Our bodies go through a lot of changes after having a baby, and one of the changes that drove me crazy was the postpartum hot flashes.
Not only did I experience postpartum night sweats, but I would have random hot flashes throughout the day. One minute, I was binging Netflix with a baby stuck to my boob, and the next moment, I felt like I was on fire.
That’s not all the postpartum recovery period brings to us.
Mothers experience other symptoms like mood changes, hair loss, and fatigue, as if we don’t have enough to handle after childbirth!
If you’re wondering what causes your postpartum hot flashes and how long these sweats might last, keep reading!
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What are Postpartum Hot Flashes?
Postpartum hot flashes, sometimes called hot flushes, come on without warning and makes you feel as if you’re hot all of a sudden. You might experience heat sensations on your face, shoulders, neck, and chest, leading to sweating profusely.
Don’t be surprised if you also have redness on your fast and chest.
After the hot flash, some women experience chills, so you feel both hot and cold in a short period, all while more than likely being in the same spot. Many women experience these hot flushes at night, so they’re often called night sweats.
The Symptoms of Postpartum Hot Flashes
You might notice more than just periods of hotness; hot flushes lead to other unpleasant yet accompanying symptoms.
Here are a few that you might notice!
- Trouble sleeping
- Increase body odor
- Frequent wakings at night
- Feeling dehydrated
What Causes Postpartum Hot Flashes?
Hot flushes during your postpartum period are caused by hormonal changes. During pregnancy, your progesterone and estrogen levels dramatically increase, but as soon as your baby is born, those levels plummet.
It takes several weeks for your body to adjust and figure out how to get back to pre-pregnancy hormone levels. All of the fluctuations cause the postpartum hot flashes.
During the weeks after childbirth, your body experiences low estrogen levels because your body is not ovulating. At the same time, your ovaries are not yet producing more estrogen, and this affects an area of your brain known as the thermoregulatory zone.
What does that mean?
Your body doesn’t actually increase in temperature. Instead, your brain has a smaller window of tolerable, comfortable temperatures, leading to hot flashes.
Other factors increase your chances of having postpartum hot flashes, such as:
- Young maternal age
How Common Are Postpartum Night Sweats?
It’s quite common to experience hot flashes at night. Most associate this with a sign of menopause, but the hormonal changes caused by pregnancy leads to night sweats as well.
Studies show that around 30% of women experience hot flashes after pregnancy, so you’re in good company!
How Long Do Postpartum Hot Flashes Last?
I know when I had postpartum night sweats, all I wanted to know is when the heck were they going to be done.
Most women report that their hot flashes lasts for about six weeks or longer, which is the classic postpartum period. However, since it takes up to a few months for your body’s hormones to adjust and regular ovulation to return, it’s possible for the hot flashes to last longer.
Hot flashes are the worst between the second and third week after childbirth, and then they typically decline.
Even though my period took quite a while to return because of breastfeeding, my night sweats only lasted for a few weeks after childbirth.
Does Breastfeeding Raise Body Temperature?
Some women wonder if they’re going to still have postpartum hot flashes if they’re not breastfeeding. While it’s true that breastfeeding increases your body temperature, it’s not enough to cause such frequent night sweats.
Breastfeeding causes your body to produce more prolactin levels, and when this happens, your body temperatures increase by half a degree. This factor contributes to hot flashes, and lactation tends to delay ovulation.
The longer ovulation is delayed, the longer hot flashes may last, but that isn’t true for all women. Every women is different when it comes to their hormones and how their body responds.
How to Deal with Postpartum Hot Flashes
It’s nice to know that postpartum hot flashes eventually go away as your hormone levels regulate. However, until they go away naturally, you have to deal with night sweats.
Here are a few things you can do.
A fan is one of the best things to have is a personal fan and air conditioner. One or the other works, but if you have both, it’s even better. Keep a fan on you at night and try moisture-wicking bedsheets.
Wear Loose Fabrics
Wearing natural fabrics, such as cotton and linen, allow your body’s heat to escape. That’s why it’s also best to sleep on cotton or linen sheets.
You also might want to sleep on a cotton towel!
Synthetic fabrics hold in your body heat and cause you sweat more. That’s why a lot of athletic wear is made with synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and Lycra.
Postpartum moms need to stay well-hydrated, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Sweating causes you to lose bodily fluids, and you might start to feel lethargic, a sign that you’re dehydrated.
If you’re breastfeeding, staying hydrated also keeps your supply in place and avoid a rapid loss of milk.
Don’t Eat Trigger Foods
Some foods are more likely to worsen the symptoms of hot flashes. Take notes if you realize a few of these foods lead to more night sweats than before. If so, avoid them.
Common triggers include:
- Spicy foods
- Hot foods
Work on Your Sleep
Having a newborn greatly decreases the amount of sleep you’ll get, but not having sufficient sleep also may trigger night sweats.
The best thing you can do is in the weeks following childbirth is to focus on getting as much sleep as possible and improving your quality of sleep. For example, bedtime yoga – gentle – helps improve sleep quality, and turning off any electronics 30 minutes to 1 hour before bed also helps with your quality of sleep.
Another trigger for postpartum hot flashes is stress. It’s normal to be stressed in the weeks after having a baby, but working on some simple relaxation techniques may be enough to bring down your stress levels to a normal level.
Try breathing exercises, meditating, gentle yoga, or mindfulness. Massages and taking warm showers helps, and some say aromatherapy helps reduce their stress.
Should I Be Concerned about Postpartum Night Sweats?
Typically, hot flashes and night sweats go away naturally as your hormones get back to pre-pregnancy levels. However some signs indicate that you should talk to your doctor to make sure it’s not indicating an issue.
Watch for these symptoms.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chest pain
- Persistent headaches
- shortness of breath
- Lump in breasts
- Uterine pain
- Foul smelling vaginal discharge
- Pain while urinating
- Loss of appetite
- Emotional problems
Don’t be surprised if you experience postpartum hot flashes; over 30% of women have the same symptoms after childbirth. It goes away after a few weeks, but try to stay hydrated and cool in the first few weeks after giving birth.