Brrr! Why Do I Have Pregnancy Chills? (AKA Should I

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Oh, pregnancy… it’s a rollercoaster in myriad ways, most of which are driven by your raging hormones. One of those annoyingly unpredictable fluctuations? Your body temperature. For many of us, our pregnant bodies feel like a raging furnace — we could have fans pointed on us from every direction and still be sweating. So, if you have pregnancy chills, your first instinct might be to wonder if there’s a problem with your pregnancy. Rest assured, feeling cold while pregnant isn’t necessarily a red flag. We’re here to help you navigate those chills and know when to give your obstetrician a call.

Grab a blanket and snuggle up, Mama! Let’s dive right into the different types of pregnancy chills you might be experiencing, plus why you don’t have to panic about pregnancy loss.

Are cold chills a sign of miscarriage?

It’s totally natural to worry when you’re pregnant. If this is your first pregnancy or if you’ve had a previous miscarriage, it’s understandable that you might be extra on edge. However, there doesn’t appear to be any clinical connection between feeling cold and miscarrying. It’s possible that some women have experienced chills leading up to or during a miscarriage, but that’s anecdotal. Scientifically, there’s no clear indication the two are connected.

What causes chills during pregnancy?

There are several reasons a woman might have chills with no fever during pregnancy:

  • Hormones: Perhaps the most expected culprit here, your body’s surging hormone levels can wreak havoc on your temperature regulation. One minute you’re hot, the next you’re cold. Repeat roughly seven million times and — voila! — you’ve got a pregnancy. Plus, surging hormones contribute to morning sickness, which can make it nearly impossible for a mama to keep food down. Without food to convert to energy, the body may struggle to keep warm (thus, chills).
  • Low blood pressure: You probably spend so much time worrying about developing high blood pressure that you didn’t realize low blood pressure can affect you in pregnancy, too. If you have a reading of 90/60 or lower, your body will be working overtime to get enough blood pumped to tissues and organs. This may result in symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, a weak but fast pulse and, you guessed it, chills or clamminess. In this situation, it’s best to call your OB to discuss.
  • Anemia: You know how important red blood cells are, right? They carry oxygen throughout your body. Your body uses iron to make these cells, so clearly not having enough iron (and therefore red blood cells) isn’t desirable. Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to iron-deficiency anemia, which has hallmarks like cold hands and feet. Again, if you suspect you may be anemic, you’ll want to bring it to your doctor’s attention.
  • Thyroid condition: The thyroid, a small gland in the front of the neck, produces and maintains the hormone levels in the body. So, you can see how issues with that would be a problem in pregnancy, yeah? Hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, can lead to feelings of fatigue, depression, and cold/chills.
  • Fatigue: Did you know that your body needs adequate sleep to effectively regulate body temperature? It’s true, which can be tricky in pregnancy. There are times (many of them) when you just can’t seem to get comfortable — not to mention all those middle of the night trips to the bathroom to pee or, if your nausea isn’t just relegated to the morning, puke.

If your chills are accompanied by a fever, it might indicate an infection. Examples may include:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Kidney infection
  • Influenza
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Gastrointestinal virus

Pregnancy chills accompanied by fever could also signal more serious medical conditions that affect only pregnant women, such as preeclampsia or chorioamnionitis. However, it merits mentioning that those are less likely. Still, since they are a possibility, any potential infection should be evaluated by your health care provider.

What should you do for pregnancy chills?

Along with any course of medical treatment advised by your doctor, there are a few things you can do at home to ward off those chills. Yes, we’re giving you an excuse to bundle up in your coziest cardigans and blankets! Who cares what time of year it is; if you’re experiencing pregnancy chills, you have full permission to make your home feel warm and snuggly like glorious autumn all year round.

Also, try to make sure you’re getting as much sleep, nutritious food, and water as possible. Your body is working hard right now, and all of those things help it run at optimal capacity.

Is it normal to have chills in early pregnancy?

We hate to use the word “normal” as it might imply anyone who doesn’t experience chills is somehow abnormal. Or that experiencing something unexpected during pregnancy should be shrugged off. Having said that, many women do feel cold in early pregnancy, making it a relatively common occurrence. Of course, a lot of women feel hot during early pregnancy, too. Bottom line: Listen to your body. If something feels off, call your doc.