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If you’re recovering from childbirth and noticed you have a smelly situation at hand (no, not your baby’s diapers), you’re probably wondering why your postpartum body odor is so, smelly. The good news is that you can thank your changing hormone levels, which shouldn’t last forever.
Postpartum body odor is normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable. Thanks to hormonal changes so many things (literally, so many) shift and change after birth.
The important thing to know is that it’s normal, there’s nothing broken or wrong with you, and there are remedies you can try to safely freshen up the scent.
I spoke with J’Leise Sosa an Obstetrician-Gynecologist at GPPC, Women’s Health to bring you the best and most up-to-date information surrounding your postpartum body odor.
Why Do Moms Experience Postpartum Body Odor?
Here’s a fun fact I bet you didn’t know: your new or unpleasant odors occur as a way to support your newborn baby and initiate breastfeeding! You see, newborns rely on their mother’s scent in order to find the breast and begin the first latch. You can think of this as somewhat of a survival instinct in a sense.
In fact, breastfeeding mothers can expect their bodies to excrete different pheromones or scents to help their new baby initiate that bonding process.
Another reason women experience heightened postpartum body odor is due to having excess fluids built up in the body. Throughout pregnancy, a woman’s body holds onto fluid for a variety of reasons, but after the baby is born, that fluid needs a way to get out.
One of the ways our body gets those extra fluids out is through sweat! That’s why you’ll probably notice more of a distinct odor (usually underarm odor) and increased sweat. Be sure to drink lots of water during this period to ensure you don’t let your body get dehydrated while you’re sweating up a storm.
Which Hormones Change During the Postpartum Period?
Hormonal fluctuations are normal throughout postpartum. Particularly a drop in estrogen levels and progesterone levels with a rise in prolactin to help bring in the mother’s breast milk.
These hormonal shifts not only affect your body odor postpartum but can also cause vaginal discharge, postpartum night sweats, change in libido, mood swings, vaginal odor, and hair/skin changes (like postpartum hair loss, yikes!).
Remember, even though your underarms may be what stands out most (since your armpits are literally close to your nose making it seem like a stronger smell), you are likely going to experience different smells from other areas on your body.
That strong odor combined can leave you wondering “what the heck is wrong with me?!“, but trust me, there is nothing wrong with you.
Dr. J’Leise Sosa says, “I would not characterize body odor as “stinky” after childbirth, but different from what a person is accustomed to. After giving birth you can shed something called lochia. Lochia contains blood and remnants of the lining of the uterus and this can continue to shed for up to 6-8 weeks in some women”.
When Should Moms Be Concerned About Their Body Odor After Pregnancy?
Although your body odor might seem stronger than before pregnancy, keep in mind that there are minimal reasons when a new mom should be concerned about her body odor.
“If there is a very foul vaginal odor or odor from your c-section incision, see your obstetrician immediately. If after 12 weeks after giving birth, the odor persists, see your obstetrician.“, says Dr. J’Leise Sosa. It could indicate some signs of infection.
But what classifies as a ‘foul body odor after giving birth’ worth being concerned about?
Typically, any sort of infection will have a distinct smell. Oftentimes, it’ll have a sweet or rotten type of smell thanks to some odor-causing bacteria. Trust us, it’s very distinct and you will absolutely notice it.
Remedies for Postpartum Body Odor
“If you feel concerned about strong body odor after giving birth, first remember this is a part of the normal process of your body doing its work to return to its pre-pregnancy state“, says Dr. J’Leise Sosa. She also recommends trying a natural line of postpartum cleansing cloths or deodorizing spritzers if the odor is becoming bothersome (but not worrisome).
However, if your sense of smell is not happy with your body odor after giving birth, we have lined up some body odor remedies (for even the most sensitive skin).
Practice Good Hygiene to Combat the Smell
If you’re experiencing lochia which is causing a stinky vaginal scent after birth, a great remedy for this is to use a postpartum herbal bath.
If you’re 6 to 8 weeks postpartum, keeping up with your hygiene by adding in an extra shower or two per week can really help combat the smell and of course, keep you clean.
However, we all know getting a shower when navigating those early newborn days doesn’t always play out as expected. In that case, try keeping the areas that sweat and retain moisture clean and dry. You can use some water wipes (like these ones) and pat dry when you’re done.
Use the Best Deodorant for Postpartum Body Odor
If you’re noticing that your body odor is coming primarily from your underarms, you can kick those weird smells by using a natural deodorant. Our personal favorite is the calming lavender deodorant by Earth Mama.
This deodorant is all-natural and was formulated for moms like you (even those with sensitive skin). The key with this deodorant is that it won’t clog up your pores by trying to prevent perspiration, but it does an excellent job masking any unwanted body odor scents during the postpartum phase.
And if we’re being honest, I loved this deodorant so much that I still use it (and I’m way beyond the postpartum period). If you aren’t sure which scent you’d like most, you can even purchase a sample pack that includes all of the scents. This was one of my go-to staple items throughout postpartum, so I know you’ll love it too.
Drink Plenty of Water
Knowing your body may be sweating a lot more thanks to those postpartum hormones, it’s important to keep up on your water intake.
Not only will it keep you hydrated (which is especially important for breastfeeding mothers), but it can help to flush out any toxins within the body making your new scent a little more pungent.
Wear Breathable Undergarments & Clothing
Wearing breathable undergarments and clothing is another way to help keep your postpartum body odor at bay. By wearing breathable cotton and materials, you’ll prevent any excess sweat and body fluids from being trapped under your clothes.
Another great alternative, are Davy Piper’s high-waisted panties. These panties are made with ultra-stretchy, breathable, and super soft rayon fabric. They are not leakproof, so if you’re newly postpartum and still experiencing vaginal bleeding, you’ll need to wear a pad with these.
However, if you’ve had a c-section, the non-digging waistband will be ultra-comfy and supportive while you recover. Trust me when I say, the best thing you can do is wear breathable clothing to help prevent sweat build-up and also for comfort.
Manage Stress and Anxiety
For some people, stress can cause an increase in body temperature (thanks to the rush of adrenaline and cortisol flooding your body). As you guessed, an increase in body temperature will lead to more perspiration. Add that into the mix of your fluctuating hormones — you might catch a whiff of some postpartum body odors.
Try to Be Patient
Despite these smelly postpartum symptoms causing a little self-consciousness, the good thing is they will (or should) totally resolve once your hormones balance out. This tends to happen when breastfeeding ends or when you get your period back after pregnancy.
Being patient for your sweat glands to stop smelling extra pungent can be a hard thing to wait out.
Dr. J’Leise Sosa says, “The postpartum period is considered to last up to 12 weeks after birth.” Meaning, that moms should hopefully notice their body odor improving around the 12-week mark. From experience, I can tell you it took my body around 6 to 8 months before the sudden increase in body odor seemed to finally normalize back down.
Experiencing different postpartum body odors after pregnancy is normal. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of it.
Keeping up with your basic hygiene needs, wearing breathable clothing, and using a safe/natural deodorant can help mask the scent while your hormones simmer down.
Have you experienced postpartum body odor? Let me know what tips worked for you!
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