Postpartum sweating is the condition of excessive sweating after you give birth, even if you’re sitting still or sleeping. The condition can put a damper on your postpartum experience, leaving you uncomfortable and embarrassed. If you're suffering from this, it may be comforting to know you’re not alone.
Postpartum sweats happen to about one in ten women. Although the level of sweat is high – enough to make you look as if you’ve completed a vigorous marathon or an intense fitness workout! – it's nothing to be ashamed of. This is a very common experience for mothers who have recently given birth.
Postpartum sweating is the body’s process of releasing excess water and fluid from pregnancy. Many women find that while the process can be unsightly and uncomfortable, it helps them shed water weight gained during pregnancy. In many cases, women who breastfeed experience this phenomenon longer than women who don’t.
That's the basics of postpartum night sweats - read on to learn what causes them and how you can alleviate them.
Postpartum sweating has not been studied comprehensively, so there’s no officially accepted cause. However, doctors generally agree postpartum sweating is triggered by a drop in pregnancy hormones after childbirth.
After you give birth, your body goes through huge changes to rid itself of excess fluids and hormones no longer needed. As a result, you’ll see a heavy release of fluids through excretion. The bulk of these materials will leave when you urinate; however, postpartum sweating can speed up the process.
Yes, this is uncomfortable. No woman wants to deal with excessive sweating, especially when they’re already lacking restful sleep and recovering from childbirth.
The good news, however, is that postpartum sweating, while annoying, is completely normal. It generally only lasts for a few weeks. In some cases this may extend to a few months, but there's no need to worry. (Unless you have a fever, which is a sign of infection. In that instance, please check with your physician.)
Drink plenty of fluids.
One of the big misconceptions about postpartum sweating is that cutting back on fluids will cut back on the sweating. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You actually need more water and non-alcoholic fluids to help you get through this period. The more you drink, the more fluid gets flushed out, which helps you pass through this phase much more quickly.
Heavy sweating can leave you dehydrated, so keep your fluid levels high. Drink one or two glasses of water as soon as you wake up so you immediately replenish any fluids lost throughout the night. Drinking plenty of fluid is also important if you’re breastfeeding your baby.
Modify your wardrobe to include loose, lightweight clothing.
Loose, lightweight clothing made of natural fibers such as cotton is recommended during this period. These materials are woven in a way that allows your skin to breathe, as opposed to synthetic materials that leave your skin sticky and icky.
The same goes for your sheets and bedding - use only cotton bedding if possible. You want your skin to excrete as easily as possible, and natural linen fibers are superior for breathability over synthetic ones, no matter how fashionable they are.
Dressing in layers also helps you cool off when you’re experiencing the sweats. You’ll be able to remove a layer to cool yourself down whenever you get too hot, as well as replace layers if you start to get cold.
Avoid prolonged sun and heat.
It goes without saying, right? The more heat you’re exposed to, the more you’re going to sweat. It’s how your body cools off to avoid overheating. Take precautions to avoid prolonged sun exposure, especially in the middle of the day when it’s hottest. Embrace air-conditioned environments as much as possible. Fans may be helpful, but they’re not going to be very successful if you’re in extremely warm weather, particularly 80 degrees or higher.
Don’t work out in the heat.
Exercise is helpful for battling postpartum conditions, including postpartum depression. However, when you’re battling excess sweat, it doesn’t make your battle any easier. Schedule your fitness regimen early in the morning or during the evening hours, so you’re not working out during the hottest parts of the day.
Say no to hot beverages and spices.
Yes, for a small period of time, you may need to put down the herbal teas and lattes, and take measures to avoid spicy dishes like vindaloo and Fra Diavolo! Hot, spicy foods and heated beverages may be delicious, but they can trigger excessive sweating. Spicy foods are a known catalyst for hot flashes, as menopausal women can attest to. Hot beverages raise your body temperature, meaning you're more likely to feel flushed and sweaty.
And while we’re on the subject…
Cut down on caffeine and alcohol
Caffeinated and alcoholic drinks are more known sweat triggers. While the link between alcohol or caffeine and sweating isn’t fully understood, these items are clearly linked to increased sweating and hot flashes. (By the way, so is smoking, which is something to avoid for other obvious reasons.)
Avoid hot baths and soaks.
The hot tub can be a luxuriant, relaxing environment, but when you’re already hot and sweaty, this will only make things worse. You'll antagonize your body’s temperature, causing it to shoot up and trigger yet more sweating. Avoid saunas too - they’ll only increase your sweating, making you even more uncomfortable.
Waking up to a wet, soaked through pillow with wet hair clinging to your neck is not fun at all. Cover your pillow with a bathroom towel before you go to sleep. The towel will absorb moisture, allowing you to stay dry for an extended period of time. Keep two or three extra towels by your bedside to swap out as needed.
Take a cool shower.
Cool off with a shower. Not only will this refresh you, but you get an opportunity to take time for yourself and wash away the stickiness caused by excess sweating.
Invest in clean cotton sheets, fresh towels, and regular linen changes.
Waking up soggy is never fun. Don’t stop at clean cotton sheets and a fresh towel every night before bed. Invest in a cooling mattress pad and mattress toppers. If your sweat is extremely excessive, prepare to switch out your linens on a very regular basis to consistently keep them clean. Sleep naked if you're comfortable doing so for further bedtime comfort.
Keep Your Nightstand Stocked
Keep items for refreshment by your side at night. Baby powder can absorb the moisture from sweat - just make sure you use 100% corn starch baby powder, as talc has been shown to be harmful to the body. Extra towels, a robe to throw on when it’s time to feed the baby, a bottle of water, and a fan can all improve your comfort during this time. (Keep these items close by in the baby’s nursery, as well as in every area of the house you’re in during the day. Doing so makes refreshing yourself more convenient!)
Consider a BedJet v2
BedJet v2 allows you to hack your body’s natural sleep biorhythms with intelligent bed cooling and warming. Regular use can help you sleep better, allowing you to wake up more refreshed.
BedJet is a patented device that provides temperature controlled sleeping environments without changing the feel of your mattress. The device allows you to cool off in just 180 seconds. Exclusive air technology, JetConvect, removes body moisture from the bed, allowing you to sleep more comfortably.
The BedJet is highly recommended for those who struggle with night sweats, such as women with postpartum sweating. It even comes with a Bluetooth-enabled Sleep App to intelligently control your device from your smartphone.
A Chilipad Cube May Also Help
Another potential investment is in a Chilipad Cube. The Chilipad Cube is a mattress pad equipped with cooling and heating temperature control systems. The product regulates your mattress’s surface temperature in a unique way: it circulates water through microtubes. These microtubes form a network that cools your bed, giving you a positive sleeping experience. The system comes in your choice of single or dual zone, allowing you to manipulate for one or two people, depending on bed size.
While you might feel uncomfortable at the moment, postpartum night sweats are completely normal and natural - and the good news is, they shouldn't last too long. If you've found effective ways to deal with postpartum sweating, please share your experiences in the comments below. I'd love to share your tips with my readers!