There are lots of things that can make new Moms tired. You could be recovering from giving birth to your baby, struggling with an interrupted sleep schedule, busy with nappy changes and bottle feeds and sterilizing all of your baby’s items, and generally worn out from the stress of worrying about your baby.
But, the age old question still remains, does breastfeeding make you tired?
And if so, why does breastfeeding make you tired? Is it dangerous to fall asleep while you are breastfeeding? And how can you keep your energy levels up while you are breastfeeding? Keep reading to find out.
Does Breastfeeding Make You Tired?
There are several reasons why breastfeeding will make you tired. The first is a hormone called oxytocin. This is the hormone that facilitates feelings of love and bonding and it is released while a mother is nursing their baby.
It helps mothers to feel calm and relaxed, whilst also encouraging the overwhelming feeling of love that a mother has towards her baby.
This state of being relaxed and calm with your baby is enough to make you feel sleepy. However, the oxytocin hormone itself also causes drowsiness.
Another hormone is released when mothers breastfeed. This hormone is called prolactin, and it signals your body to start producing milk. But the release of this hormone has another side effect – drowsiness! So between the two hormones, your body will be struggling not to fall asleep.
There are other reasons why breastfeeding might make you tired. If you are breastfeeding rather than bottle feeding your baby, and you aren’t expressing the milk, then the mother is doing all of the feeds.
This means you have to be awake whenever your baby is hungry, which will certainly upset your sleeping pattern. If you are getting less than 5 to 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night then this can cause symptoms of fatigue.
Breastfeeding uses up energy and takes up calories from your body, so you need to make sure that you are eating plenty whilst you are breastfeeding. If you don’t eat enough then your energy levels will be depleted and you will get tired.
But you have to make sure you are eating nutritious foods- if you eat unhealthy, processed foods then your body will still struggle to get enough energy to help you breastfeed, and you will still be left feeling tired.
Certain health issues can also cause you to become more tired when you breastfeed. If you suffer from anemia (low iron levels in your blood) or thyroid problems then you are much more likely to find yourself getting tired.
It is important to make sure you get plenty of rest and to speak to your doctor about whether you need to take supplements.
Some women find it more challenging to breastfeed than others. Your baby might struggle to latch on, or your nipples might become very sensitive and sore.
Some women also suffer from conditions like breast engorgement and mastitis. All of these issues can make you feel much more tired, and may require you to seek medical attention.
Is It Dangerous To Fall Asleep Whilst Breastfeeding?
Now you know why you feel tired while you breastfeed, it is no wonder it makes you want to nap! But is falling asleep while you are nursing your baby such a bad thing?
A lot of mothers accidentally fall asleep whilst breastfeeding, but you should try not to. Whether you are in bed or in an armchair, if your baby falls asleep while breastfeeding there is a risk that they could suffocate.
You could accidentally squash your baby, or they could end up on their side with their face against a blanket or a cushion which could prevent them from getting enough oxygen. This is why it is safer for babies to sleep in a cot or a crib.
There are things you can do to try and keep yourself awake while you are breastfeeding. It is a good time to catch up on your favorite tv shows or listen to an audiobook or podcast.
Depending on which position you find comfortable to nurse in, you might have a hand free to play games on your phone, read a book, or do a crossword puzzle.
You could also use this time to catch up on conversations with your family and friends- plug in your hands free headphones and give someone a call. Another great tip for staying awake when you are tired is to keep moving.
Get up and walk around every 20 minutes, or go into a different room for a change of scenery. If you feel tired when breastfeeding, it’s important to alert yourself so you do not fall asleep.
What Can You Do To Not Feel Tired When Breastfeeding?
There are several things you can do to try and keep your energy levels up to make it easier for you to breastfeed.
One of the most important things you should do is stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, as dehydration can lead to fatigue.
When you drink water the cells in your body become hydrated and they are better able to convert your food into energy and keep you alert and moving. Water is more important than caffeine when it comes to keeping yourself awake when breastfeeding.
The other thing you should do to stop you feeling tired when breastfeeding is to eat a balanced, nutritious diet and make sure you are eating regularly. You need to provide your body with lots of healthy food that it can turn into energy to fuel your daily activities, including breastfeeding.
You can also take supplements- vitamins, iron, zinc- whatever your body is short on to help it function properly and keep you energized. If you are unsure of what supplements you should be taking then speak to your doctor.
Staying active can help you to feel more energetic. It might be challenging when you are tired, but going for a 20 to 30 minute walk every day can really improve your energy levels and make you feel less tired, as well as helping you to sleep better.
This is also a great chance for you to spend time with your baby outdoors, so get them comfortable in their pram and take them with you.
So as you can see from this article, there are many reasons why breastfeeding can make you tired. Hopefully, with our handy hints and tips, you can maintain your energy levels whilst still breastfeeding your baby and not getting tired.
And if you do find yourself feeling tired after breastfeeding, don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re doing a very special job!