sickness, then cold chills can be expected. When your body doesn’t get the calories it needs, your body temperature lowers.

So, if you can’t keep anything down and as a result can’t warm up, keep these things in mind:

  • Make sure you’re staying well hydrated
  • Make sure you’re only eating a little at a time
  • Get creative with ginger (since it’s a nausea stopper)
  • If all else fails, consider medication to stop your nausea

3) Nutritional Issues

While pregnant, you should be maintaining a diet packed with vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and proteins.

If you aren’t, this could be one of (or even the sole reason) for your cold feelings that won’t go away.

Think of it as fuel to a fire. If the gas control valve to your furnace isn’t getting enough spark, you won’t get enough gas flow to the burner trays and your house won’t heat as it should.

4) Poor Blood Flow

During the early stages of a pregnancy when your body is going through all sorts of adjustments to accommodate the arriving baby, and even throughout your pregnancy all the way to the later stages, you’re likely to experience poor blood circulation at different times for many different reasons.

When not enough blood is getting to certain parts of your body because of poor circulation, you end up feeling colder than usual, especially in your hands and feet.

When To Be Concerned

If it’s none of these common reasons, it could mean that there’s something a bit more concerning at play. However, don’t fret just yet – all of these causes can be treated.

1) Anemia

Anemia is a serious health concern during pregnancy(3).

It means that your iron is low and your red blood cells aren’t adequately carrying oxygen though your body.

Oxygen deprivation slows down your metabolism, which causes that “cold feeling.” Most importantly, oxygen is needed to develop your growing fetus.

Thankfully, if you find out you have a deficiency, it’s as easy as taking iron pills.

Note: If you end up taking an iron supplement, you should also find a good probiotic, since iron pills almost always cause constipation. Also, consult with your doctor first before taking any supplement for purposes of treating anemia. Your doctor will always guide you on the best course of treatment.

2) Weight Loss

Of course it’s understandable that you’d want to stay in shape throughout your pregnancy – however, if you don’t gain the necessary pounds to support your growing fetus, the regulation of your body temperature won’t be normal and you’ll start to feel cold.

When fat storage gets chipped away, the fuel to burn it diminishes and with it comes a lack of energy and lower body temperature.

Besides, pregnancy is really not the time for you to focus on losing weight, because there’s a certain limit that when you go under, you’ll be putting your baby’s health, development and well being at risk.

That’s not to say that you can feel free to gain all the weight you can while pregnant, eating way too many calories and becoming obese is obviously not the goal here either.

If facing weight problems, contact your obstetrician for help and further guidance.

3) Thyroid Problems

This is the most problematic of possibilities.

Your thyroid is a gland at the front base of your neck that produces a set of hormones (T3 and T4), which take in iodine and produce amino acids that in return, run your metabolism and increase your energy.

When the thyroid isn’t working right and the production of these amino acids are low, cold feelings and fatigue are a given.

Note: Thyroid problems are one of the most common causes of developmental problems in babies, developmental delays, below average IQ levels and miscarriages; so if you’re consistently cold, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.  

4) Infection

The last thing you want is an infection while pregnant.

Your body will do everything it can to attack the invaders and help you recover, sometimes at the expense of your unborn child.

Chest and kidney infections are some of the most common examples. Also common are urinary tract infections that your body will work hard to fight off.

As if infections aren’t bad in and of themselves, they come with a list of friends: nausea, shortness of breath, fever and chills(4).

If your body is trying to rid you of one, you will likely feel unusually cold until your infection is gone.

How Do I Stay Warm?

Trying to stay warm and cozy when starting to feel cold during pregnancy does not involve anything too different than what you would do outside the context of a pregnancy.

1) Wear Proper Clothing

Before doing anything else, wear clothes that make you feel warm – regardless of whether you’re inside the house or outside at the time.

Possibly the most important place to start from is your feet. Wear socks that keep your feet feeling warm and, as a result, cut off the cold feeling and prevent it from transferring to other parts of your body.

2) Heating

Make use of indoor heating and air conditioning and adjust the temperature to your liking.

3) Soup

Even though you aren’t actually down with the cold to be drinking soup, warm soup will still help you get rid of the chills.

Wrapping It Up

So, if you’re pregnant and constantly cold, mention it to your midwife or OBGYN during your next visit.

They will run the necessary tests that will diagnose you with one of the above causes and will get you feeling toasty again.

For the sake of your sanity, know that your baby is nice and cozy in your womb at all times. When you’re feeling cold, it doesn’t affect your child’s environment.

Your body is designed to let your organs freeze over before it will allow your baby to be harmed.

However, and if you’re feeling unusually cold due to a medical problem or health complication, there’s no telling whether or not any of that could put your baby’s well-being at risk and – as a result – affect your overall pregnancy.

References:

  1. The Thyroid and Pregnancy. http://thyroidawareness.com/the-thyroid-and-pregnancy.
  2. The Thermogenic Property of Progesterone. https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(16)30066-8/pdf.
  3. Anemia in Pregnancy. https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/anemia-in-pregnancy#1.
  4. Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy. https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/urinary-tract-infections-during-pregnancy/.

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Medically Reviewed By: Christine Traxler M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Christine Traxler M.D.

Christine Traxler MD is a retired family practice physician and graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine in 1986. She has worked with patients in rural Minnesota for two decades.

She has written several books on medical topics, and has extensive experience caring for women of childbearing age, women in pregnancy, and menopausal women.

As a writer and editor, she specializes in writing coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers, with a predominance of writing on general medical topics and premedical scientific topics.

She has more than a decade of experience in the writing field, having written books on dermatology, medical assisting, nursing, and pregnancy.

She has written thousands of articles for laypeople and professionals alike on a variety of medical subjects.

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