Cold and shivering uncontrollably after giving birth – postpartum chills

Cold and shivering uncontrollably after giving birth – postpartum chills

Shortly after giving birth, you may find yourself feeling really cold. So much so that you start shivering uncontrollably with chattering teeth. Learn more about postpartum chills; why we feel cold after giving birth and how to care for yourself.

I wish I had learnt about postpartum chills and been prepared for them before giving birth. Instead, I was freaking out because I was unable to control my shivering body and chattering teeth.

With no idea what was going on, I thought something was seriously wrong with me. The weather outside was warm and the room I was in was warm so I couldn’t work out why I was feeling so cold. What’s more, I also didn’t speak up or ask any of the hospital staff because I was too scared to.

Is it normal to feel so cold postpartum?

From chatting with friends and reading reactions to my posts on Instagram, I know that many women experienced postpartum shivers. I realised that it is a fairly common experience for mothers shortly after giving birth. Our bodies have just been through a massive physical change.

After researching online, I found a case study, published in the US National Library of Information, of 100 women giving birth, which reports that 31% of the women studied experienced postpartum chills.

In my case, I only experienced postpartum shivering after giving birth to my second child. Perhaps because I had an epidural towards the end of the birth of my first child and therefore my body was still numbed? My second birth was without any medication and therefore I clearly felt every stage of his birth naturally. My teeth chattered uncontrollably for at least an hour shortly after giving birth.

Why do I feel so cold after giving birth?

Shivering and shaking could be your body dealing with shock after a huge physical change. All of a sudden after nine months of carrying around a baby, your body has to readjust.

Hormonal changes; hormones regulating themselves or new hormones kicking in following the birth.

Blood group incompatibility: doctors studying 100 laboring women found indications that shivering could be linked to blood group incompatibility between mother and baby.

Dr Russell advises that postpartum chills could be a natural reaction to fluid or heat loss whilst giving birth. 

Mommylabornurse also suggests that feeling cold could be linked to blood loss during giving birth. During pregnancy our blood volume increases by up to 50% and generally, women do feel warmer during pregnancy. Extra blood keeps us warmer and therefore losing this volume in a short period of time can make a big change to our body temperature regulation.

Research from TheBump indicates that shivering could be a reaction to anesthesia or a release of endorphins.

Perhaps you needed extra assistance (c-section or vacuum assisted delivery) with the birth and this has put your body into shock.

What can help to ease postpartum chills?

Caring for yourself first: cover yourself up and keep warm until the shivering subsides. Even if it is warm summer time outside or the room you are in is warm, you could still feel shivery cold. It is good self-care to cuddle and wrap up.

Pack a favorite cuddly blanket or jumper in your hospital bag and long, warm socks. Put them on as soon as you start to feel cold after giving birth.

Ask your partner to cuddle up with you for extra bodily heat and to help calm you.

Try to relax yourself with music or your using calming scents such as lavender or lemon.

Note: Talk to your doctor to check that you haven’t got a fever. The shivering sensation you have is more a reaction to shock and should not be accompanied by a fever. If you have flulike symptoms and become feverish, this could be a warning sign that indicate an infection. Refer to patient.info for more information about warning signs. Always call your doctor to be extra sure about any postpartum symptoms. 

My intention is to inform as many mums-to-be as possible about pregnancy and postpartum changes. Being fully informed makes the whole pregnancy and postpartum experience much more enjoyable. If we don’t understand our bodies then it is so easy to freak out and be scared. Like me, many women just freak out and don’t ask for help because we are just too scared to ask.

Vicki Renz

Vicki Renz

Recurrent miscarriage survivor & mother of two. Qualified energy and shamanic healer with 20 years experience. I have made it my mission to support women with pregnancy struggles who are experiencing low self-esteem, ensuring an empowered and confident transformational journey into motherhood.

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