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The Breastfeeding Sweats

The Breastfeeding Sweats!

By Amalah

Hi Amy! First off – congratulations on pregnancy #3!

My question is about antiperspirant, the “clinical strength” stuff. The label says to apply at night … should I also be applying it in the morning? If I put it on at night and then shower in the morning, won’t it wash away? I have tried both applying antiperspirant at night only and after my shower in the morning, and either way I sweat. I am just a sweaty girl, plus I’m breastfeeding which means even MORE sweat than usual. Suggestions/ideas? I have tried several brands and still … drops of sweat rolling down my arms in even the gentlest hatha yoga class, and basically anytime I wear synthetic materials, or clothing that is remotely fitted around my armpits. That is a sexy image, I know. Any suggestions you or readers can provide would be greatly appreciated:)

Thank you!

Aw, deodorant! It’s been such a long time since we talked about it, and even longer since the last time I lined a scary number of them up on my bathroom counter and acted out an impromptu soap opera with them. (What? IT WAS FUNNY.)

Okay, so…the official instruction for clinical strength deodorant is to apply it at night only. No morning application is (technically, for most users) necessary. This stuff doesn’t work because it creates a barrier on the surface of the skin that can be washed away — your pits actually absorb it and it works from the inside out to keep sweat and odor at bay for many, many hours. It’s prescription-strength stuff, rebranded and available over-the-counter.

Personally, though…I ALWAYS forget to apply it at night. ALWAYS. 20-plus years of that morning swipe-swipe ritual have just been too hard to break. So I apply it in the morning, most of the time. And it works fine. So I’m not sure it makes a huge amount of difference, though it might depend entirely on you and your individual body chemistry. I like the idea of the nighttime application from a clothing standpoint — no more waiting for the residue to dry! No more white streaks on your clothes! But I just simply don’t remember to do it before bed at least 75% of the time. Perhaps I should give in to senility and tape a checklist to the bathroom mirror. 1) BRUSH TEETH. 2) APPLY DEODORANT. 3) DON’T LOOK TOO CLOSELY AT YOUR PORES, FOR IT WILL ONLY MAKE YOU CRY.

I would not say I am an especially extra sweaty person — regular deodorants usually worked pretty okay for me, provided I like, stayed inside and never did anything physically strenuous. Like working out or trudge around the National Zoo pushing a stroller. That’s when things got unpredictable, damp and (worst of all) smelly. Pit stains are bad enough…B.O. is something I simply will not put up with, especially a mere six hours after showering! So I got sick of constantly worrying that my deodorant would fail me halfway through the day if the weather warmed up a bit or I needed to carry the baby in the Ergo for a few extra blocks than expected.

I like the Dove Clinical the best, and found that it does take some time for the full effects to really kick in. A few weeks, I’d say. I’ve been using it steadily for about two years now and can’t even remember the last time I thought about the state of my pits during the day. Oh wait, yes I can. The time I ran out of the clinical stuff and had to use one of those silly deodorants with the crazy labels I’d bought simply for blog-amusement purposes. It did not work. AT ALL. RAGE.

And seriously: breastfeeding and excessive sweating. OMG, I know. I was like an oven. A very dewy, moist oven. I definitely remembered to apply deodorant before bed when I was nursing — on my pits and behind my knees and in the crook of my arm — because otherwise I’d wake up in a sweaty puddle. Sexy, indeed. Most women experience excessive sweating for at least a few weeks postpartum, and women who breastfeed notice it longer. I don’t know how far postpartum you are, but there’s a chance you’ll notice a gradual improvement with time. In the meantime, continue to stay hydrated and try try try to avoid synthetic fabrics whenever possible — they will always, ALWAYS make things worse. I found spritzing myself with a body spray helped a lot when I was in the thick of the postpartum sweats…or at least made me feel a little better about my perpetually dewy state.

(Oh, and before anyone mentions the concerns about aluminum in deodorant [the research on this, for the record, is extremely contradictory and all over the place] and those natural alternatives: I’ve tried them. Believe me. I tried tons of them. I wanted to like them. I’m usually more than happy to cut out even slightly questionable ingredients from my health and beauty products just to be on the safe side…provided I can find a reasonable substitute that works just as well. In this case, I couldn’t find ANYTHING that even worked at ALL for me personally. Tom’s, Crystal, Jason, even some crazy expensive thing at Sephora that thankfully I tried in a sample size first…I have no doubt these work GREAT for some people, and I am jealous of your luck. But for me, it’s gotta be two-clicks and one swipe per pit of the heavy-duty stuff.)

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


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 Ama...

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 [email protected].

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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  • Christine

    November 17, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    I have had the best luck with the Dove Clinical that Amy already mentioned (It didn’t matter day or night for me either).  But… I’ve had even better luck with Secret Waterproof than the clinical strength stuff.  Really, it is waterproof, so it sticks around really well once you start sweating like crazy.  I wore this stuff swimming on vacation and didn’t need to reapply for the rest of the day afterwards, despite the tropical heat and humidity.

  • Liz

    November 17, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I have no opinions on deoderants, but can I just say Amalah that one of the first times I visited your blog was when you were doing the deoderant soap opera. I thought, “This is really strange.” I’m sure glad I came back because you are now in my top 2 favorite bloggers (I can’t choose between you and Girl’s Gone Child, and I don’t think I should have to because you’re totally different bloggers, okay??!!) Anyways, thanks for the reminder.

  • Rachel

    November 17, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Breastfeeding makes you sweat more? Crap. I’m screwed. I already sweat a lot even without adding in pregnancy/breastfeeding/etc. That being said, I use Dove Ultimate, and apply a little bit at night to combat nighttime stinkiness and again in the morning. Seems to work pretty well for me besides when I’m working out when absolutely nothing will prevent major, major sweat. In college I tried a few of the clinical strength deodorants, but I never noticed much difference besides my bank account dwindling faster. Also, I heard somewhere that using the same brand all the time can cause your body to get used to it and it becomes less effective, so you should change up the types of brands you buy. I really don’t know if it’s true or not though.

  • Kerry

    November 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Omg, you must try Certain Dri! I haven’t seen in mentioned yet, so I don’t know if others have tried it, but it really works. You really do have to apply it the night before to clean skin, and God FORBID you apply it right after shaving- holy crap, so painful. Also, make sure you wear an old t-shirt after application. This product slightly bleached some of my clothes. After putting it on two nights in a row I didn’t even need to wear deodorant during the day. I stayed really dry.

  • Kerry

    November 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Omg, you must try Certain Dri! I haven’t seen it mentioned here yet, so I don’t know if others have tried it, but it really works. You really do have to apply it the night before to clean skin, and God FORBID you apply it right after shaving- holy crap, so painful. Also, make sure you wear an old t-shirt after application. This product slightly bleached some of my clothes. After putting it on two nights in a row I didn’t even need to wear deodorant during the day. I stayed really dry.

  • Alanna

    November 17, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    See, the clinical stuff never even worked particularly well for me either. I was using prescription deodorant in middle school and high school (and then hit college and cared less and then the prescription strength stuff came out). And none of it worked particularly well in terms of cutting down on sweat. BO was never particularly bad, and honestly, I carry a little thing of baby powder around with me and that does the most good during the day, once I am already sweaty. So basically I gave up on the clinical strength stuff and switched to one of the crystal deodorants because all it was helping was to prevent me from smelling. It did not ever ever ever, even when I applied it at night, stop me from sweating. I have just adapted to buying clothes that don’t show pit stains and caring a lot less about it. And if the evidence is contradictory and the maybe dangerous stuff doesn’t do anything, why not switch to something that is definitely safe that will also not do anything. The weird thing is that I am not a warm person, I am the person who is cold all the time, and yet, super sweaty. Worst of both worlds. I really hope it doesn’t get worse when I’m breastfeeding though because I’m not sure how it could get worse.

  • Emily

    November 18, 2010 at 8:24 am

    okay, so no one ever told me sweating was a postpartum thing. I just found out.. .now! I thought that I was sweating because we were keeping the house warmer (like 2 degrees) for the baby to sleep in. And I would get so cold after waking up in a pool of sweat.

  • crabbyappleseed

    November 18, 2010 at 9:25 am

    I second Certain Dri- ALL of the advice about it. especially the part about not applying it right after you shave. Your armpits will actually burst into flames and you will die. But otherwise, it is awesome. I had huge sweat issues in high school, and it was the ONLY thing that ever, ever kept me from pitting out. Now that I’m older, I don’t need it as much, but it was a godsend when I did need it. (I didn’t have all-day-sweats when I was nursing. just hideous night sweats that soaked thru my pajamas and, occasionally, the sheets. awesome.)

  • Erin

    November 18, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Yes, I’m with Kerry on the Certain Dri! I only needed to put it on every other (or every 3rd) night and it pretty much dried up my sweat glands. I’m sure there are quite a few chemicals that make this happen, but…. no more sweat!

  • CS

    November 18, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Most will probably not feel as I do, but I wanted to offer another perspective. I have made the same progression as Alanna–I’ve left the struggle behind and have accepted that I sweat. A lot. More than other people. In my bar workout class, I am surrounded by delicate flowers who don’t break a sweat, and it’s rolling off me in buckets. I read something recently that people who sweat more during exercise are “efficient coolers”–their bodies are better at keeping their core cooler. Hey, I’ll take that! I might feel differently if I had a job that necessitated my wearing nice clothing, but I run around a lot, wear casual clothes, use a crystal deodorant, avoid the extra chemicals in deodorant, and it’s working fine for me. I made it through the sweaty experience of breastfeeding my three kids, too.

  • Damaris @Kitchen Corners

    November 18, 2010 at 10:28 am

    And this is why I love the blogging community. Seriously, why hasn’t anyone posted about breastfeeding sweats before? I sweat so much, sometimes I wake up in a pool of sweat and have to sleep on top pf a towel. It’s nasty.

  • Susan

    November 18, 2010 at 10:49 am

    This is a timely question. I’ve just been wondering about the clinical-strength deoderants. So, for those who use them, can you tell me if you really need to apply two clicks worth per arm? That seems like a LOT of deoderant. I’ve been using less than one click per arm because it seemed so excessive. Will I get better results with two clicks?

  • IrishCream

    November 18, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I don’t have any special deodorant insights, but
    here’s a tip I figured out the hard way: DO NOT shave your armpits immediately prior to doing a 24-hour dance marathon. You will be so, so sorry.

  • shan

    November 18, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I third (?) the Certain-Dri recommendation. None of the Clinical Strength deals worked for me AT ALL, and upon closer inspection of the labels, most of them don’t contain any more aluminum than the ‘regular’ stuff (but charge $3-5 more, WTF??). There is scientific proof out there somewhere that shows that applying it at night makes a difference, buit again, only Certain Dri ahas worked for me. Yes, t’s uncomfortable….particularly right after shaving (PLEASE DON’T DO THIS….learn from our mistakes!) and can make your pits itchy and somewhat irritated. However, once your body kind of adpats to it and you don’t have to use it every night? It goes away and you’re golden. Plus, it’s relatively cheap (here in Canada anyway), and if it’s not on the shelf, you can usually just ask the pharmacist and they have a stash in the back.

    • Laurel

      November 13, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      But is Certain Dri ok when breastfeeding?

  • Stephaie

    November 18, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Tom’s deodorant is horrible. I bought it because I was worried about phlalates or something while I was pregnant, but it was so horrible, I stopped using it after the second day. I use Dove regular and it works great for me, but I’m no longer breastfeeding, so the sweatiness has stopped.

  • Beth

    November 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I, too, LOVE Certain-Dri. I use the solid as the roll-on felt worse than a sweaty armpit. I never noticed a difference for using it am or pm, but did notice that overall I felt much better off. In my area, MI, it’s about $5 for a stick so not too bad.

  • Suzy Q

    November 18, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Another Certain Dri-er here. Those “clinical” ones just didn’t do the job for me. I also put on regular deodorant in the morning, just to take care of any potential extra stinkiness.

  • Michelle

    November 18, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I miss the deoderant soap operas – those were hysterical! And the bottles ones too. You should do some more :o)

  • eva

    November 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Wow thanks for answering this Amy!  And thanks to the commenters – my next purchase will be certain dri.  Secret Clinical IS starting to work though, after about two weeks of nighttime and occasional morning-time use.  I just have to put up with my paranoid husband’s constant anti-aluminum hogwash.  Sigh.  Thanks again!

  • Olivia

    November 18, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I don’t have anything to add about deodorant. This is totally off topic, but are POC ever considered for the pictures that go with the posts? It’s probably not even Amalah’s choice, but this is the only contributor I read and it’s been bugging me for a while.

    Isabel: Thanks for your feedback on the pictures. Yes, diversity is considered. But we could do a better job.

  • eva

    November 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    ps – I am 7.5 weeks postpartum with my second kid…the night sweats never really went away after my first until I was pregnant, then of course, they have come back with a vengeance since the birth of #2.  Ah, motherhood.  

    And I am with Olivia  – let’s see some diversity in the photos, which I doubt are your choice Amy, but maybe you can pull some strings?!

    Isabel: Thanks for your feedback Eva. No need to pull strings. Your comments here are enough and you can always just send an email or use the Contact Us form. I read them all. 🙂

  • JenVegas

    November 18, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    12 days from my due date and I am JUST finding out now that I’m about to be an even sweatier mess than I normally am? Dang. Man, I’ve taken 2 classes about birthing and parenting…I guess I should have taken the one on breastfeeding and maybe THEN someone would have mentioned this.
    Thank you.

  • Jo

    November 19, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Can I request that Amy takes a picture of herself re-enacting the question for the photo that goes with the post? I think this is the way forward.

  • Sara M

    November 19, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I use and LOVE the Secret clinical strength. I have been using for about a year. I too always forget to put it on at night, but the morning works for me. I usually don’t sweat a lot, but get stinky very fast. This has helped! Even when I am working out and sweating, the stinkiness is not nearly as bad as what it used to be.

  • Kate

    November 19, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I’ve had the most luck combining Certain Dri (applied most evenings) with Mitchum applied in the mornings. Certain Dri definitely made a difference for me, but it wasn’t enough. If I also use Mitchum in the mornings, I’ve pretty much eliminated underarm sweat. (Doesn’t solve the under-the-boobs issue, but whatever).

    The key with the Mitchum, though is that you have to use the men’s variatey (I use the unscented gel variety). The women’s doesn’t have the same active ingrediant. Grrr…

  • Jay

    November 19, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    I’ve never tried Certain Dri or the clinical ones, but I swear by Maxim. I order it online and each bottle lasts me at least a year. At first I applied it every night (at night, always, so it can absorb) and I’d still apply my regular Secret after my morning shower. After a couple weeks, I used Maxim every other day. Now, several years later, I only have to apply it once every other week or so. If I notice I’m getting drippy (I never had a smell problem, just a wetness problem), then I remember I need to use it a little more regularly.

    Honestly, I have no idea how I could have just “gotten over” my sweating problem. I was so uncomfortable being wet, not to mention cold, and I hated that if someone wanted to hug me they’d probably feel how damp I was. I honestly feel like Maxim gave me freedom after years, YEARS of being self-conscious and avoiding certain clothes.

  • JanM

    November 19, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH just for mentioning this issue. The post-birth sweatiness is not talked about at all. I was totally unprepared. 

  • stacy

    November 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I sweat like a crazy lady when I was breastfeeding — but I guess I was too tired to care!!! heh!

  • Krista

    November 29, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Amy- Just had to check in with a HUGE thank you! My regular deodorant hadn’t been cutting it and I didn’t even know clinical strength stuff was on the market (duh). I picked up some Dove just before I cruised to Mexico for Thanksgiving (think 85 degrees with 80% humidity) and it worked great! I hiked and ziplined all over Vallarta and didn’t stink at the end of the day. Yes!

  • AmberMcN

    December 3, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Oh dear. It’s not just breastfeeding. I bottle feed and it was a feed & sweat session every time. I hid in the bedroom whilst I bottlefed because I knew I was going to have to change my shirt afterwards… and it wasn’t just the pit sweats… the worst was the under the boob stuff. Nothing like drops of sweat rolling down to your c-section wound while trying to be a angelic new mother.