Sleep and Breastfeeding

Coping with Sleep Deprivation

sleep deprivation, baby breastfeeding

It was a perfect dream, I was going to be a mother for the first time, I was decorating a comfy nursery and planning to be a supermom for my son, he was going to be the angel of our lives!

But within the first month of his arrival – it became a nightmare! He would not sleep through the night and would cry to breastfeed every hour, I would ask myself umpteenth times, “Will I get a good nights sleep ever again?"

I was so fatigued and sleep deprived that everything came crashing down. Well, it dawned on me in the very beginning that sleep deprivation is part of motherhood! Sleep and breastfeeding seemed to be something that clashed a little in the beginning.

But isn’t the night time the best when you and your little one are all alone in your special world and breastfeeding gives you the satisfaction of giving your baby the best and your baby gets the much needed emotional security? I too believed the same but, sleep deprivation pushed me to a point where I could trade this satisfaction and happiness of breastfeeding with one good night of sleep!

Sleep is imperative for anyone but, even more critical post-pregnancy, when you are extra tired and still recovering from the delivery!

And then suggestions started pouring from everywhere. And sharing my problems with friends did help since I realized that it was not only about my child, all mothers need that extra energy to deal with the needs of their infants.

Formula feeding was one option, and my husband was willing to nurse our baby with the bottle during the night but, then we knew breast milk was the BEST!

The next workable thing that I tried was co-sleeping, ignoring all the myths about it. For a couple of nights, I was worried my husband would crush him but, he was equally worried about it so, we got through it.

Within a couple of days, I realized that I was less tired since I did not have to get up and pick my son up from the crib to feed him every time. By the second month, my son was comfortable being nursed in the side-lying position. And I was able to catch some sleep while he was nursing.

My husband would help burp my baby and change the diapers in between the nursing sessions. Co-sleeping also helped to increase the time intervals between breastfeeding sessions. Now he was able to sleep for 3 hours at once, and by the time he was 9 months old I would get up only 2-3 times during the night to breastfeed.

Another thing that my friends advised, was to sleep while the baby was sleeping, even during the day but, then that meant an unkept house, no washing, and cooking but, I realized that even if I take a rest of a good 30-45 minutes the moment my son goes to sleep and then take care of other things, it worked well. This rest strengthened me to do all my daily household chores. A healthy diet also played a significant role in keeping me energized. I ate well while I was breastfeeding – a wholesome diet and drinking enough fluids helped to energize me.

All children are different and behave differently so my experience would vary from yours. It is essential to understand that breastfeeding can be a challenging task for new mothers but, they can find ways through it and then it can become the most relished and treasured time of life.

Support from people around you like your husband or partner, relatives and health professionals undoubtedly helps!

Postpartum depression and sleep deprivation sometimes go hand in hand.

Sleep Aides

by Anastasia (Saint Paul, MN)

"I have insomnia and need to find something that is safe to take while breastfeeding, and that will not decrease my milk supply because I'm having issues with that too. I was taking Unisom but found out it can decrease milk supply. I tried Melatonin but that did nothing. Any suggestions would be much appreciated."

Re: Insomnia meds while breastfeeding

by: Tracy

"Some meds are used for short periods like Tylenol PM, but they can have some effects on babies such as drowsiness - they do decrease milk supply.

I would recommend you use something natural like Chamomile tea. It is sometimes used to help mothers rest or sleep better and can even help calm a teething baby. Make sure it’s decaffeinated.

A lack of iron and magnesium in your diet could also be causing insomnia. Eat more green vegetables for Iron. Magnesium sources are nuts, bananas, and brown rice.

Hope this helps."

Exhaustion and Sleep Deprivation

by Emily

"Effects so far include:


Need a nap every day to function

Have lost the ability to remember basic things, events, vocabulary

Mountains of dishes and housework add up

Not much energy to go to mom and baby events or see friends much

Dizziness. Low blood pressure. Low blood sugar. Have to eat often and stay hydrated.

Grumpy and emotional and can't plan for events.

Travel and events are a chore.

No way I could return to work right now.

Don't get much exercise. Too tired.

No time for movie or book or me time in the evening as the baby has a cluster feeding festival.

Not enough time for regular self-care.

I can't sleep in, as I have two kids to care for.

Have been sick all winter with colds and other illness partially due to lack of sleep. On fifth cold right now."

Re: Natural meds

by: Tracy

"I want to suggest a few things that helped me:

- Take your multivitamins! Especially Omega 3, 6 and 9. They will improve your mood.

- Take natural preventative meds (boosts your immune system) such as olive leaf extract, which is safe while breastfeeding. Vitamin C has also been a lifesaver for me!!

Hope this helps"

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