Experiencing postpartum body odor? Don’t fret! It’s usually completely normal. Here are 8 ways to manage it and when to be concerned!
If you’re a first time mom you might be surprised by some of your body changes after birth.
Unfortunately, this may include a flood of unpleasant odors.
There are several causes of body odor after birth that may last several weeks postpartum.
Thankfully, there are some things new moms can do to manage these less-than-pleasant smells.
Below you’ll find 8 postpartum body odor remedies that actually work and other tips to help you survive the fourth trimester.
Causes of Postpartum Body Odor
First, rest assured that it’s normal to experience odor during the postpartum period.
And some of the reasons why are pretty cool.
Your body is healing, transitioning, and providing food for your new baby.
Each of these functions is responsible for producing odors in the body. And each is important for your health and the health of your baby!
Hormonal shifts are dramatic in the postpartum period. Progesterone and estrogen levels drop as prolactin levels rise to produce breast milk.
As hormone levels change, women may experience changes in mood, hair, libido, and postpartum body odor.
Your body is also naturally cleansing itself through your sweat glands.
During pregnancy, the body fills with excess fluids to support your growing baby. After birth, the body releases this water weight through urine and sweat.
It’s normal to experience postpartum night sweats and frequent urination. And you may also experience hot flashes and sharp changes in body temperature.
All this extra sweat interacts with odor-causing bacteria on the skin which start to feast on its proteins, fatty acids, and sulfur.
Additionally, feeling anxious or tired activates the body’s stress hormones making the smell of sweat more intense.
Newborns don’t see very well, but their sense of smell is fully formed.
Because of that, their mother’s scent becomes a crucial way for them to recognize and bond with their mother. It also helps them find the breast when nursing.
The body naturally intensifies the smell of underarm sweat and releases different pheromones during the postpartum period to help from this important connection.
So you can think of this funky smell as a way of communicating with your newborn!
How to Get Rid of Body Odor While Breastfeeding
The apocrine glands (sweat-secreting glands) in the underarm area are closest to the breast. So it’s important to keep this area free of chemicals that may harm your baby.
While breastfeeding, choose a natural deodorant to help manage body odor.
Strong odors will dissipate with time as your body continues to adjust.
You may also notice a stronger smell than normal from your vaginal discharge.
Vaginal bleeding and postpartum lochia have a distinct smell that’s a mixture of old blood, fresh blood, and bodily fluids from pregnancy and birth.
This metallic smell is normal and will decrease with time.
However, if you notice a fishy odor this may be a sign of a bacterial infection.
RELATED: What’s Going On If Postpartum Bleeding Stopped Then Started Again?
Postpartum Body Odor Remedies
Pregnancy heightens the sense of smell, and this may last into the postpartum period.
So, thankfully, you probably smell worse to yourself than you do to others.
Here are some simple ways to minimize harsh odors, and help put your nose and mind at ease.
1. Practice good hygiene.
It may be hard to find time to shower during the newborn stage, but if you can manage an extra shower here and there, this is the best way to deal with postpartum body odor.
In between showers, you can use underarm wipes to deal with underarm odor, and vaginal wipes to manage vaginal odor.
You can also run a wet cloth over sweat-collecting areas like the neck and small of the back.
RELATED: Lochia: How long does postpartum bleeding last?
2. Shave your armpits.
Underarm hairs trap odor from sweat. Keeping this area shaved will help minimize smells.
3. Drink lots of water!
Proper hydration is important for breastfeeding. But, it also flushes toxins from the body and helps to dilute postpartum body odor.
Additionally, drinking more water will encourage liquids to be released through urine rather than sweat.
4. Wear breathable clothing.
Clothes made with breathable materials will help manage sweat. These are especially helpful when sleeping at night!
5. Sleep with a towel.
Consider sleeping with a towel. This will help wick moisture away from the body and keep your sheets dry.
6. Avoid sulfur-rich foods and cruciferous vegetables.
Sulfur-rich foods like red meat and cumin and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage may make postpartum body odor worse.
Consider reducing these foods in your diet during the postpartum period.
7. Avoid alcohol and stimulants like caffeine.
Alcohol and stimulants like caffeine increase sweating. Avoid foods and beverages containing these items during postpartum.
8. Use apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is naturally antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic. Because of that, it can help kill odor-causing bacteria on the skin.
Consider using a soap made with apple cider vinegar.
Or, use that bottle in your pantry!
If you have ACV at home, wet a disposable or reusable cotton pad and wipe areas that need refreshing. However, be sure to avoid the vaginal area and areas with sensitive skin.
Other Postpartum Body Changes to Know
Unfortunately, there are plenty of other issues to deal with besides postpartum body odor during the postpartum phase.
Review this list of common postpartum body changes for smart ways to manage them.
Thankfully, most of these changes are temporary.
But there may be some that aren’t.
Postpartum bodies mark an important rite of passage. So be patient with yourself. And try to remember all the amazing things your body has done and continues to do!
If you have any concerns about your postpartum body, make sure to discuss them with your doctor. This is especially true for feelings of depression, anger, or rage.
Don’t feel ashamed if you experience any of these extreme emotions. They’re quite common for women after giving birth, and medication like antidepressants can help!
When to Be Concerned
Now that we discussed how to manage postpartum body odor and other changes, here are some things to look out for.
Reach out to your healthcare provider right away if you notice any of these “red flag” postpartum symptoms:
- A fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Unpleasant or fishy vaginal bleeding or discharge.
- Blood clots larger than an egg or soaking through multiple pads within an hour.
- An infected or bleeding episiotomy scar.
- Signs of mastitis (breast infection), such as red, hard, painful areas in the breast and a fever.
- An abdomen that is painful to the touch.
There are several reasons for armpit smells after pregnancy including:
– Hormonal changes
– Flushing of pregnancy water weight through the sweat glands
– Increased body temperature
– Breastfeeding pheromones
You can try things like taking an extra shower, drinking more water, and cleansing with apple cider vinegar to get rid of the smell.
Most postpartum body odors will begin to taper off around the 6-8 week mark. However, extra body odor due to breastfeeding may stick around until you’re done nursing.
If this post was helpful, be sure to check out more tips for brand new moms including:
- Proven newborn sleep tips
- 15 Newborn baby hacks for new moms
- 8 Baby essentials for the first 3 months
- 3 First time mom books worth a read
- The ultimate list of mom hacks
- 115 First birthday party ideas and themes
- 23 Creative monthly baby photo ideas
Did we answer all your questions about postpartum body odor? Let us know if we missed anything in the comments!