Being a new mom is a joyful, exhausting rollercoaster of an adventure! And if you’re nursing your new little one, you might be wondering if it adds even more fatigue to the lack of sleep. Does breastfeeding make you tired?
It’s a good question and one that many breastfeeding moms are asking themselves. In this article, we’ll discuss the answer and offer a few tips for coping with the fatigue. Let’s get straight to it.
Table Of Contents
- Does Breastfeeding Make You Tired?
- Benefits Of Breastfeeding
- Tips For Coping With Breastfeeding Fatigue
- Combat Breastfeeding Tiredness And New-Mom Fatigue
Does Breastfeeding Make You Tired?
First, we’ll need to define what type of tired we’re talking about when asking the question, “Does breastfeeding make you tired?”
You might wonder whether breastfeeding causes short-term sleepiness or contributes to overall fatigue. Let’s address both, starting with hormones called prolactin and oxytocin.
Prolactin And Oxytocin
Prolactin and oxytocin are two hormones that have everything to do with breastfeeding because they contribute to your milk production and letdown reflex.
But you’ll notice that these hormones do more than just produce your milk. They might make you feel relaxed while breastfeeding — which can lead to drowsiness.
Specifically, oxytocin plays a role in your milk letdown. But if this hormone sounds familiar to you for other reasons, it’s probably because it’s known as the love and connection hormone. It helps you bond with your sweet little one.
As it does its job, it also has a calming effect and lowers your stress levels, which can leave you sleepy when nursing your baby.
Meanwhile, prolactin helps you make and maintain your milk supply. And, similar to our friend oxytocin, prolactin enhances relaxation and calm.
Put all the pieces together, and you can see why you may feel relaxed, drowsy, or sleepy while breastfeeding. However, don’t be too quick to blame breastfeeding for all of your new-mom fatigue. It doesn’t work that way.
There’s no doubt that breastfeeding is a lot of hard work for your body. And that’s not to mention that you’re recovering from childbirth. The postpartum period is no joke; it’s no surprise you’re tired.
Regardless of how you feed your baby (bottles or breastfeeding), you’re running low on sleep. It comes with the territory of parenting a new baby. In fact, studies suggest that moms who bottle-feed don’t necessarily get more sleep than moms who breastfeed.
Aside from the general lack-of-sleep factor, does breastfeeding make you more fatigued overall? After all, your body’s doing a lot of work to keep your milk supply up!
While your body is doing a hard, beautiful job, a relationship between breastfeeding and fatigue has never been scientifically established. Your fatigue is not necessarily dependent on how you choose to feed your baby.
Benefits Of Breastfeeding
When deciding whether or not breastfeeding is right for you, remember that it’s a very personal decision for each mother. Don’t feel pressured either way.
That said, what are the benefits of breastfeeding?
First of all, breast milk provides ideal nutrition for your baby and helps protect them from viruses and infections. It also boosts their brain development and can reduce the risk of some long-term conditions. And, if that isn’t enough, nursing provides benefits for you as well!
It reduces your risk for breast and ovarian cancer and is more economic than formula-feeding. Plus, the hormone we mentioned called oxytocin strengthens your bond with your baby and helps your uterus return to its pre-baby size.
Is it possible that breastfeeding benefits the earth, too? You bet. It’s more eco-friendly since there are no formula packages involved.
Read more about the benefits of breastfeeding here.
Tips For Coping With Breastfeeding Fatigue
Whether you’re feeling the effects of prolactin and oxytocin or dealing with new-mom fatigue, you could use a few tips for coping with the fatigue and caring for your body.
Take a look at the following tips and give yourself some credit — you’ve got a lot on your plate, and it’s normal to be tired!
1) Eat And Drink Well
What you put in your body has a huge effect on overall health even when you’re not breastfeeding. In the postpartum period, when you’re healing and also providing milk for your new baby, it’s especially important to eat healthily and drink lots of water.
Eating well while you’re breastfeeding includes consuming lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, and lots of fruits and vegetables.
For more information on a healthy breastfeeding diet, click here.
2) Take Naps
Rest, rest, rest! Since you probably aren’t getting a full night of sleep, provide your body with cat naps during the day. Even if you can’t seem to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” at least put your legs up while your baby is napping.
A midday rest can do your body a world of good. The laundry can wait.
3) Use Nipple Cream
While breastfeeding your baby is a wonderful journey, it’s not always a walk in the park. Don’t heap sore or cracked nipples on top of feeling tired. Taking good care of your skin can make you feel better overall.
Apply Nursing Comfort Balm to moisturize and protect sensitive nipples, ease discomfort, and help replenish and restore your skin during and after breastfeeding.
Keep in mind that this formula is backed by scientific research, proven safe for moms and babies, and can be used throughout pregnancy, too.
4) Get Comfortable
Get comfortable while you’re nursing your baby. If you can find a breastfeeding position that’s comfy for you, you’ll be able to relax while you nurse. This can make the whole experience less taxing.
It’s also important to find a good breastfeeding position so that your baby can latch on correctly. A good latch helps your little one get the milk they need and might prevent sore nipples.
If cradle hold, crossover hold, laid-back position, side-lying position, and dangle feeding all sound like Greek terms to you, read our article on Breastfeeding Positions. Give these common positions a try to see what works for you and your little one.
5) Speak With A Lactation Consultant
As we mentioned, your baby’s latch could be the culprit of sore or cracked nipples. If you can’t seem to find a comfortable breastfeeding position, speak with a lactation consultant. They are the pros and can check your baby’s latch as well as help you find the position that works.
Don’t hesitate to set up an appointment sooner than later! When you’re dealing with breastfeeding fatigue, the last thing you want is to end up sore, frustrated, and tired of trying.
6) Ask For Help
Just as it’s a good idea to ask a lactation consultant for help with nursing, it’s also smart to ask friends and family for help with everyday tasks.
Motherhood can be exhausting, especially when you’re nursing your baby constantly (or so it seems!). The good news is that your family and friends are eager to lend a hand. Sometimes, they simply need to know what needs to be done.
Ask for help with particular tasks so you can take some things off your plate. Maybe you need someone to cook dinner or give the house a thorough cleaning. Whatever it is, be quick to reach out to your loved ones.
Combat Breastfeeding Tiredness And New-Mom Fatigue
So, does breastfeeding make you tired?
Not exactly. But, as we’ve seen in this article, prolactin and oxytocin can make you feel relaxed and give you the sleepies while you’re nursing. And postpartum recovery and lack of sleep can definitely make you tired!
Put all that together, and the fatigue is real. Combat the tiredness and fatigue by taking good care of yourself. Eat and drink well, rest or take naps, get comfortable while breastfeeding, ask for help as needed, and apply a restorative nipple cream, such as Nursing Comfort Balm.
No matter how tired you are these days, the most important thing is your precious baby! Fight the fatigue while remembering that your little one makes everything worth it.
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