Why do I feel cold in pregnancy?
Most women feel warmer than usual during pregnancy. This is because of hormone changes and increased blood supply to the skin.
Some women feel colder than usual in pregnancy. This does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with you or your baby’s health. It may just be that your body is going into overdrive while it tries to cool down.
But there some conditions that may leave you feeling cold that do need treatment. So, if you are feeling chilly, the best thing to do is talk to your midwife (or your GP if you haven’t met your midwife yet).
An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) is where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. It may be difficult to spot the symptoms of hypothyroidism because some of them, such as constipation and tiredness, can be similar to pregnancy symptoms.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- being sensitive to cold
- weight gain
- slow movements and thoughts
- muscle aches and weakness
- muscle cramps
- dry and scaly skin
- brittle hair and nails
- lack of sex drive
- pain, numbness and a tingling sensation in the hand and fingers.
It’s important to treat an underactive thyroid straight away. This is because it can cause complications in pregnancy, such as:
- an underactive thyroid in the baby
- birth defects
- bleeding after birth
- problems with the baby's physical and mental development
- premature birth or a low birthweight
- stillbirth or miscarriage.
This sounds frightening, but these problems can usually be avoided with treatment. An underactive thyroid is diagnosed by doing a blood test to measure your hormone levels.
Your normal body temperature is around 37 degrees Celsius. A fever is usually when your body temperature is 37.8 degrees Celsius or more. A fever can make you feel warm, but can also make you make you feel cold or shivery.
A high temperature could be a sign of a hidden bacterial infection, or a virus, such as the flu. This could be harmful to your baby, so it is important to get it checked out.
If your temperature is above 37.8 degrees Celsius, even with no other flu or cold symptoms, call your midwife, doctor or hospital maternity unit.
Anaemia is a blood condition that develops when you don’t have enough red blood cells. Red blood cells contain haemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen around your body and to your baby. Anaemia can be common in pregnancy and symptoms can include cold hands and feet.
Symptoms can also include:
- tiredness and lack of energy
- shortness of breath
- feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations)
- pale skin.
You should have a blood test to check for anaemia at your booking appointment and when you are 28 weeks pregnant. If you are pregnant with more than 1 baby, you will also have a blood test at 20–24 weeks. But you can ask your GP or midwife for a test at any time if you are having symptoms.
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone feels anxious sometimes, but some people find it hard to control their worries. Some people with anxiety also have panic attacks, which can be very frightening.
Panic attacks can come on very quickly and for no apparent reason. Symptoms can include:
- a racing heartbeat
- a feeling of dread or fear of dying
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- feeling faint
- shaky limbs
- a churning stomach.
Most panic attacks last for between 5 and 20 minutes. They can be very frightening, but they are not dangerous.
It’s important to tell your midwife or GP if you are feeling anxious, so they can help you get the support you need. They will not judge you for these feelings – anxiety in pregnancy is very common. More than 1 in 10 pregnant women have it. Do not feel like you are a failure because you feel like you are not coping.
Call your midwife
Remember, if you are feeling colder than usual it is unlikely to mean that there is anything wrong with you or your baby’s health. But if you have any concerns the best thing to do – always – is to call your midwife.
Your Healthy Pregnancy Tool
This tool is designed to help you find personalised tips and ideas to improve your health and wellbeing during pregnancy.
NHS Choices. Common health problems in pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/common-pregnancy-problems/ (Page last reviewed: 01/02/2018 Next review due: 01/02/2021)
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/underactive-thyroid-hypothyroidism/ (Page last reviewed: 27/04/2018 Next review due: 27/04/2021)
NHS Blood and Transplant. Anaemia http://www.dgft.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/anaemia.pdf (Page last reviewed: 10/10/16 Next review due: 10/10/19)
NHS Choices. Generalised anxiety disorder in adults. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/generalised-anxiety-disorder/ (Page last reviewed: 01/02/2016. Next review due: 01/02/2019)
NHS Choices Panic Disorder https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/panic-disorder/ (Page last reviewed: 15/08/2017. Next review due: 15/08/2020)
Howard L et al. (2018) Accuracy of the Whooley questions and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale in identifying depression and other mental disorders in early pregnancy. The British Journal of Psychiatry.