Treating Postpartum Night Sweats


Written by Tidewater Physicians For Women on .

Childbirth takes a heavy toll on your body, leaving you with many unsuspecting postpartum symptoms like night sweats.

For many new moms, night sweats are more than a mere inconvenience. When they persist, they can cause you to wake up drenched in sweat and lose sleep. As a result, you can experience irritability and exhaustion throughout the day, making it difficult to care for the new baby or babies at home.

If at-home solutions are not working to stop night sweats or they persist longer than six weeks postpartum, there could be an underlying issue that requires medical treatment. Talking with a physician who specializes in women’s health can help in diagnosing and treating your discomfort.

What are Postpartum Night Sweats?

Just as the name suggests, postpartum night sweats refer to sweating more than usual at night during the postpartum period, or the six-week period that follows childbirth.

This excessive sweating is caused by the hormonal changes that occur as you recover from pregnancy and childbirth and your body returns to baseline. More specifically, levels of estrogen and progesterone increase during pregnancy and then decrease following childbirth. These fluctuations and low estrogen and progesterone levels can lead to night sweats. Postpartum night sweating also serves an important purpose: it helps your body get rid of excess fluids it needed during pregnancy.

The sweating might wake you and require you to wash your bedding or even shower in order to get comfortable and get back to sleep. This can be disruptive to both sleep and routine, both of which are important for a new mom.

Are Postpartum Night Sweats Normal?

Yes. Although they can be uncomfortable, excessive sweating at night in the weeks after you have a baby is normal. About 29% of women experience this symptom as their hormone levels fluctuate after childbirth, so you aren’t alone. In fact, if you share your frustrations with other mothers, you’ll likely find women who can relate and assure you that you are not alone.

There are some instances in which postpartum night sweats are not normal and are instead an indication that something might be wrong. It’s always a good time to discuss your symptoms with your doctor to ensure you are taking all the right steps and you have not missed anything that could lead to a diagnosis or treatment during this pivotal time in your life. As a new mom, your baby’s needs often take priority while your own wellness takes the back seat, but it’s important to be aware of how you feel.

What are the Symptoms of Postpartum Night Sweats?

It’s relatively easy to determine that you’re dealing with postpartum night sweats. If you wake up in the middle of the night and your bed and pajamas are soaked, you are most likely suffering from the common but frustrating postpartum night sweats. You might have hot flashes during the night and struggle to cool down. You might notice that your bedding or pajamas smell like gym clothes and need to be laundered more often – even daily. You may wake up every night or several times a night, and consequently, experience tiredness, exhaustion, or irritability during the day, making it more difficult to care for yourself and your newborn.

How Long Do Postpartum Night Sweats Last?

The first six weeks after you have a baby is considered the postpartum period. During this period, it’s common to experience all kinds of unexpected signs and symptoms (and to wonder if they’re normal or worry if something is wrong).

Postpartum sweating shouldn’t last more than about six weeks. Most women report that it peaks around two weeks after childbirth and begins to improve after that, resolving completely by the six-week mark.

If you experience night sweats that do not resolve after six weeks, it becomes more likely that there is another underlying cause. In those cases, your OB-GYN can help.

Are Postpartum Night Sweats Preventable?

There’s nothing you can do to guarantee you won’t experience night sweats during the postpartum period. When it comes to how to deal with night swats, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of experiencing postpartum night sweats and improve your quality of sleep.

  • Drink plenty of water during the day and keep a cold water bottle near your bed to help you stay hydrated.
  • Lay on a towel down on your bed before you go to sleep at night; it will absorb some of the sweat and help prevent bedding changes.
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation, which relieve stress and potentially multiple postpartum problems like night sweats and stress.
  • Use bedsheets that are moisture-wicking so they dry quickly.
  • Wear loose clothing (or sleep in less clothing) to improve air circulation and help you keep your body temperature at a comfortable level.
  • Avoid drinking coffee and other hot liquids, especially after late afternoon.
  • Spicy food can lead to postpartum night sweats, so avoid spicy foods to the extent possible.
  • Turn on air conditioning or keep the room temperature a few degrees lower to prevent or accommodate hot flashes.
  • Run a fan at night, especially bedside if possible.

Because one of the primary causes of postpartum night sweats is hormonal changes, which can’t be prevented, you can never fully prevent them from occurring. These steps can help alleviate symptoms.

Some herbal remedies or supplements might be helpful, too, but it’s important to note that supplements and herbal remedies should never be taken without consulting your physician. Many are not safe for people with certain conditions, interact with certain medications, or are not safe while breastfeeding. Because herbal remedies are not well-studied, you might not find this information online.

How Do You Treat Postpartum Night Sweats?

If you’ve taken steps to alleviate your postpartum night sweats without relief, it’s important to let your physician know. He or she can not only help explore treatment for night sweats, but also look for underlying causes when postpartum night sweats are accompanied by other signs and symptoms or last longer than 6 weeks after your baby is born.

In rare cases, underlying causes can include:

  • postpartum thyroiditis, inflammation of your thyroid that occurs after childbirth
  • hyperthyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid becomes overactive and produces too much thyroxine
  • anxiety, a condition characterized by persistent fear and worry
  • diabetes, a chronic condition that affects how your body metabolizes sugars
  • infection somewhere in the body or bloodstream
  • hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels due to other underlying problems
  • menopause, the point in time that marks the end of menstruation

Each of these underlying conditions requires treatment of its own, separate and different from the treatment of traditional postpartum night sweats. Some of these conditions can be serious and require immediate medical attention, so if you suspect your night sweats might be something more, don’t delay getting the evaluation you need from a qualified healthcare professional.

Unable to Find Relief for Postpartum Night Sweats? Time to See a Physician.

If postpartum night sweats are affecting your quality of life or persisting beyond six weeks postpartum, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider who specializes in obstetrics and women’s health. This appointment is also a great time to discuss postpartum depression, lactation, mental health, water weight, constipation, postpartum swelling, sterility, side effects of any medications, and any other issues that are top of mind for you at this time.

One way to be sure you touch on all of the questions you have is to keep a running list at home. The more information you’re able to provide for your OB-GYN, the better they’ll understand what the postpartum period has been like for you and what issues might be at play.

Tidewater Physicians for Women provides compassionate, expert care for women in all walks of life. Whether you’re trying to conceive, looking for permanent birth control, recovering from childbirth, or walking through menopause, we’ve been there and we’ve helped thousands of women who are in the same phase of life.

Call our office to schedule an appointment in Norfolk or Virginia Beach today at (757) 461-3890. Our doctors understand the importance of maternal care and can help rule out or identify any underlying concerns. If additional treatment is needed, our team is well-versed in safety for postpartum women, breastfeeding moms, and their newborns.

Tidewater Physicians For Women

Written By Tidewater Physicians For Women

Tidewater Physicians For Women
Tidewater Physicians for Women is a division of Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care with offices in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia. Our practice takes comprehensive care to a higher level with a large team of experienced and qualified physicians, nurse practitioners, and two licensed counselors.
Tidewater Physicians for Women
a division of Mid-Atlantic Women’s Care
VA Beach

828 Healthy Way Unit 330
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Fax: 757-467-0301

Norfolk

880 Kempsville Road, Ste 201
Norfolk, VA 23502

Fax: 757-461-0836

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