The body goes through a lot during pregnancy, but the changes don’t end there. After the baby has been delivered, you’ll notice all kinds of new (and possibly unusual) changes — like postpartum chills. If you’ve found yourself frequently layering up and wrapping yourself up in blankets since your baby has been born, rest assured, these shivers won’t last forever.
Are Postpartum Chills Normal?
It is completely normal for new moms to experience postpartum chills immediately following labor and delivery as well as in the weeks following. “Immediately following delivery, experiencing chills or shivers are completely normal,” Karroll P McGregor, MD, an OB/GYN at Atrium Health Women’s Care tells Romper in an interview. “This can happen because of blood loss, fluid loss, or changes in the hormones.” In this case, it usually doesn’t matter what the room temperature is or how many warm blankets the nurses pile on top of you because it’s usually about the body’s reaction to what it just went through, not its temperature.
In the days and weeks following delivery, postpartum chills can also be associated with breastfeeding. “Some women will report ‘chills’ as their milk comes in or with breast engorgement,” Elizabeth Gresham Livingston, MD, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine tells Romper in an email. Additionally, McGregor notes that it’s not uncommon to experience chills after the body has cooled down from a sweaty postpartum hot flash.
What Causes Postpartum Chills?
As with most of the body’s reactions to pregnancy, hormonal changes are mostly to blame for postpartum chills. For the shakes that come immediately following delivery, Livingston says, “We usually attribute the cause to ‘hormonal shifts’ though the exact cause is not always clear.” McGregor agrees, but also adds that blood loss and adrenaline may also contribute to these extreme postpartum chills.
Chills that come on after a sweaty hot flash are usually just the body’s natural response to being wet in a cool room. In this case, all you need to do is clean up and grab a blanket or sweatshirt until your body temperature regulates. As for postpartum chills from breastfeeding, both Livingston and McGregor note that it is a common reaction and usually nothing to worry about. However, if the chills are associated with pain, engorgement, and a fever, it could be a sign of mastitis and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.
When To Worry About Postpartum Chills
Again, postpartum chills are normal, especially immediately following delivery, so try your best to stay calm and ride them out. “For most women, [these chills] will stop within minutes to hours after birth,” says Livingston, however, “it’s important to monitor the new mother’s temperature in the postpartum period because shaking with a fever can indicate an infection” and further treatment may be needed. Similarly, in the days and weeks following delivery, McGregor says any chills that are “accompanied by fever, cough, chest pains or feeling unwell” should prompt a call to your healthcare provider to ensure there isn’t more going on.
As your hormones settle, so will the postpartum chills. Until then, the most you can do is equip yourself with a warm sweatshirt and cozy socks for whenever you need to get warm (and if you’ve ever needed an excuse to splurge on a luxurious throw blanket, this is it).
Elizabeth Gresham Livingston, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University School of Medicine