What are postpartum night sweats?
If you wake up in the middle of the night, hot and drenched in sweat, you're not alone. Whether you delivered your baby vaginally or via C-section, postpartum night sweats are common in the first days and weeks after childbirth. At least 10% of new moms, and as many as one in three, experience postpartum hot flashes.1
These sweat-drenched moments are courtesy of your shifting hormonal levels. In the hours after giving birth, your body's estrogen and progesterone levels decrease dramatically.2 (If you're breastfeeding, estrogen levels will continue to stay low.) One of the side effects of this hormonal drop is an increase in body temperature, which causes night sweats. It's not far off from hot flashes in menopause, which are also caused by similar changes in hormone levels.
How long do postpartum night sweats last—and more importantly, when do postpartum night sweats stop?
The good news is that, as with so many postpartum changes, night sweats will pass in time. As your hormone levels rebalance, the postpartum night sweats will fade and disappear—usually within a few weeks, but they may linger if you're breastfeeding.
How can I treat or prevent postpartum night sweats?
Although you can't entirely prevent postpartum night sweats, you can adjust certain behaviors to minimize their intensity and inconvenience.
- Dress in lightweight, loose, "breathable" clothing.3
- Avoid eating spicy, warming foods before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Drink cooling beverages such as ice water. Not only will this feel refreshing, it will replenish the moisture it loses through sweating.
- Run a fan or air conditioning at night.
Should I tell my doctor about postpartum night sweats?
Postpartum night sweats are very common and typically nothing more than a temporary inconvenience. Still, you may want to mention night sweats at your postpartum checkup, simply to help your doctor get a better picture of your postpartum experience. Call your healthcare provider if your sweats coincide with a fever, breast pain, and/or other symptoms.
Postpartum sweating, especially at night, can be a nuisance—but aside from interrupted sleep and more laundry to do, it's a harmless and temporary one.
Looking for more info on how your postpartum body may change? Here are six things that can happen after you give birth.