When new moms say, “I am so tired all the time.” – you can hear the guilt and disappointment in their voices. They find it extremely difficult to forgive themselves for not being energetic balls of enthusiasm as they breastfeed. And they beat themselves up about it.
This is the wrong way to begin parenting.
The two most important things that children need from us are empathy and compassion. And if we cannot understand and be kind to ourselves – we will not be able to be empathetic and compassionate to our babies.
It is normal to feel fatigued while breastfeeding. And there are several reasons for it.
Why does breastfeeding cause fatigue?
- The production of breastmilk requires a lot of energy.
- Staying awake to feed the baby all night plays havoc with your circadian rhythm and is draining.
- Being on high alert all the time so that you do not miss your baby’s crying is exhausting.
- Looking after a baby is hard work 24X7.
- The complete lack of me-time causes intense fatigue.
How to overcome fatigue during breastfeeding
- Eat a balanced diet
The key to overcoming fatigue and feeling energetic and enthusiastic is a balanced diet.
The problem with breastfeeding is that the stress and exhaustion it causes, coupled with the lack of time and the erratic hunger attacks, prompts most new moms to gravitate towards junk food.
However, while junk food can make you feel good momentarily, in the long run it results in a feeling of exhaustion and depression.
Plan your meals for the week in advance and keep them ready before hunger strikes.
- Drink lots of water
Breastmilk is primarily made up of water. And the water that is required to produce breastmilk comes from your body.
If you do not drink lots of water you are sure to feel dehydrated and exhausted.
Drink half a glass of water in small sips every time you start breastfeeding.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps
Sleep deprivation is one of the most important causes of exhaustion.
You cannot sleep on your own schedule while you are breastfeeding. So, make up for lost sleep by sleeping during the day with your baby.
Also, find a safe way to co-sleep with your baby so that you do not have to do the tiring job of walking up and down to the crib several times in the night.
- Transition to breastfeeding while lying down
Sitting up all night for several months can be exhausting. Ask your lactation specialist to help you move to breastfeeding while lying down.
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you are exhausted. But a leisurely stroll can do wonders to alleviate your fatigue. Slowly include more exercise into your schedule.
- Get checked for medical issues
Medical disorders like thyroid problems and anemia which may have begun during pregnancy may manifest as fatigue during breastfeeding.
If you feel exhausted while breastfeeding – make sure you do something to feel more energetic. Because constant fatigue can make you irritable. And this can result in your baby crying more.
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD
Dr. Debmita Dutta MBBS, MD is a practicing doctor, a parenting consultant, and the founder of WPA whatparentsask.com She conducts online and offline workshops on parenting for schools and corporate organisations. She also conducts online and offline prenatal and infant care classes. She is a well-known thought-leader in parenting and an expert on play, learning and eating habits. Her books on parenting are published by Juggernaut Books and are among their most read books. She is frequently quoted in national and international publications of repute for her empathetic and compassionate approach to parenting and her application of physiology and brain science to parenting.