Postpartum Night Sweats: Causes and Treatments

I always thought that after I had my baby, I would be able to go back to having comfortable, if often interrupted, sleep. No one told me that even though my enormously uncomfortable belly was gone, sleeping would be far from restful for a few weeks. I was having terrible night sweats postpartum and was even sweating a lot during the day as well.

No matter whether I was hot or cold, or not feeling one way or the other about the temperature, it seemed like I was forming embarrassing sweat rings on all my clothes and waking up at night, soaking wet from perspiration.

What Caused Postpartum Night Sweats

When we are pregnant, our bodies retain extra water. The second trimester of pregnancy our blood volume doubles to meet the needs of the developing fetus and we experience swelling as our bodies produce amniotic fluid and retain water.

This retention of fluid is needed to soften our bodies to prepare for our skin to expand as the baby gets larger and more developed. You probably noticed swelling of your hands, feet, ankles, and face—this was due to water retention. Your hips joints and pelvic tissue also needed this extra fluid to help with expansion for safe delivery of the baby.

The extra water weight that you will gain should account for up to 25% of your total healthy weight gain during pregnancy. After the baby is born and the birthing process is complete, your body no longer needs that extra fluid and must rid your body of it.

You will notice yourself urinating much more frequently during the first week following the birth of your baby; however, your pores do a lot of the work as well. As your body’s pregnancy hormones start to taper off, so will the night sweats and excess sweating in general.

Moms that are breastfeeding tend to suffer from night sweats longer. This is because there can be a hormonal or metabolic variance that is related to a progesterone deficiency causing sweating in new moms and breastfeeding moms.

When you are pregnant, the placenta is the main source of progesterone, so after delivery, that source is suddenly gone and your body can go through progesterone withdraws which cause night sweats. Breastfeeding causes your ovaries to lag in progesterone production, so night sweats can last longer in mamas that nurse.

What Can I Do About It?

There really isn’t much you can do about postpartum sweating because the symptoms are all temporary and related to pregnancy hormones. Your body needs to get rid of the extra water that it is retaining, and trust me, you want it to as well. Once you shed the extra water you will begin to feel less bloated and swollen. There are some things you can do to make yourself more comfortable however.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

You want to make sure you do not allow your self to get dehydrated, especially if you are nursing.

Drinking extra fluids will not make you sweat more. Drinking water first think in the morning and ensuring that you are drinking at least 10 glasses of water each day is essential the first few weeks after giving birth.

Keep your Mattress Clean

If you are sweating heavily at night you can try putting a rubber pad or mattress protector under your sheets so that your mattress does not collect moisture.

You can also put towels on the bed and on your pillows to collect some of the excess moisture.

These can easily be changed out if you wake up uncomfortable in the middle of the night as well. Using towels can also save you the hassle of having to wash your sheets every day if they become damp from night sweats.

Dress Light When Sleeping

Sleep nude or in very light weight, cotton clothing or lingerie.

Don’t wear silks or synthetic fabrics that will stick to you and become more uncomfortable if you are sweating. Synthetic fabrics can also become very itchy when you are hot and sweaty.

A jersey fabric or lightweight cotton are the best choices to stay cool if you are not comfortable sleeping without clothing.

Breathable Bedding

Sleep with just a sheet instead of a quilt or comforter. Make sure the sheets you are using are lightweight and cotton as well for coolness.

Sleep with only 1 pillow if you are comfortable like that because excess pillows on the bed can create more heat which can raise your body temperature.

Get Some Ventilation

Open the windows, turn on a fan or crank the Air conditioner. If your newborn doesn’t share a room with you, find a way to get some cool air circulating on you at night and tell your partner to grab an extra blanket or throw on some layers.

For the next few weeks your hormones are going to be out of control trying to get your body used to being not pregnant again and the cool night breeze is going to be essential to getting some comfort at night.

Apply Talc-Free Powder

Use a talc-free powder on your skin to absorb slight moisture if your sweating isn’t too bad. This is a nice trick for using during the day on your thighs, arms, and chest if you are having issues with sweating. 

I loved using baby powder on my back to help with back sweat during the day while I was running errands.

When Should I Seek Medical Assistance? 

Check your temperature. If you feel like your body temperature if fluctuating too much or your sweating is beyond what could be considered normal, don’t be afraid to get out the thermometer and test your temperature.

As new moms, we worry so much about our new little ones and assume every little annoyance we have with our bodies is a postpartum symptom that we forget to take care of ourselves properly. If your temperature is over 100 degrees, call your doctor. You could have an infection that needs additional treatment. Other questions to ask your doctor include:

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    How long should I be having night sweats postpartum?
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    Could any of my medications cause night sweats or make night sweats worse?
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    What symptoms should I be looking for that are cause to call you?
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    Do any of my preexisting conditions cause night sweats?

Make sure to keep your 4-6-week postpartum check up with your obgyn. This appointment is the perfect time to talk to him about your postpartum night sweats and any other issues or concerns that you may have with your body’s healing process post-delivery.