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Breastfeeding is One of Your Body’s Ways to Tell You to Get Some Sleep
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  • Do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night to breastfeed? While nursing causes new moms to lose out on a lot of sleep, it also works the other way around — breastfeeding your baby can be an effective way to give you some well-deserved shuteye! And there's a science to prove it.

    Breastfeeding-induced sleepiness can be attributed to the hormones the body produces during the act of breastfeeding. First, there is oxytocin, which is commonly associated with feelings of love and bonding. POPSUGAR writes that this hormone is produced by the body during breastfeeding to help a mom de-stress.

    Amy Spangler, R.N., I.B.C.L.C., author of Breastfeeding: A Parent’s Guide, tells Parents, “When the body releases the hormone oxytocin, it has a calming effect that allows nursing moms to relax. That’s your body taking care of itself: Knowing the importance of sleep, the oxytocin effect is one more example of how breastfeeding protects the body.”

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    A second hormone produced by a woman’s body during breastfeeding is prolactin. According to the Hormone Health Network, prolactin promotes lactation and is released when a baby suckles his mother’s breast. Just like oxytocin, prolactin can create a feeling of calmness in a mom, allowing her to unwind and feel at ease, then causing her to drift off to dreamland.

    Where you nurse your baby can also contribute to the sleepy feeling. Lying down to breastfeed using the side-lying position can make you and your baby fall asleep, especially at night when the rest of the house is quiet, according to Livestrong. Rocking in an armchair glider with your feet resting on an ottoman while you nurse can also relax you — the rhythmic motion and close warmth of your baby against your skin triggers drowsiness. Just watching your baby sleep may cause you to feel sleepy yourself!

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    So, the next time you find your eyelids drooping during your nursing session, remember it’s your body’s way of telling you to rest, even for a brief moment. Sweet dreams!

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