Postpartum night sweats and hot flashes. Sorry.

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Night sweats and hot flashes. We’re talking drenched PJs, sheets, the whole works. And I’m not talking about menopause, although we have that to look forward to as well. I’m talking postpartum. About 30% of women will experience this joy (*sarcasm*). The symptoms will peak, on average, at 2 weeks postpartum and decline after, with about 10% of women continuing to have hot flashes at 1 month postpartum. This is the same percent of women that will experience hot flashes during pregnancy, too, although it’s not necessarily the same women who will suffer.

 

 Why oh why?

Hot flashes occur with any marked hormonal fluctuation. This fluctuation occurs during menopause (sometime gloomily referred to as “the transition”), but also pregnancy and postpartum. The physiology and cause of hot flashes isn’t exactly clear, but it’s theorized that our thermoregulatory processes get out of whack in response to the extreme hormonal changes. Postpartum, our bodies undergo a dramatic decrease in progesterone and estrogen (both hormones are produced in excess during pregnancy). With breastfeeding, the low hormone levels persist.

 

Why does it matter?

Studies have shown that hot flashes can drastically reduce the quality of a woman’s life. They are extremely uncomfortable, embarrassing, and impossible to predict or control.

There may also be a link between severity of hot flashes and increased risk for postpartum depression. The theories: one, perhaps the most extreme hormonal changes or neuroendocrine alterations cause the worst hot flashes and also contribute to postpartum depression; and two, perhaps the toll that hot flashes take on a woman’s quality of life predispose the postpartum woman to depression, especially sleep disturbances in a time when sleep is rare and precious but remains an absolute necessity.

Anecdotally I’ve seen women with more water retention and swelling during pregnancy also have more hot flashes and night sweats, as another mechanism to get rid of that extra fluid.

 

What to do to get you through it?  

Stay hydrated. Keep a change of clothes next to your bed. Change your sheets often. Keep your hair up. Have a fan nearby. And hang in there. It won’t last long.

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Phthalates phthalates everywhere

 

phthalate free
This is what I’m talkin’ about

Phthalates – you may have heard this word floating around in environmental or health circuits. Nicholas Kristoff referenced them in a recent New York Times articles (here you go).

When you’ve run across it, you may have ignored it, or maybe hesitated to learn more because it just looks confusing and scientific, or maybe you did investigate but got overwhelmed with the lack of clarity. I’m guilty of all 3 of these. But I’ve come around and you will too because I’m going to spell it out for you right now.

Continue reading “Phthalates phthalates everywhere”

CBD – gospel or gimmick?

CBD
My CBD beauty collection

I’ve seen a barrage of patients lately using CBD, or cannabidiol, for anxiety symptoms or as a sleep aid. Let me add here that these are NOT pregnant patients, and skip to the bottom if you want to see why you shouldn’t be using CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. Simultaneously I started seeing CBD in clean beauty shops and in a ton of health care and skin care blogs. You may be thinking, isn’t it just marijuana?

Yes … sort of.

Cannabinoids are the major active constituents of the Cannabis plant. More than 100 are known to scientists, but the two most recognized are the psychoactive THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is the regulated form of cannabis because of its psychoactive properties (don’t give me a hard time here … you know what those properties are).

So that leaves us with CBD. Continue reading “CBD – gospel or gimmick?”