Postpartum night sweats – What’s the deal?

You’re no longer pregnant, you’ve brought your new baby home, and while you know that your body needs time to recover from the birth, you might not be expecting one of the more unusual postpartum symptoms.

Have you woken up in the middle of the night with your pyjamas and sheets soaking wet? A pool of sweat between your breasts? Just when you need all the precious sleep you can get, and really don’t need to be up changing clothing and bedding on top of the night feeds and nappy changes!

Don’t panic, it’s very normal and common. Also known as ‘breastfeeding’ sweats, it affects about a third of mums in the postpartum period.

Postpartum night sweats – What’s the deal?

Postpartum night sweats are caused by the dramatic drop in hormone levels once your baby and placenta have been delivered. Additionally, since you have a 40% increase in blood volume during pregnancy, your body must excrete this excess fluid through urine and sweat.

How long will it last?

While it can be uncomfortable and annoying, rest assured it’s only temporary. Night sweating is usually the most severe in the first two weeks postpartum, but can last up to six weeks. If it lasts longer than this, or you also have a fever, please see your GP to rule out any other complications or infections.

What’s the treatment?

Hang tight, mumma, it will get better soon. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do until your hormones and fluid levels regulate:

  • Keep cool at night. Use a fan, air-conditioner, or open a window while you sleep.
  • Stay hydrated with plenty of water. It’s vital that you keep up your fluids with all of this perspiring, and particularly if you’re breastfeeding. Your urine should be clear or light, and you should be using the toilet frequently.
  • Wear loose, breathable fabrics to bed. Wearing cotton and other natural fibres, rather than synthetic ones, will keep you cooler.
  • Limit caffeine and spicy  foods. Try to cut back on anything stimulating, or foods that make you heat up.
  • Protect your mattress. You might like to layer up mattress protectors and sheets, so that you don’t have to fully remake the bed during the night. Just strip off a layer each time. You might even prefer to sleep on a towel, and keep some clean ones nearby to replace each time you wake up sweating.
  • Protect your skin. If the sweating is causing skin issues such as rashes, you might like to use a talc-free powder or barrier cream, particularly under your breasts.

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