Breastfeeding and Fatigue: A Mother’s Guide

does breastfeeding make you tired

Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful aspects of early motherhood. It provides essential nutrients and strengthens the bond between mother and baby. However, it's no secret that breastfeeding (and motherhood in general) can be physically demanding and emotionally taxing.

One common concern among new mothers is whether breastfeeding makes them tired. As a breastfeeding mother myself, I know all about the toll that it takes. Let’s explore the relationship between breastfeeding and fatigue, why it happens, and what you can do to manage it.

Does Breastfeeding Make You Tired?

Yes, breastfeeding can make you tired in part because you’ll likely sleep less. Additionally, the energy expended in milk production contributes to fatigue. Managing fatigue through rest, nutrition, and support can help breastfeeding mothers cope with this natural aspect of motherhood.

The Energy Demands of Breastfeeding

breastfeeding energy demands

Breastfeeding is often touted as a natural and beautiful experience, and in my experience, it truly is. However, it's essential to acknowledge the significant energy demands it places on a mother's body.

Understanding these demands can help new mothers prepare for the journey ahead and take proactive steps to manage potential fatigue effectively. Here are a few reasons why breastfeeding might lead to fatigue:

1. Frequent Feedings

Frequent feedings are a hallmark of newborn care, as babies have small stomachs and rapidly growing bodies. While these frequent feedings are essential for your baby's growth and development, they can disrupt your sleep patterns, leaving you feeling fatigued.

The irregular sleep schedule can make it challenging to achieve the deep, restorative sleep needed to feel fully rejuvenated.

2. Nutrient Drain

Breast milk production is an energy-intensive process that demands additional calories and nutrients from your body. While your baby benefits from the essential nutrients in breast milk, your body must work diligently to produce it, drawing on your energy reserves.

This nutrient drain can leave you feeling physically tired and mentally fatigued, especially if you don't replenish your body with adequate nutrition.

3. Hormonal Changes

Breastfeeding triggers the release of hormones like oxytocin and prolactin, which promote milk ejection and production, respectively. While oxytocin can induce feelings of relaxation and bonding with your baby, it can also lead to drowsiness, particularly during nighttime feedings.

Prolactin, responsible for milk production, can make you feel calm but may also contribute to a sense of fatigue as your body prioritizes the energy-intensive task of producing milk.

4. Physical Demands

Breastfeeding requires mothers to hold and support their baby's head and body during feeds. Over time, the physical demands of these repeated movements can lead to muscle fatigue and tension, particularly in the arms, neck, and back.

This physical strain can exacerbate feelings of tiredness, making it important to focus on ergonomic breastfeeding positions and consider seeking the support of pillows or cushions to ease muscle discomfort.

Managing Breastfeeding Fatigue

managing breastfeeding fatigue

I’ve found that breastfeeding can often be physically and mentally exhausting due to the constant demands it places on mothers. However, there are several effective strategies that I’ve used that have helped me manage and alleviate the associated fatigue.

These strategies have empowered me to navigate the challenges of breastfeeding while prioritizing my own well-being and ensuring I can provide the best care for my daughter. I’m sure these can work for you too. Let's delve into these strategies below:

  • Rest When Possible: Take advantage of your baby's naps to rest. Sleep deprivation can make fatigue worse, so prioritize getting enough sleep whenever you can.

  • Stay Hydrated and Nourished: Proper hydration and nutrition are crucial during breastfeeding. Drink plenty of water and maintain a balanced diet to keep your energy levels up.

  • Ask for Help: Don't be afraid to seek support from friends and family members. They can help with household chores and childcare to give you some much-needed breaks.

  • Nap with Your Baby: If possible, nap when your baby does during the day. This can help you catch up on sleep and reduce overall fatigue.

  • Practice Relaxation Techniques: Engage in relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation, to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

  • Create a Comfortable Feeding Environment: Ensure your breastfeeding setup is comfortable. Use pillows or cushions to support your body and baby during feeds, reducing muscle strain.

  • Consider Pumping: Pumping breast milk allows others to help with feedings, giving you a break and a chance to rest.

  • Seek Professional Guidance: If you're struggling with breastfeeding or fatigue, consult a lactation consultant or healthcare provider for personalized advice and support.

Breastfeeding Positions: Finding Comfort and Efficiency

breastfeeding positions that reduce fatigue

Breastfeeding positions play a vital role in ensuring both you and your baby have a comfortable and efficient nursing experience. Experimenting with different positions can help alleviate physical strain, improve latch, and enhance bonding.

When I found the breastfeeding positions that worked best for my daughter and me, a lot changed. Feeding her turned from a chore to a relaxing experience that in some cases revitalized me instead of tiring me because it was a chance to rest. Here are eight common breastfeeding positions to explore:

  1. Cradle Hold: This is perhaps the most well-known position. Hold your baby's head with one hand while they latch onto your breast with their mouth. Your baby's body lies across your stomach, and your arm supports your back.

  2. Football Hold (Clutch Hold): In this position, you tuck your baby under your arm on the same side as the breast you're nursing from. Their legs extend behind you, allowing you to control their head and neck more easily.

  3. Cross-Cradle Hold: Similar to the cradle hold, but you use the opposite arm to support your baby's head. This position gives you more control and may be helpful if your baby struggles with latching.

  4. Laid-Back (Biological Nurturing) Position: Lie back comfortably, and let your baby rest on top of you, with their body facing yours. This position allows for skin-to-skin contact and encourages your baby to root and latch at their own pace.

  5. Side-Lying Position: Lie on your side with your baby facing you. This position is particularly useful for nighttime feedings as it allows you both to relax in bed while nursing.

  6. Upright Hold: Sit your baby on your lap, facing your breast. This position can be beneficial if your baby has reflux issues or if you're nursing a slightly older infant who can sit up with support.

  7. Koala Hold (Australian Hold): Your baby sits on your hip, straddling your thigh while they nurse. This position is especially useful for mothers recovering from a cesarean section as it keeps pressure off the incision.

  8. Reclining Hold: Lie back in a semi-reclined position, with your baby on top of you. This position can be comfortable and relaxing for both you and your baby.


Breastfeeding is a demanding but beautiful journey that can indeed make you tired at times. It's important to remember that fatigue is a natural part of the process, especially in the early months. You should also consider that your lack of energy may be brought on by everything that comes with motherhood, not just breastfeeding.

Regardless of the cause, you can manage the fatigue with proper self-care and support from loved ones, and enjoy the incredible benefits that come with nurturing your baby through breastfeeding. Remember that it's okay to ask for help, prioritize your well-being, and cherish the precious moments with your little one

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Author, Founder @ Latch Luxe

Stefanie Statler

Stefanie Statler is an author and the founder of Latch Luxe, with a loving husband and daughter. She is a dedicated advocate for breastfeeding mothers and understands the challenges and joys of motherhood firsthand. Email me at

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