Breastfeeding & Extreme Fatigue

Baby nursing from breast
Breastfeeding can cause fatigue for a number of reasons. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Breastfeeding is a healthy feeding decision that supplies your infant with the nutrients and antibodies he needs for his health, and to protect him from certain illnesses. The website Women's Health, a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, notes that breastfeeding your baby offers enhanced protection from ear infections, asthma, diabetes, stomach viruses and childhood leukemia. If you're extremely fatigued, you may be wondering if the breastfeeding benefits outweigh your tiredness. Once you know more about the causes of extreme fatigue while breastfeeding, you can determine why you're so tired and work with your doctor to find an effective solution.

Lack of Sleep

Once you have a baby, you get less sleep than you're used to. Nighttime feedings and short sleep cycles disrupt your normal slumber, which can cause fatigue. Your fatigue may become extreme if your baby eats very often, if he's a poor sleeper of if he has colic. It may seem difficult, but logging more time sleeping can help reduce your fatigue. Nap when your little one naps, go to bed earlier or ask a friend or family member to watch your baby while you catch up for two or three hours. If getting more sleep doesn't help, contact your doctor.

Infection

A breast infection, which is fairly common among breastfeeding mothers, can also cause extreme fatigue. Candace Woessner, author of "Breastfeeding Today," reports that mastitis, a breast infection, occurs when your breast tissue becomes infected, but doesn't affect your milk or milk supply. In addition to fatigue, mastitis may cause redness, tenderness, pain and fever. You're also more susceptible to mastitis if you're overtired, Woessner notes. If you suspect a breast infection, contact your doctor, who can prescribe antibiotics.

Thyroid Problem

According to the website Baby Center, between five and ten percent of women experience postpartum thyroiditis. Postpartum thyroiditis first causes an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, and then causes an under active thyroid, or hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can cause insomnia, which is one explanation for your extreme fatigue. Hypothyroidism can cause fatigue as well. If you can't shake your extreme fatigue, contact your doctor to run tests to determine if an improperly functioning thyroid is causing your fatigue. Medication can normalize your thyroid function, which may help ease your extreme fatigue.

Unhealthy Eating

If you don't consume plenty of essential nutrients, you may experience extreme fatigue. MayoClinic.com notes that unhealthy eating habits can cause fatigue. If you don't eat a variety of healthy foods, you may feel exhausted. Simple changes to your daily eating plan can remedy the situation and help you feel more energized. Eat plenty of fiber from whole grains and protein from lean meats. Drink plenty of low-fat milk and eat five to nine servings of fresh fruits and vegetables as well.

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