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Importance Of Sleep For Breastfeeding Moms

It’s a heavenly feeling, isn’t it? To hold a piece of your heart in your arms, and cherish every little thing your cherub does? 

Moms don’t usually admit the untellable exhaustion that comes with taking care of your infant 24/7.

We hear your groans when your baby cries at 2 am, just when you managed to crawl into bed. 

It can be really hard to rise after you've begun relaxing your stress-stricken body.

It’s no joke to wake up every 2 hours, feed and tend to your child when you’re running super-low on sleep and energy yourself.

50% of new moms say quality sleep is important for their mental health but seems to evade them since they delivered the baby. 

You may pass this off as being a part of motherhood, but trust us, your sleep deprivation can immensely impact you and your baby. 

Fret not, mama. We’re here for you. 

Let’s quickly get to the crux of why a breastfeeding mom cannot forgo sleep, and what you can do to catch up on the precious sleep you lose every night.

The benefits of breastfeeding for your baby | Medela

Breastfeeding and deep sleep – do they exist together?

68% of women start breastfeeding upon delivery and almost 48% continue beyond 6-8 weeks.

Since infants thrive from consuming breast milk for at least 6 months to 2 years, and they have to be fed 10 times in 24 hours,  moms like you find it hard to get some uninterrupted shuteye, even if you have help at home

Sleeping less than 7 hours over a long time may cause several risks, a few of which we’ll cover in a minute. 

Before that, here’s the good news – studies prove that breastfeeding moms have an advantage at sleep than those feeding usual milk or baby formula to their infants. 

This is because your lactation hormones when released, work their magic on your health.

Oxytocin counteracts the effect of cortisol the stress hormone, and minimises stress-related damage to your health. 

Likewise, you have prolactin that secretly boosts your slow-wave sleep helping you get the most out of the few hours you sleep.

Your breast milk contains melatonin, which helps your baby sleep fast, and leaves you time to sleep.

Importance of sleep for new moms – Risks of long-term sleep deprivation

Your placenta is a powerhouse of progesterone a hormone that looked after your sleep needs during pregnancy. 

Since you delivered your placenta as well, progesterone levels have dipped in your system, which is a major reason for your sleep troubles. 

50% of women still experience daytime sleepiness after 18 weeks of delivery, which shows how disturbed their sleep is at night. 

Here are a few risks you run if you run on low sleep for days together, especially as a new mom.

Anxiety and mood disorders

Night feeding and anxiety about the safety of the baby can take a toll on you and severely impact your ability to relax. 

When this continues over time, women are likely to develop sleep and mood disorders. 

Postpartum depression can also play a huge role in aggravating mood swings and a new mom’s anxiety. 

1 in every 10 women goes through this, and it’s proven that women who don’t get enough quality sleep are 3.34 times at risk than those who do.

Given the unimaginable exhaustion (mental and physical) you face, you may be highly irritable and may react disproportionately to situations around you. 

This is where the family’s support and understanding help tremendously.

Prolonged inflammatory responses

Sleep time is when your body restores, repairs and rejuvenates all systems. This is also when crucial hormones are secreted for healing. 

Disruption in your sleep disrupts the restoration process, and your immune system runs a risk of being compromised. 

The immune cells in your blood contain monocytes and lymphocytes which aid in immune defence and tissue repair by regulating and killing infected cells and producing antibodies.

When you wake up every 2 hours, or have a broken sleep, these functions don’t happen as they’re supposed to, which is likely to cause issues in your immunity and prolonged inflammation.

Lack of sleep also severely impairs hormone regulation. One such hormone is insulin, which when not regulated right may cause diabetes and associated risks.

Attention deficits

As you feel an influx of unexplainable emotions and live on low sleep, it’s possible that you may miss out on important cues your newborn may give, or misread them. 

Your sleep hygiene is a huge determinant of how you care for your infant. 

Supporting the sleep-deprived mom

Here are a few tips to give yourself some time to sleep.

  • Pump and store your breastmilk beforehand
  • Have multiple feeding sessions throughout the day and especially in the evenings
  • Involve your partner in the feeding process
  • Hire a nurse or get help

Get UK’s first and only smartGRID mattress that wraps around you like a cloud, supports all pressure points, allows easy movement, keeps you cool and lets you reclaim your dream sleep. Here’s how smartGRID mattresses help breastfeeding moms like you. 

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Vasantha Priya

Vasantha Priya

Vasantha Priya is a freelance content writer by day and a poet by night. She specialises in research-backed, long-form content for B2B & B2C brands. Vasantha strikes a chord with readers and drives action by establishing trust, thought leadership and authenticity. Apart from writing, she’s an English tutor and OD consultant. She also has an undying love for chocolates and sunsets.

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