Breastfeeding Fatigue – Reasons and Natural Ways to Treat
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The whole mommy business is not that easy, and it may seem like a herculean task if you have recently entered this phase. Breastfeeding is a miraculous and awe-inspiring journey that nourishes both body and soul during motherhood. But let’s be real—amidst the joy and bonding, there’s an unspoken truth many new mothers face: breastfeeding fatigue. It’s like a marathon for the mind and body, where sleepless nights and constant demands leave you feeling like an exhausted superhero. You may feel exhausted and wonder what may be the reasons behind that. Well, one of the reasons could be tending to the breastfeeding needs of your baby around the clock. If this is true, then you may be able to relate more to the following article as we discuss what exactly causes breastfeeding exhaustion and how you can effectively handle it.
Can Breastfeeding Make You Tired?
Does breastfeeding make you tired? If you think that it is all in your mind and you may be simply overreacting, the answer is no; it is not so because breastfeeding may make you feel tired and exhausted. To make milk, your body uses 25 per cent of its energy, which may make you feel exhausted. You may be losing 1000 calories a day just by feeding a baby; believe it or not, it is a lot of hard work.
What Causes Fatigue During Breastfeeding?
Research suggests that women with longer and more exhausting labour experience greater postpartum breastfeeding fatigue. Additionally, adequate levels of haemoglobin are seen to reduce the extent of this fatigue. More so, it was seen in a study that if mothers start breastfeeding the baby within 1 hour of birth, they experience significantly less fatigue. If you are still have your thinking as to why breastfeeding make you tired, the following are some other causes that may help you understand better:
1. Inadequate Sleep
Having at least 5-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep is very important for your body to function effectively. But this may seem impossible after the first few months of your baby’s birth as you may have to keep waking up at night to feed, change, or soothe your crying baby. This may hamper your sleep and lead to extreme fatigue.
2. Not Eating Properly
A breastfeeding mom needs extra calories and should come from healthy food items, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, etc. and not from unhealthy and junk food items. This is because food with more sugar and fat may provide insufficient nutrition and make you feel more sluggish.
If you are experiencing extreme tiredness and fatigue, the reason could also be anaemia. You may lose blood due to childbirth, making you more susceptible to anaemia. You may need to add iron supplements to your diet to overcome your iron deficiency.
4. Thyroid Issues
5. Breast Problems
A newbie mommy may be prone to breast problems such as mastitis, breast engorgement, etc. Some of these conditions may lead to pain, fever, breast tenderness, etc., and make you feel very tired. You should seek immediate medical attention under such circumstances.
Home Remedies for Overcoming Tiredness While Breastfeeding
If you’re still wondering why breastfeeding makes you tired, we have brought to you the following home remedial measures that you may effectively use to overcome tiredness while breastfeeding:
1. You Should Exercise
How can exercise overcome tiredness? Well, when you exercise, there is a boost in the secretion of endorphins which will make you feel more energised. Exercising also increases oxygen levels in your blood. Remember, only start exercising once your doctor gives the go-ahead as your body should recover from childbirth.
2. You Should Drink Adequate Water
The major component of breast milk is water. Thus, breast milk production requires a lot of water, and if you do not drink ample water, you may get dehydrated. Dehydration may lead to lethargy and tiredness. Therefore, you should keep drinking water or other fluids such as fruit juices, milk, soups, etc., to pep up your body’s fluid requirements.
3. You Should Eat Healthy Foods
You should consume a well-balanced and healthy diet to help your body feel healthy and energised. You should include more protein-rich foods as they help boost the body’s energy levels. Fibre-rich food, such as fresh fruits, green vegetables, and whole grains do the trick. Therefore, make them a part of your regular diet.
4. You Should Prioritize Rest and Sleep
Make sleep a priority by taking short naps throughout the day when your baby sleeps. Rest when your baby rests, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Consider enlisting the help of a partner or family member to take over some caregiving responsibilities, allowing you to get uninterrupted sleep at night.
5. You Should Try Herbal Infusions
Certain herbal infusions, such as chamomile or lemon balm tea, can have calming effects on the body and help improve sleep quality. Enjoy a warm herbal tea before bedtime or during breastfeeding sessions to promote relaxation and combat tiredness. However, always consult a healthcare professional to ensure the herbs are safe for you and your baby.
6. You Should Invest in Aromatherapy
Harness the power of soothing scents to invigorate your senses and promote relaxation. Essential oils like lavender, peppermint, or citrus can be diffused or applied topically (following safety guidelines) to uplift your mood and combat fatigue. However, it’s crucial to consult a qualified aromatherapist and ensure the oils are safe for breastfeeding.
7. You Should Try Self-Care Rituals
Dedicate time to self-care activities that recharge your energy and promote well-being. This could include taking a relaxing bath with Epsom salts, practising mindfulness or meditation, indulging in a soothing massage or reflexology session, or engaging in a hobby that brings you joy and relaxation. Taking care of yourself will improve your overall energy levels and combat tiredness.
What Foods Should Breastfeeding Mothers Eat to Regain Energy?
Here are some ways to regain energy and combat fatigue during breastfeeding.
1. Include Oatmeal in Your Diet
Oatmeal is loaded with magnesium, phosphorus, protein and vitamin B1, and this energy-boosting food is great for keeping fatigued at bay. It also contains glycogen, a carbohydrate that is beneficial in keeping the muscles and brain functioning effectively throughout the day.
2. Sip Green Tea
Green tea is very effective in helping you feel energised and refreshed. The presence of polyphenols helps in improving mental focus and reduces stress. Green tea is also beneficial in pepping up your metabolism, thus keeping various infections and ailments at bay.
3. Include Banana in Your Diet
Banana is an instant energy source because it is rich in potassium, which helps the body convert sugar into energy. It also has a good dose of natural sugars such as fructose, glucose and sucrose that aid in providing energy to the body. Besides this, banana is also rich in protein, carbohydrates, vitamin B, vitamin C, fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, etc., which help eliminate fatigue and tiredness.
4. Add Some Yoghurt to Your Diet
Yoghurt is a good source of proteins, carbohydrates and probiotics, which may be effective in dealing with tiredness. You may either consume unflavoured yoghurt or, if you like to add flavour, you may add some chopped fruits too. It is great for digestion and keeps it functioning effectively.
5. Say Hello to Leafy Green Vegetables
Include nutrient-dense leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard. These greens contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help combat fatigue and support overall well-being.
6. Don’t Skip on Whole Grains
Opt for whole-grain options like brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat bread, and whole-grain pasta. They provide complex carbohydrates that release energy slowly and steadily, preventing crashes.
7. Try Berries
Incorporate a variety of berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, into your snacks or meals. Berries are rich in antioxidants and provide a natural energy boost due to their fibre and natural sugar content.
8. Treat Yourself With Dark Chocolate
Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa content) as an occasional treat. Dark chocolate contains caffeine and antioxidants that can temporarily boost energy and enhance mood.
Foods to Avoid to Deal With Fatigue While Breastfeeding
While certain foods can help combat fatigue while breastfeeding, it’s equally important to be aware of foods that may contribute to feelings of tiredness. Avoiding or minimising these foods can support your energy levels and overall well-being. Here are five foods to avoid when dealing with fatigue while breastfeeding:
- Processed and Sugary Foods
- Caffeine and Excessive Coffee
- High Mercury Fish
- Allergenic Foods like nuts and peanuts or foods you are allergic to
When to Consult the Doctor?
If you have made all the possible efforts not to feel tired when breastfeeding but you still find it difficult to get over it, we recommend you seek medical help. It may be because of some underlying medical condition or nutritional deficiency. If you have symptoms of conditions such as mastitis, breast engorgement, etc., your doctor may advise you on medication for the same. However, if the fatigue is due to nutritional deficiencies, your doctor may prescribe you supplements accordingly. In some cases, postpartum OCD, postpartum depression and other mental ailments may cause fatigue, too. Talk to a doctor if you feel any abnormal symptoms or you cannot manage your fatigue.
1. Does Fatigue Affect Breast Milk?
Fatigue can indirectly impact breast milk production. When a breastfeeding mother experiences, fatigue can affect her overall well-being, including sleep patterns, stress, and energy levels. These factors may indirectly influence milk supply and letdown. However, it’s important to note that occasional fatigue is common and unlikely to significantly impact milk production as long as the mother maintains a balanced diet, stays hydrated, and practices self-care to manage fatigue.
2. How Long Does Fatigue During Breastfeeding Last?
The duration of fatigue during breastfeeding can vary from person to person. Initially, many new mothers experience a higher level of fatigue as they adjust to the demands of breastfeeding and caring for a newborn. This fatigue can last a few weeks or months as the mother’s body adapts to the changes. However, as breastfeeding becomes more established and the baby grows older, some mothers may experience a decrease in fatigue over time. If fatigue persists or becomes overwhelming, consulting with your doctor can help evaluate the underlying causes and provide appropriate guidance.
You may struggle with your new responsibilities after your baby’s birth, and it is normal for you to feel tired and fatigued. You can overcome all of this in some time; however, if you feel that you are getting too exhausted and are often low on energy, you may take your doctor’s guidance to manage your condition better.
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