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Why Does Breastfeeding Make You Tired? How to Keep Your Energy Up

Being a caretaker 24/7 is hard, especially for a new mom or parent. In fact, it often seems impossible to find time or effort for anything that needs to be done in a day. You might find yourself extra sleepy? Or living in a constant state of fatigue.

If you are a recent mother who, after pregnancy, starts to experience a super low-energy time. If you quickly start to feel more run down than usual. Or stay tired throughout your day and need help to find the energy required. 

Let’s be honest. Most new parents are up every few hours anyway and are normally going to have their energy levels hit with a 1-2-punch!

But did you know there is another specific reason why new mothers might be feeling this way? 

Yep. If you guessed, when you are breastfeeding. A hormone involved in breastfeeding may play a huge role in some of that “down” and “drowsy” sleepiness you feel. 

Related: How to Help if Your Baby’s Nose is Stuffy

Why Does Breastfeeding Make You Sleepy?

So breastfeeding can and will probably make you tired, well, exhausted! After delivery, your body triggers the release of a hormone called prolactin, and its main objective is to inform your body that it is time to produce breast milk.

Prolactin is also responsible for making people feel overly sleepy and have extra drowsiness during the day. This could be because of its direct role in allowing the new mother to feel relaxed and calmer for breastfeeding, therefore more sleepy than usual.

Breastfeeding Tip: 

More prolactin is produced at night anyway, so if you can plan your breastfeeding and pump at night, it is a more appropriate time to feel sleepy, and it will keep your milk supply up. 

 

A baby breastfeeding.


4 Ways to Keep up Your Energy During Breastfeeding

Below are four simple ways to keep your energy up while breastfeeding your little one. 

Diet

Planning and eating a nutritious, balanced diet can help you fight breastfeeding fatigue. Producing breast milk for your baby requires a great deal of built-up metabolic energy. It is best if breastfeeding moms consume around 500 more calories a day than they would typically, and up to 2500 or more calories a day in total if you can! 

In general, a good, healthy, balanced diet is always recommended. Be sure to try and stick to a complete diet emphasizing good healthy protein. Experts also recommend keeping simple sugars down to a minimum.

Related: Can Babies Drink Juice?

If you can prepare high-protein snacks (think low-fat meats, hard-boiled eggs, beans, and veggies), you can get a portion of your daily calories in while you breastfeed to make it easier to remember. It can be as simple as keeping snacks like natural jerky, granola bars, or mixed nuts near the area you spend most of your time in.

Hydration 

Fluids for your baby means moms must also take lots of fluid in and stay hydrated. Some moms swear by taking an eight-ounce glass of water to drink whenever they breastfeed. Drinking a lot throughout the day is essential to keep up!

Pro Tip: Make sure you know how many ounces your glasses are; many are not the same, so getting a water bottle with the ounces marked might be helpful. 

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It is hard not to turn to energy drinks, coffee, or any other caffeinated beverage when you feel exhausted. But this can mess with your hydration and ultimately interfere with breastfeeding. Caffeine is also a diuretic which can leave you more dehydrated anyway. 

Best to stick to water, coconut waters, low-sugar juices, and caffeine-free teas! In total, it works out to roughly 3 to 4 liters of water a day, which is recommended for consumption while breastfeeding. 

Supplements

In addition to adding more calories, water, protein, and energizing foods to your diet, some new mothers also continue their prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding. This added boost gives confidence and reassurance that you are receiving all the vitamins you need, so the baby can too.

One additional recommendation for moms, especially if you are living on a vegetarian or vegan diet, is to focus on adequate proteins in your diet. Talk to your health professional and see if supplements are needed, like B12. 

Activity then Plenty of Rest.

First off, staying active is key to keeping up maximum energy! One study even found that people who aren’t moving enough can decrease their fatigue by over 60% with low-intensity exercises like yoga, walking, or aerobics.

Keeping moving and staying healthy also lifts your mood. Exercise stimulates endorphin production, which improves feelings of well-being and increases energy levels. Light exercise every day can promote calm and a sense of mental clarity. Relative stress levels can affect the production of breast milk.

 

A tired parent taking some time to practice yoga outside to increase their energy.

 

Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be Bad!

Please don’t overdo it, either! Too much activity can be harmful to you and the baby. The old saying goes, “Sleep when the baby is sleeping.” Chores and other duties can wait. It is essential that when you are breastfeeding, you are getting enough rest. Getting a full 8 hours of sleep can be challenging as a new parent with a lot on your plate.

Related: Newborn Won’t Sleep? Try These Tips

Behold, the power of a short nap. Although it isn’t recommended that you fall asleep while breastfeeding, you must take time out in the day to rest when you can. A 20 to 30-minute shut-eye has been known to increase energy levels and make it much easier for a new mother to manage their busy schedules. 

Conclusion

If you continue to feel drained after all the dieting, rest,, and lifestyle changes, it is always best to go to your doctor for their advice. Some nutrient deficiencies and certain disorders can cause fatigue, and Postpartum depression can make you feel tired and sluggish too. 

No matter the reason for your post-delivery fatigue, breastfeeding is a significant cause. With these small changes and prompt treatment, you can manage the symptoms of fatigue and increase your energy levels. More energy means more quality time for you, your family, and the new arrival to enjoy. 

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