Most new mothers know that they will not get much sleep due to the needs of a newborn, but sleep problems can start even before the baby is born. Pregnant woman may have a hard time getting comfortable at night, or may need to get up to use the bathroom several times in one evening. Many expectant mothers also suffer from night sweats during the duration of their pregnancies.
The clinical term for night sweating is nocturnal hyperhydrosis. One of the more common and less serious causes of night sweating is pregnancy, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians website. Night sweating is technically defined as sweating enough to awaken and have to change out of your clothing because it is so soaked with sweat, but many pregnant women have less serious symptoms.
Night sweats during pregnancy are caused by the rapid change in hormones in the expectant mother’s body. As the estrogen level in the body drops, the hypothalamus reacts by directing the brain to heat up the body. That heat results in excess sweating. Because the hypothalamus also regulates your sleep cycles, this occurs most frequently at night.
Wear light, loose clothing when you go to bed, and avoid drinking caffeine, which can trigger heavier episodes of night sweating. Alcohol and spicy foods are also triggers, according to the More4Kids website. Of course, alcohol and caffeine consumption is not recommended for pregnant women anyway. The night sweats themselves, on the other hand, will not hurt your developing baby.
Night sweats can occur as early as the first trimester. In fact, they may be made worse during the first trimester by the use of antipyretic medications, according to Stanford University. Antipyretic medications are given to women who suffer from extreme nausea early in the pregnancy to help reduce vomiting and stomach upsets.
Other, more serious things may cause night sweats. These include lymphoma, leukemia and other cancers, as well as contagious viruses such as mononucleosis. If your night sweats occurred even before pregnancy, or if they are particularly severe and unrelenting, see a doctor to rule out other causes.