Postpartum and Breastfeeding

Postpartum Night Sweats; Everything You Need to Know

Hillary Bennetts

Postpartum Night Sweats; Everything You Need to Know

Table of contents

  • Intro
  • What are Postpartum Night Sweats?
  • Is Postpartum Sweating Common?
  • Are Postpartum Night Sweats Normal?
  • What Happens During Postpartum Night Sweats?
  • What Causes Postpartum Night Sweats?
  • How to Reduce the Discomfort of Postpartum Night Sweats
  • When You Should Contact Your Doctor

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You are exhausted and barely getting enough sleep as it is, and now you are waking up soaked in sweat. What is going on? Postpartum night sweats are a common but rarely talked about aspect of the postpartum journey. These sweats are perfectly normal and part of your body's natural process after childbirth.

In this article, we will explore why postpartum night sweats occur, what you can do to manage them, and how long they typically last.

What are Postpartum Night Sweats?

Postpartum night sweats are just what they sound like - they are when you sweat excessively at night in the weeks following childbirth. 

Postpartum night sweats don’t just involve getting a little warm and sweaty at night. Instead, they cause you to wake up from sleep drenched in sweat. Many women sweat so much that they need to change their clothes and sheets or lay a towel down so that they have a dry spot to sleep. 

Postpartum night sweats can also disrupt sleep, which is particularly frustrating during a time when nighttime sleep is precious.

Is Postpartum Sweating Common?

Despite not being discussed much among postpartum women and their care providers, postpartum night sweats are quite common. Limited research exists on the topic, but one study suggested that over one-third of postpartum women experience night sweats.

Are Postpartum Night Sweats Normal?

Postpartum night sweats are not just common, they are normal. They are a side effect of the hormonal changes that your body is undergoing during the postpartum period. 

What Happens During Postpartum Night Sweats?

Many women don’t realize that they are sweating until they wake up soaked in sweat. Once awake, you will notice that your clothes and bed are wet, and you might feel chilly. 

What Causes Postpartum Night Sweats?

You can typically blame most unpleasant symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum on one thing: Hormones. 

After birth, the high levels of estrogen and progesterone that you had during pregnancy decline rapidly.  These hormonal changes can affect your body temperature and cause you to sweat profusely, especially at night.

How Long Do Postpartum Night Sweats Last?

Postpartum night sweats can start within days of giving birth and tend to resolve on their own by the end of the Fourth Trimester, around 12 weeks postpartum. 

How to Reduce the Discomfort of Postpartum Night Sweats

There is not much you can do to prevent night sweats, but there are small steps you can take to manage the severity and the discomforts that come with them. 

  • Adjust the temperature of your bedroom: Use a fan, open the windows, or lower the thermostat to keep your bedroom cool. Your partner will just have to go along for the ride!
  • Wear loose and breathable pajamas: Loose-fitting natural fabrics tend to be more comfortable than synthetic fabrics. 
  • Keep extra clothes by the bed: Keep an extra pair of pajamas next to your bed to change into so you aren’t digging through drawers in the middle of the night.
  • Put a mattress protector on your bed: If you consistently soak through your sheets, add a mattress protector to keep your mattress clean and dry.
  • Use cooler bedding: Sheets made from cotton percale, bamboo, silk, or linen tend to help you maintain a more comfortable body temperature. Use several light layers to bedding so that you can add or remove them as needed.
  • Sleep with a towel: You can lay a large towel down (a beach towel works well) before you fall asleep, or keep one nearby to lay down if you wake up with wet sheets. This helps you avoid having to change a full set of sheets during the night.
  • Stay hydrated: Hydration is already important during postpartum, especially when you are breastfeeding. Sweating a lot makes hydration even more important. Keep a glass of water on your nightstand, and add in electrolytes specifically designed for pregnancy and postpartum as needed.

Washing and changing sheets and pajamas is a great way for your partner or visitors to help. Make sure they know where any extra sets of sheets are and if there are any special instructions for washing.

When You Should Contact Your Doctor

Postpartum night sweats can be annoying. They interfere with sleep and add to your laundry pile (neither of which you need during the postpartum period). However, the good news is that they are temporary and will eventually stop on their own.

However, if your night sweats suddenly become more severe, or if any of the following symptoms accompany your night sweats, be sure to reach out to your doctor or midwife:

  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Intense itching
  • Pain in the joints or back
  • Weight loss beyond the gradual reduction of pregnancy weight
  • Diarrhea
  • Wheezing
  • Headache
  • A tendency to bruise easily

These symptoms could indicate a condition that requires medical attention. Persistent night sweats (that last beyond the Fourth Trimester) and some of these other symptoms can also be caused by thyroid dysfunction which is common in the postpartum period.

Looking for postpartum support? Check out the postpartum section of the Needed blog and browse Needed’s Postpartum Supplements. They are thoughtfully designed to support your journey through the Fourth Trimester and beyond.

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Hillary Bennetts, Nutritionist

Hillary Bennetts is a nutritionist and business consultant focusing on prenatal and postpartum health. In addition to nutrition consulting, she provides business consulting and content creation for companies in the health and wellness industry. Hillary spent almost a decade in corporate consulting before shifting gears to combine her lifelong passion for health and wellness with her business background and nutrition education.