Navigating through postpartum changes? If you’ve been soaking the sheets with sweat after delivering your baby, you’re not alone. Similar to the ones occurring during perimenopause and menopause, night sweats after childbirth are common and yet, bothersome. Delve into how to deal with postpartum sweats, as we discuss the origins, duration, and effective strategies for managing postpartum night sweats right here.
What Causes Postpartum Night Sweats?
Hormonal changes from pregnancy are responsible for the night sweats you experience after giving birth. The chief of general obstetrics and gynecology at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, Dara Matseoane-Peterssen, M.D., explains that hormonal shifts after delivery are to blame for these symptoms. Estrogen and progesterone levels naturally increase during pregnancy. These levels naturally decline after birth. Some individuals with low estrogen levels have reported experiencing mood fluctuations, vaginal dryness, and night sweats similar to those experienced during menopause.
Breastfeeding mothers also have reduced estrogen levels, which may increase their risk of developing postpartum night sweats. Breastfeeding mothers “experience rising levels of prolactin, a hormone necessary for breastfeeding that also acts to keep estrogen levels low,” explains Dr. Matseoane-Peterssen. The symptoms here are remarkably similar to those of menopause.
Because exclusive breastfeeding alters your hormones, it can prevent ovulation and your period, which can lead to night sweats in breastfeeding mothers and fathers. “It’s similar to menopause, which is why women experience similar symptoms,” said Dr. Heather Beall of Northwestern Medicine’s McHenry Hospital’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Night sweats are a common pregnancy symptom. According to Dr. Matseoane-Peterssen, “They are also a bit of a misnomer because the feeling of having too much heat in your body or quickly sweating a lot can happen during pregnancy (35% of respondents in one study) and after giving birth (29% of respondents in the same study).”
However, not every new mother will have night sweats after giving birth. “Most people who choose to use a formula to feed their kids don’t have night sweats because their periods come back within a couple of months of giving birth.” explains Dr. Beall.
How long do night sweats after childbirth often last?
It varies, but nocturnal sweats after giving birth are most common in the first several weeks. “The postpartum variety may peak 1-2 weeks after delivery and improve as hormone fluctuations do,” explains Dr. Matseoane-Peterssen.
The longer you breastfeed, the more likely it is that you will sweat. After six months, many mothers introduce solid foods to their infants. Adding food changes everything, Dr. Beall warns. When your hormones return to normal, you ovulate and start having periods again. That’s when a lot of the other symptoms, like the night sweats, fade away, too.
How long postpartum night sweats last may also be influenced by your weight. Dr. Beall explains that estrogen can be produced either in the ovaries or in the body’s fat cells. Although the ovulatory function is reduced after breastfeeding, a woman who carries a lot of extra fat can store enough estrogen to prevent night sweats. Less estrogen in the body could mean more symptoms for the underweight.
Why Do I Still Have Night Sweats After Giving Birth?
Night sweats after childbirth, unfortunately, tend to stop on their own time. However, there are ways to lessen their impact. Here are some pointers from doctors and new parents who have dealt with night sweats after giving birth.
Keep your cool.
Dr. Matseoane-Peterssen recommends sleeping with a fan nearby or turning on the air conditioning.
“Every night, I would purposely dress in layers that were easy to shed throughout the night,” mom Brittany Duffee explains. In order to induce perspiration, I would pile on the blankets, assume the fetal position, and wait for the trembling to end. Every night before bed, I would layer towels on my side to absorb the moisture and protect our mattress from the inevitable puddle of sweat.
Make some changes to your eating and workout habits.
“Even a brisk walk can help,” adds Dr. Matseoane-Peterssen, so it’s good to get moving. Caffeine and alcohol are both said to make symptoms worse, therefore, avoiding them is recommended. While Dr. Beall agrees that taking certain vitamins and minerals after giving birth is fine, she advises against doing so during nursing.
Stay hydrated at all costs.
Dr. Matseoane-Peterssen advises, “If you are a nursing mother, it is especially important to replenish the fluids you lose via sweat with water.” And guzzle it down.
Kristen, the woman behind the Momosas podcast, explains that she had a few tricks up her sleeve by the time she had her third child. Every night before bed, I’d lay out a fresh shirt in case I needed to change in the wee hours. My night sweats were less severe if I drank enough water throughout the day.
How to Recognize a Postpartum Sweat Emergency
Dr. Matseoane-Peterssen recommends seeing an OB-GYN if you’re experiencing night sweats and fever, rapid heart rate, or a cough with mucus production. Because of these additional symptoms, it may be necessary to rule out infectious or thyroid-related causes of sweating.
And if the emotional toll of your postpartum night sweats is too much to bear, make an appointment with your doctor right away. “Please talk to your doctor or nurse if your irritation turns into stress or sadness into hopelessness,” advises Dr. Matseoane-Peterssen. These emotions are associated with anxiety and sadness, both of which we may treat.
But know that if these feelings do come, they won’t remain forever. Dr. Beall says, “I usually discuss it with patients during their postpartum appointments.” Knowing that their symptoms will subside quickly usually helps.
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