Every one of my pregnancies was plagued with hot flashes. My first time around I swore the heat was associated with being extremely pregnant in the summer, but my second child was born in January and I suffered the same hot flashes. By my third pregnancy, with twins, I was uncomfortable for the last few months; constantly sweating and feeling like someone was holding a blow torch to my skin. A recent study on menopause hot flashes suggests an alternative breathing style to reduce the heat. The same breathing method is well worth a try for pregnant women suffering those dreaded flashes.
The science of deep breathing
The study claims deep, rhythmic breathing from the diaphragm signals the central sympathetic system to calm down. When that system calms down so does body temperature meaning you have fewer hot flashes? Practicing deep breathing is not a reactive choice – it is a proactive solution to reduce intensity and frequency.
How does deep breathing work?
Women in the study listened to a CD while taking just six long, deep breaths per minute for 15 minutes twice a day. Think of it as meditation breathing with long, slow, controlled, deep breaths. After 15 minutes of deep breathing, you go about your day as usual. Later in the day, you sit quietly for an additional 15 minutes again. The study results revealed a 52% reduction in hot flashes for women in the active arm of the study.
Remember, this study is about women in menopause. There are tons of physical factors that contribute to increased body heat in pregnancy, but deep breathing comes with additional benefits all pregnant women need like stress relief and time alone. Take a little time for yourself twice a day, even if you aren’t suffering from pregnancy hot flashes. Deep breathing exercises calm the mind, heart, and the central sympathetic system. All three may need attention.
Source: Sood, Richa MD, Sood, Amit MD, Wolf, Sherry L. RN, MS, Linquist, Breanna M. RN, Liu, Heshan MS, Sloan, Jeff A. Ph.D., Satele, Daniel V. BA, Loprinzi, Charles L. MD, Barton, Debra L. RN, Ph.D. Paced Breathing Compared With Usual Breathing for Hot Flashes. Menopause. 2013;20(2):179-184.