Pregnancy Chills: What Causes Feeling Cold While Pregnant?

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

October 26, 2020 Updated September 28, 2021

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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 at 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, though, 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.

Your body goes through a million changes when you’re pregnant and sometimes being freaking cold is part of it. If you’re a naturally cold girl who’s always reaching for a blanket or sweater, you know this cold life is super annoying. But thankfully, at least while you’re pregnant, this isn’t usually a cause for concern. Getting chills is just part of the mama-to-be process for some women. When you have a bun in the oven, it’s easy to over-analyze and worry about each shift your body faces. This is why it helps to know where chills come from, what they could be signs of, and how to deal with them (apart from bundling up). Knowing what chills are not signs of is sometimes just as helpful as knowing what they are, since that knowledge may give you peace of mind.

So, 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. Signs of a miscarriage typically include severe back pain, abdominal cramping, heavy spotting, and vaginal bleeding.

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 work overtime to get enough blood pumped to tissues and organs. This may cause 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. You may also experience irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, pale skin, and feelings of weakness.
  • 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.
  • High basal body temperature: During the first few weeks of your pregnancy, you’re going to experience many changes emotionally and physically. Your basal body temperature, in particular, may increase as well. This is the temperature of your body when it’s at rest. When your body temperature is this high, it interacts with the temperature of the surrounding air, making your body believe that it’s actually lower. This can lead to flu-like chills.

If you have chills and a fever, it could be a sign of an infection. Complications may include:

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

Pregnancy chills accompanied by a 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, 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 its best. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, now is a great time to cut back on the caffeine. It is also important to make sure your iron levels are high, so be sure to take iron supplements.

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.

What are actual pregnancy symptoms?

Having chills can be a symptom of pregnancy, but they aren’t always a direct sign. Here’s a refresher on telltale pregnancy symptoms if you suspect you have a bun in the oven.

  • Spotting and cramping can be signs of a baby. When the egg attaches itself to the uterus wall, it can cause light bleeding and pain in your lower abdomen.
  • Your breast may go up a few sizes. When you’re pregnant, your hormones go wild, which can make your boobs swollen and tender. Your areoles may also darken a bit.
  • Morning sickness and nausea are also common symptoms. Plus, you may develop a weird relationship with food. How? You might have intense cravings for certain flavors, while the smell of other food makes you want to puke your guts out.
  • The most common sign is a missed period. But remember, many things can cause this, including stress or heavy exercise. 
  • Has the bathroom become your best friend? Increased urination is a sign that you may have a baby on board. When you’re pregnant, your body pumps way more blood than usual, which means your kidney is processing more fluid. This leads to a fuller bladder. As your baby grows, the urge to pee may reappear because your growing uterus may press on your bladder. To stay hydrated and avoid any accidents, drink water and make bathroom breaks part of your schedule.