I am a natural researcher. When I’m interested in subjects, I tend to read, read, read so that I can be as informed as possible. Before I got pregnant and then during my pregnancy I took this approach, hungrily digesting all the literature I could until close to my due date I had overindulged and couldn’t touch another baby related book. I also found it very hard to see past the birth itself. I had some books on breastfeeding and baby care which I had flicked through but without any idea of what it was like to hold and touch my own tiny baby, it was very hard for me to concentrate on step by step instructions on baby bathing, latching on etc. So in actuality I missed out on a whole section of education – those delicate early days and weeks of new motherhood when the last thing you’d think of doing is touching a 400 pager. (Although my 8 page breastfeeding booklet from the community midwives was mottled with overuse.)
When I woke up in the middle of the night about a week after S was born so wet that I thought I had either peed all over myself or accidentally spilled a very large glass of water, I didn’t know what was happening to me. My nightdress was saturated to the point where I could probably wring it out, my hair was stuck to my forehead and neck and my sheets were soaked all the way through. I had to get up, strip off and towel myself down. If it wasn’t for my sleeping baby and husband, I would have had a shower and changed the bed.
Then the next night the same thing happened again, and the next night, and the next night. It was a bit scary actually. I’d never been a sweaty person and I tend to run on the cold side at the best of times so I couldn’t make any sense of it at all. I thought my body was broken. I was also bloody uncomfortable. I was changing my night clothes and nursing bra twice a night. I had to wipe myself down and tie my hair up to keep it dry. I also started to sleep on a towel over the sheets to stave off the sheet changing. God knows there was enough other bodily fluids competing to ruin the sheets. (Breastmilk, lochia, saliva, tears, baby pee, baby puke – in case you were wondering.)
I was too embarrassed to mention it to the other women in my breastfeeding support group in case I was the only sweaty wonder. I also wasn’t seeing eye to eye with my public health nurse – a difference of philosophies, shall we call it? It wasn’t until my six week check with the GP that I found out it was night sweats. My hormones were telling my body to get rid of all the excess fluid still hanging around after pregnancy. Not every woman experiences it apparently and it’s not related to breastfeeding. She didn’t half put the fear in me when she said she was still getting them six years after her last pregnancy! Shudder.
They stopped not long after that and I was very glad to be able to stay in bed and keep the same night dress on me all night. Six weeks was a long enough run. I was also very happy to explain them to a woman who brought it up at the breastfeeding support group a few weeks later and to give her some solidarity in her sweatiness.
So there you go – night sweats – one more thing I learned on the hoof on this exciting rollercoaster. Any other sweaty Bettys out there?