Given my last two posts there has been a lot of feedback from people about what might be wrong. Lots of people suggested there might be an underlying health problem, like a thyroid issue. I didn’t think so, but went to see a doctor anyway. After some visits, some tests and a couple of bills it seems there is nothing out of the ordinary. I was relieved there was no serious medical issue as the cause.
The other major suggestion was that I should stop breastfeeding, as this was a likely contributor to my fatigue. It was a suggestion that was hard to take. I’ve written before about how I love to breastfeed my child – it is something that makes me feel closer to her, and I am sure makes her feel loved and closer to me. However, after some thought I noticed that part of my “energy recovery” was coinciding with a reduction in how much breastfeeding I was doing.
With my youngest daughter becoming old enough to ween there has been a reduction in the amount of breast feeding that has been needed. In fact it is actually zero, now I think about it – I express a little but that is about it.
So maybe there is something to the idea that my tiredness is linked to breastfeeding. I had to do some research.
Breastfeeding = Sharing Your Calories
It seems obvious now, but a simple web search reveals the answer. You only get so much energy from the food you eat. If you use that energy to produce milk and then give that milk to your baby then that means less for you! Like a chocolate bar, you’re dividing up your nutrients between two people. As a result you get less, which in turn makes you feel less energetic.
That does not mean you should simply eat more, but you should try and eat better. Even if that does mean increasing the amount of food you eat, eating better foods like foods with a low glycemic index. Snacks of the right type of foods is okay, too.
Feeling Drowsy Right After Feeding
One of the more interesting things I discovered as I was doing my research was that breast feeding itself makes you sleepy. According to this page there is an gastrointestinal hormone called cholecystokinine (CCK) that increases in both mother and baby during breast feeding. The effect that CCK has is to induce a state of relaxation and sleepiness as well as feelings of satisfaction.
There is a second hormone, prolactin, sometimes known as the mothering hormone, that is released as a result of breast feeding. Like CCK, prolactin helps make a mother feel relaxed as she feeds.
Between the CCK and the prolactin hormones, breast feeding moms can feel very sleepy as the feed. CCK will make babies feel sleepy and full once they have had enough milk. Roughly 30 minutes after feeding the CCK in an infant peaks and it is an ideal time to get them to to go sleep.
Should I Stop Breastfeeding?
No, feeling tired alone is not a good reason to stop – not if you wouldn’t stop otherwise. As previously discussed, tiredness can be addressed in other ways. If you feel that breast feeding is making you so tired you are unable to function then it is fine to consider stopping but all other possible causes ruled out and any other courses of action should be considered first.
You can also read what I have to say about saying goodbye to breastfeeding here.