Breast/Chest Feeding & Sleep Deprivation

Updated: Feb 10

“No one told me it was going to be like this”

“How long does baby need to feed every 3 hours”

“I’m exhausted”

“If only my partner could breast/chest feed too”

“I feel like I am the only one that can console her/him”

“I feel like all I do is feed her/him”


Have you ever had any of the above thoughts or feelings? Well if you have, you are not alone. Breast/chest feeding is work and often a lot of work that takes a lot of energy both physically and mentally. Did you know you burn off approximately 500 calories a day with breast/chest feeding?


Even though your body was meant to provide nourishment and safety to your baby, it

does not come without having mixed emotions and those emotions can change on a daily basis. Often mothers don’t talk about the sleep deprivations to their friends, maybe it’s because they blocked it out, maybe it’s because it ended, or maybe it’s just because they don’t want to scare their friend and want to try to keep experiences as positive as possible. There are many factors but it still does not come without parents feeling like they are alone.


Infants, especially under 6 months of age do spend the majority of their time either eating or sleeping and sometimes it feels like the latter is hardly there! Especially when you need it yourself, and it is okay to feel like that because you too are tired and exhausted. Remember though, this too is a stage/phase and will not last forever and you and your baby will eventually find a routine that works for the both of you. The old saying “sleep when your baby sleeps” is not ideal so instead think of it as “rest when your baby sleeps”. Rest can look differently for some. It may in fact be napping yourself, it may be putting your feet up and having a cup of tea or coffee, taking a bath, or eating. Whatever that may look like for you may be different for someone else. It may often feel like you are alone and that anytime your baby needs something, it usually involves your

boobs, but know that is their comfort too, not just their food.


Be patient with your baby and be patient with yourself. One day this will be past tense and you will smile thinking “I never thought it would end”!! and your baby will be smiling right back at you! Take things “feed by feed and day by day” and you will get through it!


Nicole Ahmed RN, BN, MSN, IBCLC

Nicole is the owner and director of the Calgary Breastfeeding Centre. She is a Masters prepared Registered Nurse and a International Certified Lactation Consultant. Nicole is also married to her high school sweetheart and is the mother of two beautiful children.

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