What are Common Causes of Night Sweats During Pregnancy?

Susan Grindstaff

According to many physicians, the most common cause of night sweats during pregnancy is lowered levels of the hormone called estrogen. Diet, exercise and certain medications could also be contributing factors. In some cases, certain sicknesses unrelated to pregnancy could also be underlying causes of the problem. Night sweats are considered to be a relatively common issue in pregnancy, and they generally cease a few weeks after delivery.

A diagram of the human skin, including sweat glands.
A diagram of the human skin, including sweat glands.

Research seems to indicate that most women suffer hormonal imbalances while they are pregnant, particularly in the hormone called estrogen. These imbalances can influence an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which is believed to be responsible for controlling how the body responds to temperature. When functioning normally, the hypothalamus generally causes the body to sweat when it gets too hot. Fluctuating levels of estrogen can incorrectly trigger this reaction.

Lower levels of estrogen can cause night sweats.
Lower levels of estrogen can cause night sweats.

Spicy foods, along with caffeinated beverages, and foods that are high in sugar content can all potentially cause night sweats during pregnancy. These foods typically increase the body’s metabolism, which can lead to sweating. Many pregnant women tend to be more sedentary, and this — especially when coupled with a poor diet — might lead to more problems sleeping, including night sweats.

Low estrogen levels can cause night sweats during pregnancy.
Low estrogen levels can cause night sweats during pregnancy.

In some cases, certain diseases could be the cause of night sweats during pregnancy. These might include bacterial infections, cancer or diabetes. Many pregnant women suffer from gestational diabetes, a disorder that typically disappears a few months after delivery. It usually is caused by rapid weight gain, and it is generally more common in older pregnant women.

A pregnant woman should always consult her gynecologist if she has concerns about night sweats or any other health issue.
A pregnant woman should always consult her gynecologist if she has concerns about night sweats or any other health issue.

Certain medications can also lead to night sweats during pregnancy. Anti-nausea medicine and some anti-depressants are believed to be the most common of these, because they tend to cause an increased body temperature. There also are pain relievers that could have the potential to cause the condition.

Keeping rooms cool and wearing light clothing can help pregnant women prevent night sweats.
Keeping rooms cool and wearing light clothing can help pregnant women prevent night sweats.

Night sweats generally are worse during the beginning and end of a pregnancy, because that is when the body is usually undergoing the most intense hormonal imbalances. To minimize the worst of these effects, some women try implementing changes in diet and lifestyle, as well as some fairly simple environmental controls. Keeping bedrooms as cool as possible and wearing lightweight sleeping garments might help for some women. Using fewer blankets or keeping a window open also might reduce the severity of the sweating in some cases. There are some natural herbal remedies available, but pregnant women generally are advised to check with their physicians before taking any type of medication, herbal or otherwise.

Some medications may cause night sweats during pregnancy.
Some medications may cause night sweats during pregnancy.
Bacterial infections can cause night sweats during pregnancy.
Bacterial infections can cause night sweats during pregnancy.
Hormonal imbalances can influence an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which is believed to be responsible for controlling how the body responds to temperature.
Hormonal imbalances can influence an area of the brain called the hypothalamus, which is believed to be responsible for controlling how the body responds to temperature.

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Discussion Comments

Apunkin

I gave birth to my son 12 weeks ago. I've been breast feeding him since he was born. When he was 5 weeks old I started to have hot flashes and night sweats all the time.

Has anyone else experienced this? My sister also breast fed, but she never had any of these problems. Is this normal?

otatop

Hormone imbalance caused me to have nearly unbearable night sweats when I was pregnant. It affected me the most during the first trimester of pregnancy. It gradually improved until it stopped, sometime around the 15th week. It's an annoyance, especially if you sleep with someone who likes the blankets to stay *on* the bed all night, but it does pass.

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