Fatigue During Breastfeeding - Everything You Should Be Aware Of

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Lack of sleep and fatigue during breastfeeding are common complaints among mothers. This could be compounded by the general fatigue that may usually occur after childbirth, known as postpartum fatigue.

Your body uses energy to break down your food to make various breast milk components. In addition, sleepless nights and an inconsistent diet might make you more tired. However, this fatigue is not a long-term concern and usually resolves after a few weeks.

This post discusses why a woman feels fatigued when breastfeeding and how to deal with it.

And Here, We Talk About Breastfeeding And Fatigue – Why It Occurs And How You Can Deal With It. So, Just Read On Our Post Below:

What Causes Fatigue During Breastfeeding?

Here are some of the possible causes of fatigue while breastfeeding:

1. Lack of sleep:

  • After your delivery, you may not get adequate rest and sleep due to having to wake up through the night for feedings and diaper changes.
  • The constant disruption in your sleep cycles from feeding and taking care of your newborn will cause you to suffer from fatigue.
  • Your chances of experiencing severe fatigue are high if your baby has colic, is a poor sleeper, and/or needs breast milk more often, i.e. is born small or prematurely.
  • Most doctors suggest you take a nap whenever your little one naps. You can also ask a family member or friend to watch over your baby, and older children, so you can get a “power nap” for two to three hours.

2. Infections:

  • A breast infection during lactation can lead to severe fatigue.
  • Mastitis is an infection that occurs when your breast tissue gets infected with harmful germs. Although mastitis causes mothers to feel ill it does not usually affect milk supply.
  • In addition to fatigue, mastitis can even induce several other symptoms, including , breast tenderness, redness, pain, or high fever.
  • Seek medical guidance, if you encounter any of the above symptoms. Doctors often need to prescribe antibiotics to treat mastitis.

3. Thyroid problems:

  • Postpartum Thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland) may cause hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Postpartum thyroid problems can affect mothers’ sleep, cause insomnia, and lead to severe fatigue.
  • If your doctor checks your thyroid function labs and finds they are abnormal, they will prescribe medication to normalize your thyroid gland functioning and help you feel energized.

4. Unhealthy eating habits:

  • During breastfeeding, it is essential to make sure your diet is balanced and full of vitamins and other important nutrients to help you stay full of energy.
  • Unhealthy eating habits, like greasy foods or junk foods, can exhaust you and make you sluggish.
  • Try to eat fiber-rich foods, protein, calcium, and iron during your lactating phase.
  • Dehydration from not drinking enough fluids while breastfeeding can also make mothers feel tired and sluggish.

5. Anemia:

  • Another cause of fatigue during lactation is anemia, which is a low red blood cell count. The blood loss that occurs during childbirth can trigger anemia.
  • To overcome anemia, you will likely need to take iron supplements and eat iron rich foods like beans, chickpeas, lentils, lean red meats, seafood, and iron-fortified cereal (1).

Natural Ways To Regain Energy While Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the best way to feed your newborn baby, and ensure that your little one will get all of the nutrients needed for her growth and development. But breastfeeding often makes moms feel tired, fatigued and sluggish.

Here are some effective natural ways to boost your energy while you are nursing:

1. Eat Right:

  • You need to ensure that your daily diet is full of healthy nutrients and minerals that supply adequate energy to your body.
  • Include protein in your diet, as it boosts your energy level naturally. Some of the best protein-rich foods that you can eat while breastfeeding are lean meats, milk, nuts, cheese, seeds, fish, and legumes.
  • Foods rich in fiber content can also enhance your energy level and help you get rid of digestive problems. Some of the best fiber-rich foods are whole-wheat bread and pasta, fruits, vegetables, and brown rice.

2. Drink plenty of water:

  • Not drinking enough water can dehydrate you, which drains all your energy, leading to fatigue.
  • During breastfeeding, you feel thirstier than normal, and drinking enough water keeps you energized and also quenches your thirst.
  • You should aim to drink at least 12-13 cups of water every day during breastfeeding and keep yourself hydrated.

3. Exercise:

  • You may think that physical activity will drain your energy and may make you feel fatigued and tired, but healthy exercise will actually boost your energy level.
  • Light exercising during breastfeeding elevates your energy level and helps you fight against fatigue, stress, and depression.

When To Visit The Doctor?

If you continue to feel exhausted and tired while breastfeeding, even after making healthy lifestyle and dietary changes, you will need to visit your doctor. As discussed earlier, nutritional deficiencies can cause fatigue during lactation, and the doctor may prescribe supplements accordingly. Postpartum depression can also make new moms feel fatigued, sad, and lose interest in participating in favorite activities. If you have any concerns that you might be depressed please talk to your medical specialist about possible treatments for depression.

Best Foods To Eat To Fight Fatigue During Breastfeeding:

Here is a complete list of super food that you can consume during breastfeeding to help overcome fatigue:

1. Bananas:

  • Bananas are a rich source of potassium that your body needs to convert sugars (carbohydrates) into energy.
  • Bananas also contain a high percentage of healthy nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and carbohydrates. All these nutrients help you beat fatigue, tiredness and dehydration during breastfeeding.
  • The natural sugars present in bananas, like fructose, sucrose, and glucose, serve as a quick energy booster.
  • You can safely consume 1 to 2 bananas daily or even enjoy a delicious banana shake or smoothie to elevate your energy level.

2. Green tea:

  • Drinking a cup of refreshing green tea can help you fight fatigue and stress associated with having a new baby.
  • Green tea contains a high concentration of polyphenols that help to stress, improve your mental focus, and boost energy.
  • The essential components of green tea can stabilize your metabolism and bolster your immune system, protecting you from infections.
  • To make a cup of homemade green tea, you can steep one tsp. of green tea in a cup of hot water. Strain the tea into a cup and add honey to flavor it. Drink green tea at least 2-3 times a day to feel refreshed and energized.
  • One word of caution is to make sure that the green tea you drink does not contain caffeine or herbs that may be harmful to your baby, such as ginseng or ginkgo.

3. Oatmeal:

  • Oatmeal helps to fight fatigue. It contains quality carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, which fuels your brain and muscles for the entire day.
  • Other energy-boosting nutrients present in oatmeal, like phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin B1, and protein, help you feel energized.
  • Oatmeal also contains a high concentration of fiber, as a super food in improving your digestive health.

4. Yogurt:

  • The carbohydrates, protein and probiotics present in yogurt help to fight the symptoms of fatigue.
  • Yogurt also helps to improve your digestive health.
  • You can eat fat-free yogurt anytime of the day. If you do not like the flavor of plain yogurt, you can add fresh fruits, seeds, nuts, and or granola to prepare a homemade smoothie.

Fatigue during breastfeeding is a common complaint in women. This may happen due to disrupted sleep, breast infection, or unhealthy eating habits. However, since breastfeeding is essential for infants, mothers cannot avoid it. So, they need to find other ways to overcome their fatigue. They may do so by eating a well-balanced diet, drinking adequate water, and exercising regularly. You may also include foods such as bananas and oatmeal to provide the nutrients that help combat fatigue. However, consult a doctor if you cannot manage your fatigue even after changing your lifestyle.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Stacey Callahan et al.; (2006); Fatigue and breastfeeding: an inevitable partnership?
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16684906/
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Jessica Albert

Jessica Albert is a passionate writer who seeks to connect with her readers through wit and charm. Her work aims to invoke curiosity and keep the readers engaged through and through. She has prior experience working with magazines and e-commerce establishments as a content marketer and editor. Being a mother herself, she puts all her knowledge into creating content about... more

Dr. Jessica Madden

(MD, FAAP, IBCLC)
Jessica Madden is a pediatrician, neonatologist, lactation consultant, and mother of four, who has been taking care of newborns since 2001. She works as a neonatologist in the NICU at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, and founded Primrose Newborn Care, a newborn medicine and “4th trimester” home-visiting and telemedicine practice, in 2018.  Dr. Madden is a Fellow... more