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Postpartum Hives: Why Do They Happen?

Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS · Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jul 31, 2023

Postpartum Hives: Why Do They Happen?

The effects of pregnancy in the woman’s body don’t immediately subside after the baby is born. In fact, mothers often experience additional physical symptoms following childbirth. One of those symptoms might include urticaria or hives- skin reactions in the form of itchy rashes or welts which could be as small as spots or as big as blotches. Here’s what you need to know about postpartum hives. 

What Are Hives?

Urticaria or hives are rashes (pantal) that vary in appearance. Usually, they appear as raised, red bumps, but they can also be skin-colored or purplish. They are also often itchy, but the intensity varies from mild to intense. While most people develop tiny rashes, some have hives as big as a dinner plate. The shape of hives also vary, from round, oval, worm-like, to irregular. 

Why Do Postpartum Hives Happen?

Despite its name, postpartum hives may occur due to non-pregnancy-related reasons. We refer to them as such because they happen after giving birth, and some women never had them before until their postpartum phase. 


Usually, hives occur due to allergies. But, postpartum hives doesn’t mean you’re allergic to pregnancy (or to your baby). It might mean, though, that your existing allergies worsened. After all,  reports say some women tend to have worse allergic reactions during pregnancy¹

Hence, if you have postpartum urticaria, watch out for allergens. Maybe you changed something in your diet, used a new skincare product, or changed your detergent. Medications, such as antibiotics and pain relievers may also trigger urticaria. Once identified, eliminate the allergens. 


Did you know that stress can cause a person to break out into hives²? And as much as pregnancy and childbirth are joyful moments, moms also experience a great deal of stress from them. 

So, if you have postpartum hives even though you didn’t come in contact with an allergen, it’s possible that stress is the culprit. Your body has gone through a lot of changes, after all, and your bundle of joy would initiate many more changes in your life.


The fact that you’re still recovering from a (typically) 9-month pregnancy and a possibly stressful labor and delivery means your body might be more vulnerable to infections, like influenza. Furthermore, infections may also arise from your childbirth wounds. 

If you developed postpartum hives due to infections, it’s highly likely that you have other symptoms as well. For instance, you might have a fever. Specific infections also lead to particular symptoms (burning sensation during urination for urinary tract infection, itchy throat for strep throat, etc.)

Note that treating the infection should be a priority as it might worsen and cause complications.  If you suspect an infection, consult your doctor right away. 

How to Deal With Postpartum Urticaria

How long postpartum hives stay depends on the cause. If it’s an allergy, it can take a few minutes, hours, or days as the body tries to clear out the allergen. 

For stress hives, consider relaxation techniques. They wouldn’t get rid of urticaria right away, but they would help. Also, try not to get stressed over your hives.  

The good news is that most mild cases of hives go away on their own. But in case you’re worried, you can ask your doctor for an antihistamine or anti-itch medicine. Refrain from taking ibuprofen as it can cause hives, too. 

Finally, if you feel like it’s infection-related, seek medical help immediately. Consultation is also necessary if your rashes spread, keep on coming back, or do not improve within 2 days. Similarly, going to the doctor immediately is crucial if the hives are progressing in number with systemic symptoms appearing, like difficulty in breathing, dizziness, abdominal pain, vomiting, or even low blood pressure.

In the meantime, avoid using hot water when bathing, wear loose, breathable clothes, and use gentle detergent and skin care products. 

Key Takeaways

Some women experience postpartum hives, which refer to rashes that appear after childbirth. Causes vary, from allergic reactions, stress, and infection. Most cases of hives are temporary, but don’t hesitate to consult your doctor if you’re concerned about it. 

Learn more about Mothercare here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jul 31, 2023

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