Why Do I Get Postpartum Night Sweats?

Why Do I Get Postpartum Night Sweats?

So things are getting a little hot and heavy in the bedroom, and not in a way that you like.
Yep, postpartum night sweats can really get in the way of a comfortable night’s sleep.

So what causes them? How long do they last? And are they anything to worry about? Let’s dive in.

First things first, how do we even define the postpartum period?

In this article: 📝

  • How long after birth are you considered postpartum?
  • Is it normal to have postpartum night sweats?
  • Does breastfeeding cause excessive sweating?
  • How long do postpartum night sweats last?

How long after birth are you considered postpartum?

The postpartum period is also known as the fourth trimester because it is such an important part of your pregnancy.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the postpartum period covers the 12 weeks after you give birth.

But as this review outlines, it may be a bit more complicated than that.

What’s known as the delayed postpartum period may last up to six months as your body recovers from the heck of a ride that is pregnancy and giving birth.

And while these guides are useful, every body is different. The postpartum period is about recovery, and that is not a one-size-fits-all process.

Is it normal to have postpartum night sweats?

Postpartum sweating is pretty common. It’s experienced by around a third of women in the weeks after birth.

And guess what? It’s mainly to do with those pregnancy hormones (no surprises there) and how they’re adjusting to a post-pregnancy world.

Let’s delve into the main reasons for postpartum night sweats:

1. Hormones

While you’re pregnant, your levels of progesterone and estrogen rise to help you out with the awesome task of growing a baby.

Once your little one makes their appearance in the world, those levels drop again, causing a range of interesting symptoms.

In particular, these hormonal changes can directly affect your hypothalamus, which is like your body’s thermostat.

Plummeting levels of estrogen, in particular, appear to trick your hypothalamus into thinking you are too hot—this causes your brain to tell the rest of your body to cool you down, resulting in sweating.

This shift in hormones can also affect everything from your mental health to your energy levels to how your vagina feels (true story).

2. Fluid loss

Night sweats may be your body working to get rid of excess fluid

During pregnancy, a woman’s body can take on up to 50% more blood and bodily fluid which can increase to 60% in the third trimester—isn’t the body amazing?

Postpartum, this fluid no longer serves, and so your body removes it through urine and sweat.

So if you wake up a little sticky, it’s usually par for the postpartum course.

Although it might sound counterproductive, ensure you stay hydrated—especially if breastfeeding—as helps to flush out toxins and dilute odors.

3. Infection

There are some cases where night sweats can be a sign that something else is up.

If you experience postpartum chills and night sweats together, or you are running a fever, it’s definitely worth checking in with your healthcare provider.

As this medical overview explains, a fever can result from postpartum complications, such as infections, which require medical attention.

Other symptoms to watch out for that may signal complications are:

  • Excessive vaginal bleeding and/or having large blood clots when you bleed
  • Trouble peeing
  • Severe pain
  • Vaginal discharge that has a strange color or smell
  • Any sign that your c-section scar might be infected. (Discharge, pain, or redness at the surgical site might signal something is up.)
  • Depression and anxiety

Other reasons you might break into a nightly sweat are hyperthyroidism and sleep apnea, both of which are worth consulting your doctor about.

Postpartum complications happen, so if you’re at all concerned, don’t wait to get the help you need.

Does breastfeeding cause excessive sweating?

Breastfeeding can indeed make you break out into a sweat because of the low estrogen levels you might be experiencing.

It’s important to keep hydrated. (Yep, it’s true that breast milk is more than 80% water.)

Drinking a glass of cold water can be a game-changer.

Other ways to find relief? Sleep on a damp towel in light clothing, or try a cold compress.

How long do postpartum night sweats last?

The good news is that night sweats tend to fizzle out on their own at some point during the postpartum phase.

They often reach a peak during the first two weeks after delivery and start easing up as your hormone levels balance out.

If you’re still getting night sweats five months postpartum and beyond, it’s worth checking in with your healthcare provider.

Good luck with your recovery process. And congratulations on your new baby!


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