Sleep and Breastfeeding
Coping with Sleep Deprivation
It was the 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 to 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 little 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 breast feeding with one good night of sleep!
Sleep is imperative for anyone but, even more important post
pregnancy, when you are extra tired and still recovering from the
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 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
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
side-lying position. And I was able to catch some sleep while he was
My husband would help burp 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.
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 important 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.
Read more on Postpartum depression here.
Other pages on "breastfeeding problems" in connection with this page on sleep and breastfeeding
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