You would think that giving birth would finally put paid to the many, many changes your body experienced during pregnancy.
However, you would only be transitioning to a different set of changes, some good, and some, not so wonderful.
One of the changes that come up after giving birth is postpartum body odor. If you’re a first time mom and a neat freak, this change might surprise you and you’ll spend the first few weeks trying to get rid of it the way you know how, but with likely very little success.
I nearly went ballistic the first time I perceived this odor. I took to scrubbing a lot more, but that funky smell would only return after a few hours. It was as though it was there to taunt me, and it was quite frustrating.
Not to mention embarrassing.
In my desperation, I searched for a solution online and discovered quite a bit about postpartum body odor.
Top Facts About Postpartum Body Odor
1) The first thing I found out about this new and persisting odor is that it is quite common and should even be expected after you give birth.
2) I also discovered that postpartum body odor doesn’t just start after delivery for most women, but begins as early as the first trimester of pregnancy.
Remember how your sense of smell gets heightened during pregnancy? Well, this is not all the change some women experience.
This heightened sense of smell will make you pick up even the faintest of smells and you are bound to know if a change has occurred in pregnancy.
3) For women who experienced this change postpartum, one of the culprits for it is their hormones.
Your estrogen levels drop from what it was during pregnancy and this brings about a lot of these changes, including a likely vaginal odor that might not be very pleasant.
4) Every woman experiences postpartum body odor differently and the odor might emanate from one or a few different parts of their body.
Some women will have an odor that is not too strong and can be comfortably overlooked, while for a few others, you might need to seek out strong remedies to keep things in check.
3 Parts of the Anatomy Likely to Produce an Odor
Three parts of your anatomy that are likely to emit an odor postpartum include:
- The Armpits
This is the worse culprit for postpartum body odor. You will notice that you sweat a lot after giving birth as your body hormones get to work trying to rid your system of that excess water weight.
Your body tries to cleanse itself via these sweats, which occur mostly at night.
Now, while sweats naturally don’t have any smell, body odor in this case, as with any other time, is produced when sweat mixes with the bacteria on your skin.
Eliminating postpartum body odor from the armpit would now be centered on managing this sweat, as well as eliminating or at the very least reducing the odor-causing bacteria on your skin.
- The Vaginal
Your vaginal has gone through a lot pushing out a baby and would still be actively working for up to six weeks as lochia, containing blood, mucus, and uterine tissue gets eliminated from your body.
Every woman will experience lochia, whether you had a vaginal birth or a cesarean section and it should last for 4 – 6 weeks.
Lochia has a musty smell similar to your period, however, it could produce a foul-smelling vaginal discharge if infected, in which case you should see a doctor.
Postpartum body odor while breastfeeding is another odor new moms will contend with. Unlike lochia that can be managed, especially if you change your pads often, with breastfeeding, you will find a little of the musky smell lingers still.
This odor is produced by your hormones which secretes pheromones and is actually a good thing.
Body odor while breastfeeding is actually your body’s way of helping your baby find its food source.
A newborn’s eyesight isn’t as developed as an adult’s; they can see objects up to 8 to 12 inches away. Anything farther appears blurry.
While breastfeeding, your body odor will emanate from your armpit and chest regions and this is what helps direct your baby’s attention to your breasts and also encourages feeding.
How to Get Rid of Postpartum Body Odor While Breastfeeding
Most mothers wonder if they should even try to remove or mask their body odor while breastfeeding. However, seeing as any kind of body odor can be very off-putting and make you uncomfortable, not to mention make people stay away from you, you want to try to manage it as much as possible, so long as you don’t use any antiperspirant with a strong fragrance.
Besides using a natural, fragrance-free deodorant, some other remedies you want to look into include
- Wash and change your breast pads often, before they even soak through.
- Wash and change your outfits often, especially if they have been stained by breastmilk.
How Long Does Postpartum Body Odor Last?
My postpartum body odor subsided fully after a year. However, within that time, I was able to manage the different smells through a few remedies.
Some of these smells, like that of lochia, should disappear completely after six weeks and you would be left with the others, which can also be effectively managed and even eliminated using the right remedy.
Other Postpartum Body Odor Remedies
1) Shave Off Excess Hair
Hair traps sweat and bacteria and seeing as your body is producing more sweat at this time, you want to remove every excess hair from your body.
2) Shower Often
You also should get started showering early in the day and repeat this as often as you feel the need for it.
I took to showering three times daily, even though it wasn’t convenient at first and this helped keep the armpit sweat under control.
3) Go Around with a Baby Wipe
Baby wipes are ideal if you find you have to reapply your deodorant a few times throughout the day to keep things in check.
It would then be a simple act of wiping your underarms to eliminate the odor before applying a fresh coat of antiperspirant.
4) Have an Antiperspirant on You Always
If you would need to apply your antiperspirant a few times, then you should have one in your bag as you move about.
5) Use a Strong Antiperspirant
If the above option isn’t to your liking, then you could just opt for the better and more convenient option of using an antiperspirant that helps control odor-causing bacteria.
One brand that works to 100% control these bacteria, is the Lume antiperspirant.
This antiperspirant keeps you protected for up to 72 hours, so there’s never the fear of sweats and odor breaking out.
6) Use an Antibacterial Soap
You might also need to switch up your regular soap for one that’s antibacterial. This will ensure any excess bacteria on your skin is eliminated, giving less room for a smell build-up.
7) Take Lots of Water
Since your body has to get rid of the water weight, you can try to help things along by taking lots of water to stay hydrated.
This also ensures that your body turns to eliminating wastes via urine and not just through sweats.
With this, you will sweat a lot less.
8) Opt for Natural Clothing
You also want to opt for clothing with a natural fiber as this will allow your skin to breathe.
9) Wear Lose Clothing
Loose clothing allows your skin to breathe and ensures sweat evaporates quickly, leaving you cooler and fresher.
10) Sleep on a Towel to Protect Your Sheets
You also want to sleep on a towel at night to protect your sheets.
Since night sweats mostly occur at night, this will ensure your sheets don’t get soaked while the towel gets washed daily.
11) Use a Deodorizer to Launder Your Clothes
Over time, odor from the underarm sticks to your clothes, and you would get a whiff of it, even after washing.
To combat this, you would regularly need to use a strong, natural deodorizer when washing, especially around the armpit region.
One good one that comes to mind is distilled white vinegar. Make a solution using one part white vinegar to four part water and pre-soak the clothes for thirty minutes before washing.
Ensure you air out the clothes beforehand if not washing immediately, as bunching them up would only give the bacteria more room to breed.
A good alternative to white vinegar is lemon juice, which also works to remove breastmilk stains.
You mix a few teaspoons of it in 2 liters of water and also presoak for 30 minutes to get both the stains and odor out.