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I just had a baby. Why am I sweating so much?

Bringing a new life into the world is a big deal. There’s relief, joy and a fair few challenges too. Among the less-talked-about but fairly common postpartum symptoms is excessive sweating. If you’re a new mum waking up drenched in sweat or finding yourself perspiring more than usual, you’re not alone. Here’s how to cope when you’re feeling like a sweaty mess…

What is postpartum sweating?

Postpartum sweating, also known as postpartum night sweats or postpartum hyperhidrosis, is a condition many new mothers experience. It usually manifests as excessive sweating, particularly during the night, and is a result of the body adjusting after childbirth. It can be quite confronting, especially when you’re already navigating the millions of other things going on in your mind and body.

What causes postpartum sweating?

Several factors contribute to postpartum sweating, including hormonal changes, fluid loss, and the body’s efforts to return to its pre-pregnancy state.

1 Hormonal changes

During pregnancy, your body experiences a surge in hormones, particularly oestrogen and progesterone. After delivery, these hormone levels plummet, which can trigger the sweat glands to work overtime. According to the NHS, the drastic drop in these hormones is a significant factor in postpartum sweating as the body attempts to get rid of the excess fluids retained during pregnancy .

2 Fluid loss

Pregnancy causes your body to retain more fluids, which is necessary for both the baby and the mother. Post-delivery, your body starts to eliminate this excess fluid through different ways, including urine and sweat. This natural process can result in increased levels of sweating.

3 Metabolic changes

Your basic metabolic rate (BMR), which is the amount of energy used daily, increases during pregnancy to support the growing baby. (Fun fact: pregnant women operate at 2.2 times their BMR everyday which is the same as an endurance athlete). After birth, as your metabolism gradually returns to its pre-pregnancy state, you might experience a higher body temperature and sweating.

How long does the sweating usually last?

There isn’t an exact answer to this one. Many women report that postpartum sweating is most intense during the first few days to two weeks after childbirth. After that, the frequency The frequency and intensity of sweating often decrease significantly within the first six weeks postpartum as hormone levels begin to stabilise. That being said, some women report that the sweats continue for many months after giving birth.

How can I make it stop?

There isn’t really a way to make the sweating stop, however there are some things you can do to help manage when you’re totally soaked…

Stay hydrated

It may seem counterintuitive, but staying hydrated is crucial. Drinking plenty of water helps regulate your body temperature and compensates for the fluids lost through sweating.

Keep clothing loose and light

Wear loose, breathable clothing made from natural fibres like cotton. At night, consider sleeping in lightweight pyjamas and using light bedding to stay cool. Consider using absorbent sheets or mattress protectors to keep your bed dry. Nursing pads can also be helpful if you experience breast sweat.

Keep your environment cool

Use a fan to maintain a cool sleeping environment. Keep windows open for ventilation if the weather permits. Cool showers before bed can also help reduce night sweats.

Maintain a healthy diet

Certain foods and drinks, such as spicy foods and caffeine, can increase body temperature and exacerbate sweating. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help your body recover and stabilize more quickly.

Although it’s challenging with a newborn, try to rest when possible. Lack of sleep can exacerbate sweating and overall discomfort. Enlist the help of your partner, family, or friends to ensure you get some rest.

Practice stress-relief techniques

Stress can increase sweating. Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle postpartum yoga can help manage stress levels. Even just a couple of stretches before the baby wakes up is a win!

Connect with other mamas

Talk to your friends about postpartum life. The ones without kids probably won’t really have a clue what you’re going through (but are still great for a nice dose of perspective) and the ones with kids will understand immediately how you’re feeling.

Why is the smell so bad?

Even if you’re not sweating that much, you might find that you still smell a little differently these days. Again, this is a normal part of the body adapting after giving birth. In addition to hormonal changes, you’ve also got vaginal discharge, sweating, bleeding and all other bodily fluids coming out of everywhere and that’s even before you add in the baby poo and vomit.

Similar to sweating, any adverse smells will start to disappear over time. If you’re looking for a speedier fix, why not treat yourself to some new deodorant like these beaut options…

When should I start to be worried?

While postpartum sweating is usually normal, there are instances where it may indicate an underlying issue. Consult your GP if you experience:

  • Fever and Chills: If you experience a fever (temperature above 38°C or 100.4°F) along with chills, it could indicate an infection or other underlying condition.
  • Rapid Heartbeat: A consistently rapid heartbeat, especially if accompanied by dizziness or shortness of breath, could signal a more serious issue.
  • Extreme Fatigue: While some fatigue is expected postpartum, extreme or worsening fatigue in conjunction with sweating could be a sign of thyroid issues or anemia.
  • Swelling or Pain: If you notice significant swelling, pain, or redness in your legs, it could be a sign of a blood clot, which requires immediate medical attention.

Conclusion

Above all, be kind to yourself during this time. You’re doing an incredible job navigating the challenges of new motherhood. Embrace the support around you, prioritise your well-being, and take each day as it comes. Before you know it, your body will find its new equilibrium, and this phase will be a distant (slightly smelly) memory.


Sources

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/after-birth/
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Conclusion
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555904

Birthbabe does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. the resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. you should always consult with a healthcare professional regarding any medical diagnoses or treatment options.

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