How to Get Rid of Body Odor While Breastfeeding
Your body goes through many changes after you give birth, most of which you will start to notice as early as the first trimester of pregnancy.
One of these changes is that you will notice a strong body odor while breastfeeding. Now, this can be a source of worry for most new moms especially if you didn’t experience this pre-pregnancy.
I remember this making me uncomfortable at the time and I became desperate for a solution.
Body odor while breastfeeding is a natural part of motherhood, even if it is a bit uncomfortable and science has a reason for why it occurs.
To better manage this time of your life, you should first know why most women experience body odor while breastfeeding.
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Why Do My Armpits Smell While Breastfeeding?
Your armpits will give off a more pungent smell than usual when you start to breastfeed and this is not all the changes you will see. You will also notice pungent smells coming from a few other parts of your body like your chest and your vagina region.
Each of these smells has a reason:
The smell from your vagina, called lochia, typically lasts six to eight weeks.
Lochia is a mix of blood, mucus, uterine tissue, and leftover fetal membrane and gives off a stale, musty smell like your period.
While lochia typically can’t be perceived by those around you, however, you might be able to as breastfeeding moms have a heightened sense of smell, another feature that starts early on during pregnancy.
Lochia should smell like your regular period, but, if you notice a much stronger smell that is slightly offensive (fishy) this might be a sign it is infected and you should see your doctor.
Breast/ Breast Milk Smell
The smell from your chest region is caused by a few reasons (stale smell from milk leakage, your baby’s saliva, and the extra active apocrine sweat glands in your nipples and areola.
This smell comes about as a result of the breakdown of fatty exceptions in the apocrine glands.
Your armpit also contains apocrine glands and is the third part of your anatomy to give off such a strong smell.
This is the smell that will disturb you the most and one you will try a little more desperately to manage.
When you breastfeed, your hormones become a lot more active, making you secrete these pheromones to attract your baby to feed. The buildup of this secretion is what gives off that pungent smell.
Trying to manage body odor while breastfeeding starts with knowing why it happens and here are a few science-backed reasons for this:
- Your body tries to re-regulate your hormones after childbirth, which went all out of place when you became pregnant.
This is what accounts for the extra activeness of the apocrine glands and the increased sweat.
- Smells in your armpit and breast region are actually orchestrated by nature to help a baby find its food source.
Babies’ eyesight and hearing aren’t fully developed at birth and they will only be able to see objects within an 8 to 12 inches radius. Objects outside this radius appear blurry.
(Yea, you will have to lean in quite close for her to really see you)
Their sense of smell, however, is heightened and the smells from your armpit and chest region help move your baby’s head towards its food source which comes in handy during those early weeks.
- You likely gained a few extra pounds while pregnant and while these will shed, usually within a year, all those extra weights come with a small price: increased insulation and warmth.
You will find you sweat more, especially at night as your body tries to shed off those extra water weight.
How Long Does Postpartum Body Odor Last?
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how long postpartum body odor lasts.
For some women, this situation resolves itself within a year, while a few might find it extends over this time.
For my first, the postpartum body odor resolved within a year, while for my son, it took slightly longer. I’m guessing this happened because he breastfed for much longer.
Best Deodorant for Breastfeeding Body Odor
One of the most recommended deodorants to manage body odor during pregnancy is the Lume brand. This deodorant is so potent, that it neutralizes the smell in the armpit.
Women who experience body odor while breastfeeding wonder if they can still use Lume, especially if they experienced the same while pregnant.
There’s always the fear that the ingredients contained in any deodorant might somehow affect the baby.
However, research has found using the Lume brand to be safe as the scented formulas contain just 1-1.5% of essential oils and natural botanicals, making it non-toxic.
The Lume brand also offers an unscented brand, if you would be more comfortable with this.
Other deodorants considered safe for managing body odor while breastfeeding are Bright Citrus Deodorant which contains organic grapefruit, calendula, and andrine, and the Tawas deodorant.
How to Get Rid of Body Odor While Breastfeeding
Beyond using a stronger deodorant, there are a few natural ways to help manage body odor while breastfeeding. These range from a few lifestyle changes to the use of one or more household items.
Here are some remedies you can adopt with such positive results:
While showering often might seem like it doesn’t tackle the actual problem of excessive sweating, it does rid the body of the buildup of sweat that has accumulated in the skin.
Washing often will also make you feel refreshed and build up your confidence.
How often should you shower?
As often as is comfortable with you. Experts recommend showering these or more times and paying a bit more attention to those sweat regions, as this is what worked for me.
2.Use a Breastmilk Collector
Breast milk leakage is such a thing and could happen for several reasons, including when you hear a baby cry (even if the baby is not yours), when your nipples rub against a clothing surface, or whenever your baby wakes up.
Breast milk could also leak in smaller quantities without you even being aware. However since all that breast milk can dry up to produce that unpleasant smell, you want to use the Haakaa Breast Milk Collector to help out here. You wear it on your person and it collects the milk all through the day.
One beauty to this remedy is that besides helping manage body odor while breastfeeding, it also sees you collecting breast milk, which can be used up by your baby much later.
3.Wash with Lemon Water
Lemon is a deodorizer which makes it so great for times such as this. It contains citric acid that neutralizes the odor-causing compound, leaving you smelling fresh.
The best part is that it’s also quite easy to use to combat body odor
A few drops squeezed into a small bowl of water would suffice. Using a washcloth, you clean the armpits and chest region to get refreshed.
4.Increase Your Water Intake
Staying hydrated also comes highly recommended, not just because it helps your breast milk supply, but because it can also help you manage body odor.
Since body odor while breastfeeding is caused by excessive sweating at this time, increasing your water intake means the water and toxins in your body will be eliminated through urine and not via your sweat glands.
How much water should you take while breastfeeding?
To stay hydrated, you want to drink up to 16 eight-ounce glasses per day.
5.Shave Your Armpits
Hair traps sweat which harbors compounds like sulfur, fatty acids, and proteins which encourage bacteria buildup.
You want to shave often to keep breastfeeding body odor at bay.
6.Avoid Sweat Stimulants
Certain foods make your apocrine glands a lot more active so you should also steer clear of these or limit them as much as possible.
Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages (I would steer clear of these completely) fall into this category and should be taken only in moderation.
7.Clean Up as Often as Needed
Although not a permanent solution, cleaning your armpits with a baby wipe and reapplying your deodorant will help manage the situation.
It will make you feel clean, to some extent, and also boost your confidence, especially when amid people.
You could also clean your chest region as often as possible to get the same effect.
8.Limit Food Rich in Sulfur
You also want to limit foods rich in sulfur from your diet. Foods like broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower while including other milk-boosting foods in your diet.
An alternative to lemon juice is lime juice and some moms prefer this, although both applications are slightly different.
Squeeze out some of the juice out of the lime, leaving in just one-third, then apply this over your minute five minutes before taking your bath.
Now, while you would be washing this juice all off, the high PH level of lime creates an environment that makes it difficult for bacteria to thrive.
10.Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Organic apple cider vinegar will neutralize any body odor while breastfeeding as it has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties.
This item works quite well when used as a sole remedy for postpartum body odor, but is a lot more effective when you combine it with bentonite clay to make a paste.
This combination helps to eliminate the bacteria responsible for the odor and also balances your skin’s PH.
11.Use a Towel
Placing a towel on your sheets will help catch most of the night sweats that happen when you sleep, leaving the sheets clean.
12.Wear Loose Clothing
Lose, natural clothing will allow your skin to breathe, helping you manage excessive sweating effectively.
Should You Try to Eliminate This Smell Knowing It Helps Your Baby Find Its Food?
The breasts will continue to excrete a fluid with a smell that will always serve as a guide to your newborn.
Trying to eliminate this smell doesn’t mean your baby will be left unguided. Your baby’s heightened sense of smell will pick up even the faintest breast milk smell.
There’s also the fact a mom will also be there to gently guide her newborn’s head towards her breast region.
You should work to eliminate this body odor while breastfeeding if it makes you uncomfortable and for your peace of mind.
Tags: Body odor during pregnancy, body odor while breastfeeding, postpartum body odor