Breastfeeding and Postpartum Fatigue

12 Tips For Fighting Off Postpartum Exhaustion

How Does Fatigue And Exhaustion Affect Breastfeeding and Breast Milk Supply.
Take a nap when the baby is napping. Chris Fertnig/Getty Images

Breastfeeding and Fatigue

Fatigue is a state of extreme tiredness or exhaustion. When you feel fatigued, you may also feel weak, weary, sleepy, and/or dizzy. Many things can cause fatigue. For new mothers, the most common causes are doing too much, and not getting enough sleep.

As a new mom, it's only natural that you'll feel tired. Healing from childbirth, taking care of a newborn, producing breast milk, and breastfeeding every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day and night, can consume a good amount of energy.

Now, on top of all that, add taking care of a home, other children, and work responsibilities, and there's no question as to why you might become overwhelmed and exhausted.

Some amount of sleep deprivation is normal for all new moms. But, extreme fatigue can impair your judgment and make it more difficult, or even dangerous, for you to care for your child. Exhaustion can also get in the way of successful breastfeeding. Not only can it make you feel like giving up on breastfeeding, but it can also lead to a low supply of breast milk and mastitis (a breast infection). For these reasons, it's so important to try to prevent fatigue right from the start.

12 Tips For Fighting Off Postpartum Exhaustion

  1. Get as much rest as you can.
  2. Take a nap when your baby is napping.
  3. When it's time to nurse your baby, get as comfortable as possible. Sit with your feet up, or breastfeed in the side-lying or laid-back nursing position.
  1. If you have to care for other children, ask for help from friends and family members.
  2. Ask your partner to help with household chores and older children, too.
  3. If you can afford it, consider hiring someone to help with the housework.
  4. If you don't have any help, let the housework go for a while. You can catch up when you're feeling up to it.
  1. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to keep your energy level up. You'll need extra calories while you're breastfeeding, so include some high-protein snacks throughout the day.
  2. Get enough fluids and stay hydrated. However, avoid drinking too much caffeine.
  3. Ask your doctor if it's safe to start some light exercise. Exercise can help boost your energy level and your mood. But, don't overdo it, or it can make you feel even more tired.
  4. Try brewer's yeast. This nutritional supplement is used to help fight fatigue. It is also believed to increase the supply of breast milk.
  5. Try to remember that the newborn period doesn't last too long. As your baby gets older and begins to sleep for longer periods, you should be able to get more rest.    


When To Call The Doctor

If you are finding it difficult to fight off fatigue, and it continues even with good nutrition and rest, it's time to contact the doctor.  Your doctor can examine you to determine if something else is causing your symptoms.  Other causes of fatigue include: 



American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Amir Lisa H. and The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee. ABM Clinical Protocol #4: Mastitis. Breastfeeding Medicine. June 2014, 9(5): 239-243.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.