Does your temperature increase when you’re in labour?
24th November, 2023

Every birth story is different- some are worrying, and some are calm. From the moment the two lines appear on the test, you can expect to face symptoms- some mild, some extreme. There are all sorts of symptoms of pregnancy out there: nausea, fatigue, increased urination etc. All this is to be expected before the birth, but what about during the birth?  There are birth stories out there crazy enough to put any woman off of labour. But, with a little warning, women may feel more at ease when nearing the end of their pregnancy; one of the things to look out for is sweating.

You see pictures all the time. Woman red-faced and sweating during labour. Why is this? There are a variety of contributing factors to the temperature of women during the stages of labour, some more dangerous and complex than others.

Women after labour

Women and child.

A less dangerous, yet more common factor is stress and anxiety felt by women before and during labour. It is believed that stress releases hormones into the blood. The sudden release and rush of hormones react with the brain sensors in the endocrine system. The body’s first reaction to this is to increase the temperature, potentially causing fever and complications. However, anxiety is another big factor. Anxiety is often associated with the feeling of ‘fight or flight’. This behaviour causes vasoconstriction- the contraction of blood vessels until they become small and narrow. The constriction in the blood vessels can cause the body to heat up rapidly. This is why, as cliché as it sounds, staying calm and relaxed before and during labour is crucial to you and your baby. Unnecessary stress and anxiety can cause temperatures to skyrocket for both you and your baby.

Let’s say your calm before you go into labour, your feeling positive. Although you may be reducing your risk of increase temperatures, there is still one factor that could affect you. We are warned of the dangers of bacteria our whole lives, but sometimes it is out of our control. Chorioamnionitis can cause a significant rise in temperatures during labour, massively increasing the dangers. It is an infection of the membranes of the vagina. However, it is easily spread to the uterus, targeting the location of the baby. The bacterial infection can happen before/as the waters break, or as soon as labour begins. This condition is more common in pre-term births then it is full-term. Around 1-5% of full-term births are affected by this, but 40-70% of pre-term births are affected. Chorioamnionitis is one of the main reasons for prematurity.

temperature increase

Yes, this is something to be cautious about, but it will not impact everyone and there is no need to stress consistently about it. Speaking to a medical professional about this during your pregnancy may help to relieve some of your personal worries/fears and prepare you for a smooth, beautiful birth.

There are simple steps you can take in order to keep your temperature down during labour. Cooling products applied to the sensory points of your body: wrists, feet, neck and hands, can help to maintain a steady, cool temperature and comfort you in the stages before and during active labour.


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