It’s no secret that breastfeeding has lots of benefits for you and your baby. Unfortunately, breastfeeding is often easier said than done. Whether it’s latching problems or tiredness, there are many reasons why women give up breastfeeding earlier than they originally planned. But you don’t have to let fatigue get in the way of how you want to breastfeed. So what is it that’s making you so tired, and what can you do about it?
Do you find yourself frequently falling asleep during nursing sessions, or feeling drowsy after breastfeeding your baby? You’re not alone — and it’s nothing to worry about!
There are several reasons why you may find yourself feeling sleepy during and after nursing sessions, but there’s one major culprit: oxytocin. This is one of the hormones that is released when you nurse (and in several other situations).
When you nurse your baby, your brain releases oxytocin. This hormone makes the muscles around your milk glands contract, and dilates and contracts the milk ducts. This is known as the let down reflex, and it’s what ensures your little one is able to feed.
This isn’t the only way that oxytocin helps nursing mothers. Oxytocin also makes your uterus contract — in fact, your body produces it during labour to initiate contractions. It still causes uterine contractions after your baby has arrived. This can be uncomfortable, but it does help limit blood loss, encourage healing, and help bring your uterus back to its original size after labour.
Finally, oxytocin can make you feel sleepy and relaxed while you nurse. In addition to all the ways it helps your body during labour and nursing, oxytocin increases relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety and lowers blood pressure. So if you notice yourself feeling drowsy when you nurse, don’t worry — it’s a sign that the oxytocin is doing its job!
Oxytocin isn’t the only thing that can have you feeling sleepy. There are many other factors that can affect your energy levels and leave you feeling tired, if not completely exhausted.Lack of sleep
A full night’s sleep can feel like an unimaginable luxury, particularly during the first few weeks when your newborn baby needs feeding every few hours. An uninterrupted eight hours might not be on the cards, but don’t be afraid to ask your partner to help out during the night and give you more time to rest.Stress
When breastfeeding, especially for the first time, you might find yourself worrying about how you’re doing. Are you producing enough milk? Is your baby getting enough nutrition? But this worrying can actually have a negative effect on your breast milk flow. Remember: it can take a while for your milk flow to start up. As long as your baby is alert, active and filling about six diapers a day, you’re on the right track.Infection
Another possible cause of tiredness during breastfeeding is dealing with a breast infection, also known as mastitis. It’s caused by a backup of milk in the milk ducts, and can result in swollen, inflamed breasts. If you think you may be suffering from mastitis, consult your doctor for confirmation and advice on how to treat it.
Whether it’s illness, stress or simply a lack of sleep that has you yawning, tiredness can have a negative effect on your breast milk production. This in turn can lead to even more stress and sleepless nights: the last thing you want is to feel like you’re not providing enough milk for your baby.
This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on your own wellbeing during the hectic first months of your baby’s life. Sure, tiredness is common among nursing moms, but that doesn’t mean you just have to accept it, or even give up on breastfeeding. Here are our favorite tips for beating sleepiness and making nursing your little one easier.
This tip is popular for a reason, but easier said than done. It can be tempting to use your little one’s nap time to catch up on tasks and chores. However, giving in to the oxytocin-induced sleepiness and using this downtime to catch up on some much-needed rest can make a huge difference in how you feel!Get enough exercise
If you’re struggling to stay awake, getting into your gym gear and working up a sweat might be the last thing you feel like doing. Don’t worry: you don’t have to start training for a marathon. Even something as simple as going for a daily walk with your baby can help you feel more energized and less tired.Focus on your diet and nutrition
A healthy diet is always important, and doubly so when you’re breastfeeding. Not only because it helps you maintain your breast milk supply, but also because breastfeeding mothers need more calories. A varied, nutrient-rich diet with a strong focus on protein will benefit you and your baby.
You can also try out supplements meant specifically to support breastfeeding mothers. Multi-Mam LactaShake and Multi-Mam LactaMax are designed to support the production of breast milk and reduce fatigue, helping you through the more difficult breastfeeding days and the weaning period.