Does Breastfeeding Make You Tired? Keeping Energy Levels Up with a Newborn

Tired Mom and Baby Rocking to Sleep in Rocking Chair - KeepsakeMom

Does Breastfeeding Make You Tired? Keeping Energy Levels Up with a Newborn

Having a new baby is an exciting time! But as joyful as it is, taking care of a newborn can also turn your world upside down.

Juggling dirty diapers, sleep schedules and postpartum hormones in the months after delivery can be downright exhausting. It’s no wonder that many new moms feel tired most of the time, including when they’re breastfeeding.

All of this is to say, if you’ve ever wondered if breastfeeding makes you tired, you’re not alone. Let’s take a closer look at why it’s common to feel tired when breastfeeding and the steps you can take to fight fatigue as a new mom.

Why is Breastfeeding so Exhausting?

It’s completely normal to feel tired when you’re breastfeeding. As your baby’s main source of nourishment, it can be tiring doing feedings every two hours. The majority of breastfeeding moms experience tiredness and fatigue during the postpartum period due to a lack of sleep, stress and other factors.

However, sleep deprivation is just one reason why you may feel tired when breastfeeding. Speaking to Romper, certified breastfeeding specialist Sterling Grey-Simmons explains that after giving birth, your body releases a hormone called prolactin that signals your body to start making breast milk. This hormone helps you make and maintain your milk supply, but it can also cause drowsiness. 

More specifically, prolactin can help reduce stress and anxiety, but in turn, this can make you feel sleepy. And when you already feel exhausted for other reasons, it can make you extra tired or ready for bed.

Other Side Effects of Breastfeeding: Understanding Sleep-Related Symptoms

While every mother’s experience with breastfeeding is different, there are a handful of other side effects of breastfeeding that can make you feel exhausted or fatigued. Here are a handful of other symptoms you may experience on your breastfeeding journey according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chapped or Sore Nipples

During the first few weeks of breastfeeding your nipples may be sore as you adjust to your baby latching and suckling. Similarly, they may become dry or chapped which can be uncomfortable.

Postpartum Depression

These intense feelings of sadness, worry and fatigue are believed to affect around one in seven women, according to research published by the National Library of Medicine. However, that number may be higher since many women may not realize they are experiencing more than the “baby blues” or don’t want to share their struggles.

Postpartum depression can leave you feeling discouraged and tired, making breastfeeding difficult.

Soreness and Pain

Breastfeeding can be a precious time for you and your baby to bond, but it can also be painful. Your breasts may feel tender and uncomfortable and clogged milk ducts or an improper latch can hurt. Similarly, you may experience back, wrist or chest pain as you adjust to new positions.

All of these side effects of breastfeeding can contribute to you feeling more tired and exhausted, which can make feeding your little one difficult.

4 Main Ways to Help Breastfeeding Fatigue

Tired mom breastfeeding baby in bed

If breastfeeding is making you tired, there are some easy steps you can take to fight off the fatigue as a new mom. These simple changes can do wonders for your mind and body to make breastfeeding a positive experience for you and your baby.

Get Enough Sleep

Do you need more sleep when breastfeeding? It’s hard to say! The Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night, so this is a good rule of thumb to follow. 

For nursing moms, it can be difficult and impossible to sleep for this long a stretch when your newborn needs to be fed every two hours. The emphasis during this time should be on getting enough sleep to get through the day. Naps may be your best friend so you can sleep when baby sleeps.

Stay Hydrated

As a new mom, it’s more important than ever to make sure you stay hydrated. Since you’re providing your baby with fluids, you need more yourself! As a nursing mom, you should be drinking around three to four liters of water a day (more than usual) to keep your supply up. 

Increasing your water intake can also help you feel refreshed and awake. While it can be tempting to reach for a coffee, you should consider limiting your caffeine intake since it can leave you dehydrated.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

You need extra calories as a breastfeeding mama! After all, your body’s working overtime to provide you and your little one with the necessary nutrients. That’s why it’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet. 

The Mayo Clinic recommends making healthy choices like lean meat, eggs, dairy, beans, lentils and seafood low in mercury which are all packed with protein. And, of course, include a variety of whole grains as well as fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Take Time for Yourself

Finally, we can’t forget to mention the importance of taking care of yourself! Self-care as a new mother isn’t selfish. In fact, taking care of your physical, mental and emotional health is critical to ensuring you can also look after your baby. 

Parents Magazine gives some great advice for new mothers looking for ways to keep themselves feeling their best. Most importantly, it’s important to take time for yourself and do the things you love. Whether that’s reading a book or taking a short walk for some fresh air, these moments of self-care can help energize you.

In-the-Moment Tips for Breastfeeding Moms

A few practical adjustments to your day-to-day can naturally infuse more energy into the breastfeeding journey. Dive into these actionable tips to combat that all-too-familiar breastfeeding fatigue:

  • Grab a nutrient rich snack
  • Nap when baby naps
  • Get out of bed when not napping or resting to stay active
  • Ask for a break from someone in your support system
  • Take a few rounds of deep breaths
  • Listen to energizing music to boost mood
  • Stretch or move the body
  • Drink green tea
  • Change up nursing positions
  • Call a friend to stay in a positive mindset
  • Apply a cold compress to the face
  • Apply nipple cream for comfort

Celebrate Your Breastfeeding Journey

Breastfeeding can be an exhausting experience, but also an incredibly rewarding one. A piece of breastmilk jewelry is a great way to commemorate the bond you’ve created with your baby. This unique piece of jewelry is something you’re sure to cherish for decades to come and will always remind you of the time spent breastfeeding your baby. Choose from rings, bracelets, charms & beads, necklaces, earrings, and even matching sets! Explore one-of-a-kind breast milk jewelry at KeepsakeMom today.

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