After giving birth, your body is recalibrating itself. You’re losing water weight as well as ridding yourself of the bloating you may have had in your hands and feet while pregnant. In other words, you’re going through a process that can help you adjust to the new you.
The whole process lasts for only a few months, but it’s interesting to know what exactly is happening to your body. The most common question mothers have is: why do I sweat while breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is Like Exercising
You’re actually burning between 400 and 500 calories per day during breastfeeding.
Also, if you’re breastfeeding your baby, your body will release a stronger odor through your armpit sweat than normal to help your baby recognize their food source. It’s a natural body response that allows your child to find your breast and starts right after giving birth.
Below, I will explain why you sweat a lot while breastfeeding in detail and answer all common questions. In the end, I will share useful tips on how to deal with excessive sweating while breastfeeding, so let’s dive right into it!
Why Do My Armpits Sweat While Breastfeeding?
Postpartum sweating is a common thing your body does in the first couple of weeks following childbirth, even if you choose not to breastfeed your newborn. However, if you do decide to breastfeed, the closeness of your baby and raised body temperature of nursing can make matters worse.
In fact, nursing usually causes babies to sweat as well, and by knowing what actually causes it, you can prevent unpleasant situations until your body goes back to normal. So first, let’s learn more about postpartum and baby sweating, and then I will share a few tips on how to handle it.
What’s Postpartum Sweating?
When you’re carrying a baby, especially in the last couple of months of your pregnancy, your body sheds water weight because of hormonal changes. Those hormones go back to normal after delivery, and sweat is one of the many ways your body releases excess water.
You will probably urinate more often than usual during pregnancy and after labor. Overall, it’s a normal process and reaction to the changes your body’s going through after pregnancy.
Why do Babies Sweat While Breastfeeding?
Babies sweat while breastfeeding as well! However, it’s because of different reasons than yours. It’s not hormone-induced. Instead, babies likely sweat because they’re warm while nursing. As you already suppose, being skin to skin with your baby raises their temperature, which activates their natural cooling system.
The same happens in adults. However, increased temperature in premature babies increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), heat-associated illnesses, and other health problems, so keep that in mind.
To keep your newborn cool while breastfeeding, place a pillowcase, towel, or cloth nappy between your baby and your arm and body. A damp and cool face-washer in the crook of your arm can be helpful too! I highly suggest lying down to feed because it’s more comfortable for both newborns and mothers.
How to Cope With Postpartum Sweating and Postpartum Night Sweats
Although postpartum sweating isn’t preventable because it’s a natural process, nursing usually worsens the issue since you’re already hot. Therefore, I highly suggest that you breastfeed in cool and well-ventilated rooms whenever possible to deal with it.
Additionally, wear loose-fitting clothes made of natural fiber to ensure better airflow and comfortability. These tips can help with postpartum night sweats.
If you’re okay with the idea, try and nurse without a blanket or cover to keep yourself and your newborn cool. Lastly, keep drinking water to remain well-hydrated.
As I already said, postpartum sweating isn’t something unusual. However, in some cases, it can indicate a medical issue.
Sweating usually lasts longer in mothers who are breastfeeding, but your body should be back to normal by your 6-week postpartum checkup.
If you keep on sweating or if it is followed by a fever, you could be unwell. In this case, I suggest that you see your healthcare provider. Excess sweat is sometimes a signal of thyroid issues. Thus, state the condition during your checkup to ensure that you’re healthy.
Is it Normal to Sweat During Breastfeeding?
It’s completely normal to sweat during breastfeeding but the main reason why you can experience odor while breastfeeding is pretty interesting. You see, when a mother nurses, hormones step in and excrete pheromones that will draw her newborn baby in to feed.
The pile-up of all these things is increased sweat and a stronger or unusual smell of your baby’s saliva and any dated breast milk that may have stained your shirt and soured without you knowing.
I know that a stronger odor while nursing can be unpleasant. However, now you know that evolutionary reasons stand behind it, so you will probably feel a lot better!
Another interesting thing is that although newborns have limited eyesight and heating, they have a very developed sense of smell which helps them recognize you.
Do Newborns Know Their Moms’ Smell?
Not only do newborn babies know their moms’ smell, which releases from their chest and armpits, but they’re also drawn by it. So, you shouldn’t worry about the strong odor while breastfeeding because it’s beneficial as it turns your baby’s head towards your breasts and can help to motivate them to eat.
However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid showering or taking a bath for fear of removing the odor or confusing your newborn. Still, it’s helpful to realize that this change in odor originates in logic – mother nature is super smart, isn’t she?
What If You’re Feeling Self-Conscious About Excess Sweating?
As much as I say that postpartum sweating, postpartum night sweats, and strong odors aren’t uncommon, I know that you will still feel self-conscious about it like any normal person would.
My last advice is to remember that what your body is going through is for justifiable reasons. Also, keep in mind that although you and your baby have a more developed sense of smell during this period, others don’t.
Meaning they won’t be able to detect your odor easily. So, as long as you practice good and continuous hygiene, you’re likely the only person who can actually notice your stronger body odor.
How Long Does Postpartum Sweating Last?
Many mothers sweat excessively after giving birth in the following weeks, especially while breastfeeding and at night.
And since kidneys eliminate most of the water, they will also be urinating more than normal in the first week or so after they give birth. Everything usually lasts for a few weeks.
The emotional distress of becoming a mother can also make women sweat as well. And although no one knows for sure, it’s likely that the high drop in estrogen immediately after delivery also plays a huge part in postpartum sweating. If you’re nursing, you can continue to sweat excessively for months.
What Can You Do About it?
First of all, you should drink lots of water as well as other non-alcoholic drinks to keep yourself hydrated and speed up the process of removing extra fluid from your sweat glands.
Don’t think that drinking fewer fluids will help you sweat less because you will only end up disappointed and dehydrated. And still sweaty!
Additionally, you should wear lightweight cotton clothes that will keep you cool and comfortable. Avoid synthetic materials while breastfeeding because they will make you sweat even more. If you sweat a lot at night, try taking a cool shower before bed and placing a towel over your pillow.
Final Thoughts on Postpartum Sweating
Overall, new moms have so many things to sweat about (pun intended), but body odor shouldn’t be one of those things because it’s normal (unless followed by a fever – in this case, you should talk to your doctor). Also, note that after pregnancy, your sense of smell strengthens.
Meaning you probably detect odors twice as strong as other people, so you shouldn’t worry about them at all. Just keep up good hygiene, wear lightweight clothes, change them often, and you will be fine! Another piece of advice I have for you is to try milk of magnesia which acts as a good deodorant.
You can either apply it with soaked cotton wool or whatever works for you. It doesn’t soak into your skin but performs as a natural deodorant by counteracting the odor caused by bacteria in your sweat.
Sweating while breastfeeding feels uncomfortable, but don’t let it take away from this important bonding period with your baby. Trust me, one day, you will look back very fondly on this period.
In My Opinion
There’s no greater honor than being a mother and discovering the natural powers of your body and how it helps your newborn baby to survive. So whenever you’re feeling self-conscious about your underarm sweat, just wear deodorant, and don’t forget how powerful you really are!
If you have any tips that you would like to share with other mothers, drop a comment below, and let’s chat about motherhood!