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Pregnancy Night Sweats

Apr29

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesDear Amalah,

I’m pregnant, and actually just a few weeks behind you, which has actually been really cool. Plus the pregnancy calendar! Hugely helpful! But now I’m just about 30 weeks along and I have a new symptom that I could really use a little practical advice about.

I’m so SWEATY. At night, mostly, and it started before the weather started warming up so I know it’s probably hormone related…though now that it IS actually getting warmer at night I am waking up in a literal pool of sweat. Absolutely drenched. It’s gross and it’s uncomfortable and it’s actually messing with my sleep. Which I value HIGHLY right now, since I know I won’t be getting much in just a few more weeks. Short of blasting the air conditioning at night (which actually isn’t even an option yet, since I live in a condo building where the A/C won’t get switched on for at least another month), do you have any advice on staying dry (or drier) and comfortable in the third trimester?

Sign me,
Even My Boobs Are Sweating

Oh my God, THIS. This this this. Right now, exactly how you describe it, is totally happening to me. It’s like a switch was flipped as soon as I hit the third trimester and I started sweating at night like you would not believe. The first time it happened I actually thought MY WATER HAD BROKEN. I was seriously THAT WET.

I’ve written about the hormonally-charged “breastfeeding sweats” before, but yes, the “pregnancy sweats” also totally exist. They are mostly hormonal, of course…though partly just plain physical. Your body’s blood volume increases by 25 to 40 percent, and blood is a pretty warm substance, as these things go. Some women see a natural rise in body temperature — I usually register on the cold side on thermometers, like 97.8, but it’s now more common for me to see something like 99 degrees come up when I take my temperature. Plus the weight and warmth of the baby, fluid, placenta, maternal fat stores and all the other things going on in your abdomen, it’s no surprise that pregnant women often feel like walking hot water bottles.

Here’s how I’ve been combatting the night sweats, though. And any extra suggestions from you been-there-done-that types are more than welcome in the comments.

1) Apply deodorant to all pulse points before bed. I use Dove Clinical Strength, and I swipe not only my underarms before bed, I include the inside of my elbows, my wrists, behind my knees, and most definitely my cleavage. It definitely makes a difference.

2) Take a cool shower or bath. Emphasis on cool. While I don’t usually start sweating until later in the night, after I’ve been sleeping for awhile, cooling my body down as much as possible before bed helps.

3) Surround yourself with lightweight, breathable materials. Check your pajamas, sheets, blankets and (if you use one) body pillow for synthetic fibers. If you’re wearing or sleeping on polyester or other unnatural fibers, you’re more likely to trap and retain all that heat against your body, provoking more sweat. 100% cotton is totally the way to go. My current lineup consists of nothing but a pair of cotton boyshorts, a mens’ cotton undershirt and one single cotton sheet.

My night sweats also started BEFORE it got particularly warm so I struggled to keep a balance between staying warm in the beginning of the night and cool mid-way through — I raided my husband’s stash of moisture-wicking ski wear (results were mixed; cotton was still better) and replaced a fleecy microfiber blanket on our bed with a cotton one and just resigned myself to kicking things off throughout the night.

4) Keep ice water nearby. I always keep a big old cup of water on my nightstand because I ALWAYS wake up parched, but once the sweating happened I switched out the regular semi-cold tap water and filled the cup (I’m talking the 30-ounce lidded variety I stole from the hospital after Ezra’s birth) with as much ice as I could. So when I do wake up and feel my body temperature creeping up, I at least have still-cold water nearby to help cool down.

5) If you have long hair, braid it. Having my hair down and loose absolutely makes me sweat more, especially about my neck and forehead. But! Ponytails are BAAAAD for your hair at night, so go for a French braid or just a long loose braid with a gentle fastener at the very end. If you have bangs, pin them back or wear a stretchy headband. (I also use a powdered dry shampoo all along my hairline, all the way around to the back of my neck — particularly this one spot behind my ears that seems to be especially soaked and matted in the morning.)

6) Buy a damn fan, point it at your side of the bed. Open windows, turn thermostat way down, whatever you can do to make your environment as cool as possible. Yes, the night sweats are coming from something hormonal inside your body, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit there while your spouse insists on keeping everything a toasty 70 degrees in APRIL.

7) Avoid spicy foods, caffeine and (duh) alcohol before bed. These can provoke night sweats even in non-pregnant folk, so if you’re like me and crave the chocolate and the spicy stuff, be aware you might be paying for them in a way you never realized.

8 ) Skip the body lotions and oils. Particularly if you’re using ones with a lot of fragrance or unpronounceable ingredients that might be leaving residue on your skin’s surface. I swapped my nightly body moisturizer for nice skin-softening things that I can use in the tub (like LUSH bath bombs) while taking my cool-down bath. Then I turn on the shower head at the end and rinse off for good measure. If you’re bothered by dry or itchy skin, use products in the morning (though bathing in cool water should also help with that, too).

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If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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14 Responses to “Pregnancy Night Sweats”

  1. thisistami Apr 29 at 10:55 am Reply Reply

    i would like to add item #9 – keep a change of clothing near the bed so you can strip off all the sweaty items and put some dry clothing on and go back to sleep. also, a wet washcloth near the bed is handy as well to wipe yourself down.

    im not pregnant (i dont think!) but i get the sweats around my period as well, so i am well experienced with this.

    congrats on the upcoming addition to your family!

  2. kari Weber Apr 29 at 11:22 am Reply Reply

    The first time this ever happened to me, it was MY HUSBAND that woke me up thinking something was wrong with me! We sleep in a Queen size bed, so not too much room between us, I was sweating so much, HE was soaked!  We have a ceiling fan I turn on (it is more over my side of the bed anyway) and TOTALLY second the ice water by the bed thing.  I also add to that– use a straw! Nothing like trying to pick up a heavy cup of ice water at night with sweaty hands and dropping it all over your side table and floor to really kill a good night of sleep.  Also, there are cooling foot creams (I think I got a nice mint one at The Body Shop when I was preggo) that I use right after the cool bath.  I have found that if my feet are nice and cool, so is the rest of me.  So if you don’t feel like totally getting in the bath, do a nice long COLD foot soak before bed.  Not only does it feel good on tired swollen pregnant feet, but it cools your whole body down as well! And one thing my mom told me that she used to do (she was pregnant with a September-due baby right during one of the worst Summer heat waves we ever had…) she kept a spray bottle by the side of her bed that had a really nice misting tip on it. If things got really bad she would spray it int he air above her and let it mist down over her body.  It is really refreshing.

  3. Trish Apr 29 at 11:41 am Reply Reply

    I second the cool foot soaks. Last time around, I was in the late second and early third trimesters in the summer, and my foot soaks featured ice. I’d soak them all evening.

    I find I don’t mind the sweats so much until I wake up wet and cold. Cotton is very breathable, but it takes a while to dry. Microfiber designed to wick can be very effective.

    My OB/GYN recommended the wicking PJs they make for menopausal women. Yeah, I’m too cheap to buy those. But I had a bath-sized Aquis towel and it really helped to put that under me when I was sleeping.

  4. Trish Apr 29 at 11:41 am Reply Reply

    I second the cool foot soaks. Last time around, I was in the late second and early third trimesters in the summer, and my foot soaks featured ice. I’d soak them all evening.

    I find I don’t mind the sweats so much until I wake up wet and cold. Cotton is very breathable, but it takes a while to dry. Microfiber designed to wick can be very effective.

    My OB/GYN recommended the wicking PJs they make for menopausal women. Yeah, I’m too cheap to buy those. But I had a bath-sized Aquis towel and it really helped to put that under me when I was sleeping.

  5. Eden Apr 29 at 1:27 pm Reply Reply

    Oh man, do I know how you feel. The weather was in the low 80’s and one night it all started. I was sleeping butt naked, with no covers, house temp was set to usual 77 degrees, and I woke up SOAKED. I mean hair on my head was soaking wet! I created a new house rule that the temp. gets DROPPED when I go to bed! Lowering the AC to 76 at night does it for me!

  6. Amy Apr 29 at 2:41 pm Reply Reply

    I had these during both my pregnancies and just as a warning, they got WORSE after delivery. I guess it was the hormones going in the other direction. I’d soak through clothes. I feel your pain, and FYI, it may not be over for several months to come.

  7. Jill Apr 29 at 8:42 pm Reply Reply

    I have only experienced the postpartum night sweats, but one thing I did last time around that I found helped was to sleep on top of a towel so I could just change it out when I woke up in a pool of sweat. Much better than sweaty sheets all night.

  8. JEn Apr 29 at 9:46 pm Reply Reply

    Mine were all post-delivery as well. To the point that I thought my son who had crawled into bed had an accident. I agree with posters – change of clothing next to bed and I couldn’t fall asleep on a towel, but I do have one next to the bed so I can put it on my ‘spot’ if I wake up and then have no problem falling back asleep on it.

    Just a note…after my second baby, I had MAJOR night sweats…and now I am in my first trimester and AGAIN experiencing them. It seems they must be different for everyone. Weirdest thing is it seems as though the smell is hard to get out of t-shirts (weird sweat smell, not bo) so wear cruddy ones to bed!

  9. Sarahmia Apr 30 at 4:10 am Reply Reply

    I’m not and never have been pregnant – but I do get hot at night and often wake up sweating (oh yes, the cleavage. Like a magnet for sweat) so my friend bought me a Chillow. I’m from the UK but I presuming you can get an equivalent in the US (www.chillow.co.uk) – it’s basically a cooling gel pillow that takes the heat from you so you stay cool. I used to use it under my feet because they’re always the hottest part of me and it helped, A LOT.
    The best part is it’s totally reusable every night and isn’t wet like a washcloth. Score. 
    (I don’t work for Chillow or anything, I just really liked it). The other thing I would suggest is those ‘cool down’ sprays (we have one here called Magi-Cool) which come in aerosol cans and are designed specifically to be refreshing. You might want to double check the ingredients on that tho, in case it’s not compatible with pregnancy. 
    Hope that helps! :)

  10. Suzy Q Apr 30 at 12:12 pm Reply Reply

    I second the recommendation for the Chillow. I am a surgically menopausal woman, and holy crap, the hot flashes! The Chillow is something of a bit of magic. It’s just basically a plastic sleeve with foam inside and you fill it with water but somehow it really works! No need to put it in the fridge or anything. I even took it for show-and-tell to my GYN. She loved it!

    I can’t understand how you live in a building where you cannot individually control your A/C. Mine is never set above
    72 in the day and about 65 at night. Florida is brutal. Yes, I pay through the nose for power, but I NEED it.

  11. Bethany Apr 30 at 2:13 pm Reply Reply

    My family called me Madam Hot Flash for the first fewweeks after my son was born. Holy hell, was I hot and cold! Now my problem seems to be that I can’t find a deodorant that works. I tried the Clinical Strength ones like the directions said. I used it before bed, but by the middle of the afternoon, I was a smelly mess. I tried to use it in the morning instead and I didn’t smell as bad, but I had crazy pit stains from sweating. Now I just buy whatever is on sale and keep applying throughout the day. A pain, but at least I don’t smell. (I don’t think…….)

  12. Emily May 02 at 9:06 am Reply Reply

    I kept our house so cold my husband felt like it was winter during the summer. In L&D, I was so hot and he had a blanket wrapped around him. That must have been after the baby arrived, I guess. Cause he didn’t get to sit during labor. I remember his relief as I started to get cold afterwards and asking him to adjust the room’s temperature.

  13. Kylee May 02 at 1:35 pm Reply Reply

    I am on my second pregnancy and thankfully haven’t had this problem, but I have heard of some sheets that are like the dry-fit fabric that wick sweat and are marketed towards menopausal women and chemo patients for this very ailment. One of the brands I found was “OhSheetImHot”. Looks like they have a website and a FB profile….hope that helps! 

  14. Laura May 04 at 8:46 am Reply Reply

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