Night Sweats (nocturnal hyperhidrosis) During Pregnancy

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The seasons are starting to change, there is a definite chill in the air. The Fall is on its way and with it comes sweaters, pumpkins, hot chocolate, and no more pregnancy sweating! No more sweating through maternity sundresses or billowy robes. No more desperate fanning while in the sunshine during a summer outdoor wedding. Most of all, no more night sweats. At least that’s what you think. Unfortunately for many mamas-to-be, the chillier air does not mean no more night sweating.

Nocturnal hyperhidrosis, or night sweats, refers to the overabundance of perspiration some women experience during pregnancy while they sleep. Night sweats are not simply feeling hotter at night, or sweating more than you usually would mean sweating in excess. If you’re experiencing night sweats, you’ll likely sweat through your clothing. Most pregnant women with nocturnal hyperhidrosis find they can’t sleep through the night because their bedding becomes soaked.

Night sweats and temperature regulation issues can be caused by a number of conditions and circumstances, including a thyroid disorder, infections, and yes — normal physiological changes that come with pregnancy. There are many potential causes of night sweating, with many of them explaining how to better handle this (hopefully temporary) condition.

Hormonal changes and regulators stemming from estrogen and progesterone transitions during pregnancy can catapult you to the hot zone really quickly during pregnancy. Studies on sex hormones’ effects on thermoregulation explain that estrogens lower body temperatures by boosting the body’s ability to dissipate heat by sweating. In addition, progesterone may be at play raising the body’s temps.

Increased blood flow can also increase body heat during the night. A pregnant woman’s blood plasma volume increases by up to 40 percent compared to pre-pregnancy and it continues to rise to 60 percent (or more) by the end of the third trimester. Your blood vessels then dilate to deliver more blood to your skin’s surface, therefore, making your skin hotter.

Thyroid issues can also be the culprit of night sweats. Thyroid hormones help regulate metabolism and body temperature with too much thyroid hormone may have you feeling overheated in general or during sleep. During the first trimester, thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3) increase, falling again slightly as you enter the second and third trimesters. TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), on the other hand, decreases in the beginning of the first trimester and increases again before the second trimester begins. Your body is constantly recalibrating to keep up with the thyroid and hormonal changes which definitely lead to increased night sweats.

Low blood sugar can also lead to increased sweating. During pregnancy, your metabolism is in overdrive to feed and nourish not only you but also your growing baby. You can be left nutritionally depleted if you don’t consume enough calories, or equally balanced calories, throughout the day. If this is the case, you could experience hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. And night sweats, or nocturnal hypoglycemia, can be a tell-tale sign.

It is important to note if you are experiencing extreme symptoms or start feeling as though you cannot sleep at all, please contact your healthcare practitioner immediately.

Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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