Tiredness and breastfeeding
If you often fall asleep during nursing sessions or feel drowsy after breastfeeding your baby, you’re definitely not alone.
Tiredness is one of several common breastfeeding problems and nothing to worry about. It’s not something you should put up with, though. Fatigue can harm your milk supply and trigger stress as you might worry about not having enough food for the baby. This can decrease milk production even further, setting off a vicious cycle. Unfortunately, this stress and fatigue, combined with other breastfeeding problems like sore nipples, make women give up on nursing earlier than planned. But don’t fret, there’s help for new mothers who are breastfeeding and tired!
Why does breastfeeding make you tired?
Actually, most new mothers feel tired, whether they’re breastfeeding or not. And who wouldn’t, given the sleepless nights and feelings of overwhelm from the baby’s constant need for attention? But when you breastfeed, there’s another culprit that could have you yawning – hormones. When you nurse your baby, your brain releases the hormone oxytocin to tell the muscles and milk ducts in your breasts that it’s time to let down the milk. Oxytocin also makes your uterus contract after giving birth, limits blood loss and encourages healing. It even reduces stress and lowers blood pressure. The downside being that oxytocin could make you so relaxed that you feel drowsy and tired during breastfeeding. So, if you’re starting to nod off while the baby is eating, you know that the oxytocin is doing its job!
How to beat sleepiness when breastfeeding
Try these helpful tips to combat tiredness in connection with breastfeeding and giving birth:
Ask your partner to help out at night. Your partner isn’t able to breastfeed the baby, but they can bring the baby to your breast, change the nappy and help get the baby back to sleep.
Sleep when your baby sleeps. Try to resist using this downtime to do chores and treat yourself to some rest – a nap can do wonders for your well-being. And besides, you deserve it!
Get fresh air and exercise. You don’t need to hit the gym or start training for a marathon to benefit from exercise. Just taking your baby for daily walks outside can help you feel more energized and less tired.
Focus on your diet and nutrition. When you breastfeed, you need to eat more calories – but make each one count! A balanced diet packed with protein and other nutrients will help you keep up with the baby and boost your milk supply.
In some cases, tiredness is caused by a backup of milk in the milk ducts. This is called mastitis and can result in swollen, inflamed breasts. If you think mastitis or another illness may be to blame for your fatigue, you should contact a doctor so that you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment.