Night sweats are among the most common and minor postpartum symptoms. If any smell, sight, or noise will keep you awake, it’s night sweats. They can be exhausting and even embarrassing if accompanied by a flood of sweat. Sadly, many new moms don’t know that night sweats are entirely regular after delivery and will only last for a few months.
If you have just recently given birth, you may have noticed that your body temperature and sweat levels go up at night, especially in hot climates. This normal hormonal response to lactation helps with breast milk production. However, some women experience more extreme sweating than others, which can be worrisome if you aren’t prepared for this side effect.
What are Postpartum Night Sweats?
Postpartum night sweats are extreme sweating that occurs during the night. This condition is common among women during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Women who are very active during pregnancy may notice more sweating than usual, as the body may produce more sweat because of the increased blood flow to the muscles. The same principle applies to breastfeeding moms. As the body works to produce milk, it also works to regulate body temperature. In turn, the body pumps out more sweat. The same is true for those who experience a drastic shift in diet and lifestyle.
How Long Do They Last?
Postpartum night sweats last about six to 12 weeks and gradually subside after breastfeeding. If the sweating and overheating don’t decrease after a few months, you may be experiencing hyperthyroidism, a medical condition requiring professional treatment. If you have had night sweats before getting pregnant, they may become more frequent and intense during pregnancy. If you have these symptoms for the first time while pregnant or breastfeeding, they will eventually subside.
What Causes Postpartum Night Sweats?
Night sweats are caused by a sudden surge of progesterone, estrogen, and other hormones, which regulate milk production. As a result, your body temperature increases, and more sweat is produced to regulate body temperature. Additionally, sleeping in a hot and humid room can encourage sweating. If you’ve been experiencing unusually high body temperatures, you may notice that your night sweats come with a wetter sweat.
Tips for Managing Excessive Sweating
Below are some of the tips for managing excessive sweating:
- Wear loose clothing to bed: Night sweats can cause you to feel overheated, so it’s important to wear clothing that will help you stay cool and comfortable. This will help regulate your body temperature and prevent you from getting too hot at night. Wearing tight clothing next to your skin can trap heat and sweat next to your skin. Loose clothing allows airflow and can help regulate your temperature. Also, lightweight, natural fabrics like cotton or bamboo are ideal.
- Turn down the thermostat or open the windows: Keeping the room temperature on the cooler side will help you stay comfortable throughout the night and minimize sweating. If you have central air conditioning, set the thermostat to around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have air conditioning, open a window or use a fan to circulate the air.
- Stay hydrated during the day: Drinking plenty of fluids during the day will help prevent night sweats by regulating your body temperature. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can make night sweats worse. Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep, which can aggravate night sweats.
- Eat less spicy/sugary foods: Eating spicy or sugary foods can increase your body temperature, which can increase sweating at night. If you have trouble eating spicy food during the day, consider lowering your intake of these foods before bedtime to avoid sweating excessively at night. Many women who have experienced postpartum night sweats may find that spicy food is among the worst culprits.
- Practice stress-relieving techniques: The stress of caring for a new baby can trigger night sweats. Try to take some time for yourself each day to relax and de-stress. Simple stress-relievers like deep breathing, yoga, or meditation can be helpful.
- Keep cool before bedtime: Taking a cool shower or bath just before bed can serve two purposes. First, it can be soothing and help you to relax before sleep, and second, it can help you lower your body temperature and reduce the likelihood of night sweats.
- Sleep on a towel to absorb some of the sweat: One way you can help yourself is by sleeping on a towel made of absorbent material. Place the towel under your top sheet for the best results when you go to bed. You may still sweat some overnight, but this will help minimize the moisture on your bed sheets to get a better night’s sleep.
- Talk to your doctor: In some cases, hot flashes or hormonal imbalances may be to blame for night sweats. If over-the-counter treatments don’t seem to be helping, be sure to talk to your doctor about other options that may be available.
Postpartum night sweats can be quite uncomfortable and inconvenient. However, they are usually temporary and should dissipate within a few weeks to months after giving birth. You can do some things to help manage them in the meantime, including staying cool and drinking plenty of fluids. If your night sweats persist or cause significant discomfort, please consult your doctor for additional advice and treatment options.