Breastfeeding and insomnia - Mothering Forums
Breastfeeding > Breastfeeding and insomnia
Lookingup's Avatar Lookingup 10:49 PM 09-23-2006
Has anyone develped insomnia from breastfeeding (either from the constant getting-up or the hormones) and then resumed sleeping after weaning?

My son was not a great sleeper. I was up every 90 minutes for the first 6 months, and several times a night for some months after that. When he was 4 months old, I realized I was not going back to sleep when he did. He's almost 13 months now, and sleeping through the night most of the time, but I still I have terrible insomnia. Natural remedies did not work (melatonin, magnesium, mineral salts, 5-HTP, PABA etc.) I'm on more Ambien than I'm comfortable with. (Ambien-CR at bedtime -- 12.5 mg -- and then 5 mg at 12:30 and sometimes at 3 am.) I've had my thyroid tested and it's normal, though I was surprised at that. I'm super skinny and keep losing my hair, so I thought that combined with the insomnia was a sure sign of hyperthyroidism.

Anyway, I've heard that the hormonal changes of breastfeeding can cause insomnia, and that its cessation can bring sleep back. Please tell me it's true. It's getting really hard to take care of my son and everything else in my life. Thomas most likely won't be weaning anytime soon... but I'd like to know there's light at the end of this tunnel.


OTMomma's Avatar OTMomma 02:15 AM 09-24-2006
How awful for you! I never went through exactly what you are talking about, but I did have all sorts of weird stuff due to bfing hormones. So I do know about things to do to regulate some of those hormones:
Take a Bcomplex and B-6 vitamins in the AM
Take probotics to help with absorption of the B vitamins (with a meal)
Give up caffine
Give up sugar

After trying those- I would see an accupuncturist and consider traditional chinese medicine.

I suggest going ahead and doing those things because for me, its been months since I weaned, and I know my body is still working on getting back to normal. There was no instant shift like I was hoping for. Oh, and none of the above suggestions are harmful to your little one.

Lookingup's Avatar Lookingup 07:51 AM 09-24-2006
Thanks, Laura. I appreciate the help. I'm doing some of those things already, but not the acupuncture. You're right -- I should give it a try.
mahogny's Avatar mahogny 09:33 AM 09-24-2006
Oh heavens, insomnia is absolutely miserable!! I really don't think there's anything worse!

I had horrible insomnia while bf'ing my son. And you're right - I had read that the prolactin can indeed interfere with sleep cycles, especially if you're prone to insomnia anyway, as I am.

What worked for me was to take 2 mg melatonin at bedtime, and drink valerian root tea. I also occasionally was desperate enough to take a benedryl at bedtime. I never got a lot of restful sleep, but I was too nervous to try any more "potent" medications.

When DS weaned, yes I was eventually able to sleep again, and it was wonderful! I think it was a month or two after weaning before my sleep cycles regulated again.

FWIW, my 2nd child, DD, is 19 mos and still bf'ing, and I don't have NEARLY as bad insomnia with her! I don't know what the difference is, really. It could just very well be that I'm better at "heading the insomnia off at the pass" as it were, and proactively taking more steps to avoid it. I drink calming tea at bedtime, and my husband massages me until I fall asleep, and when I awake in the middle of the night, I've found ways to distract myself from the stress of being awake to fall back asleep. (one of my favorites is that my husband wears a CPAP at night, so I count his breaths backward from 100.)

My thoughts are with you, Mama. Insomnia is the absolute worst!!!!
Lookingup's Avatar Lookingup 10:43 AM 09-24-2006
Thanks, Sarah.

You know... I didn't realize you could take more than 1 mg of melatonin while bfing. Maybe that would make a difference.

I have Sleepy Time tea -- I have no idea if there's valerian root in that -- but perhaps I should try it again.

It's *really* encouraging to me to hear that the insomnia wasn't as bad with your second child. Because to be honest, I was thinking that I couldn't have any more children. It's so hard to take care of one when you don't sleep.

Thanks again,