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Thread: Need some sleep - - how would benedryl affect supply?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Default Need some sleep - - how would benedryl affect supply?

    I have a 23 month old who is still going strong with nursing and I have no desire to stop or reduce. Problem is I am not sleeping and haven't been for a long time except a couple hours at night. She loves to nurse at night and does so off and on during the course of the night, but there are still stretches where she's not nursing and I'm staring at the ceiling. And although I dont' want to night wean at this point (although I may need to consider that), what I'd like to try right now is some benedryl at bedtime to make me fall asleep. I have a serious case of insomnia going on which has been brought about by the night nursing I believe but now I'm so used to being awake that I can't fall asleep when I first get in bed or between nursings even if she's sleeping for hours at a time, I'm just lying there awake, I guess just waiting to nurse and it's so frustrating to literally lie awake for hours when everyone else is snoring and sometimes, maybe once a week or so, I don't fall asleep for the entire night! I would love to be sleepy enough to fall asleep even if I still have to wake up to nurse, it would still be a lot more than I'm getting now, or do it while half asleep like lo seems to do, then fall asleep in between. I know from past experience (before nursing lo) that benedryl makes me very sleepy and I think it would work to accomplish just what I want. What I want to ask is how much will benedryl affect supply. And if it does reduce supply, would that just be temporary and it picks right back up after it wears off or would it have an effect that could reduce supply permanently? Does anyone know about any studies or articles related to this or have personal experience about how it affected your supply such as how much of an affect and how did it affect it long term? Also, are there other sleep aids either otc or prescription that are known to not harm a nursing baby? I've heard that benedryl is harmless to baby, I hope I'm right about that. I really don't want to stop nursing until my lo self weans so it makes me sad to consider doing anything that might inadvertently lead to long term loss of supply or even self weaning if she starts getting less and stops as a result. But I know it's not good for me or any of us to go on like this with so little sleep. If I do it I would be taking one benedryl at bedtime each night. Advice please?!
    Last edited by @llli*mydreamscametrue; August 11th, 2013 at 02:00 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Need some sleep - - how would benedryl affect supply?

    Hi, I have also battled insomnia since becoming a mother.

    I see no major issue with you taking Benadryl as far as milk production is concerned. And yes, if you did notice it affecting production you could just stop takign it and your child nursing would bring production back up.

    However, I would strongly suggest you discuss your sleep issues with your doctor, because another type of medication or approach might be more appropriate. Benadryl contains a sedative (why it makes you sleepy) but it is NOT meant for sleep problems. Any ongoing use as a sleep aid might well be problematic.

    Generally, nursing a baby at night does not cause insomnia-if anything, the hormones released when nursing help a mother sleep. (Which is probably why studies suggest that nursing mothers get more sleep overall than mothers who do not nurse.) However, motherhood and the anxieties it can awaken certainly can cause some major sleep issues. Also, many mothers who are nursing toddlers at night lose sleep over worrying about nursing their toddlers at night.

    Can sleeping arrangements perhaps be changed to make sleep more possible? If you are not bedsharing, try bedsharing? Or, if you ARE bedsharing, maybe try not bedsharing?

    I would suggest you call the folks at www.infantrisk.com for accurate information about medications and breastfeeding.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default Re: Need some sleep - - how would benedryl affect supply?

    You may already know this, but you develop a tolerance to benadryl really quickly. My husky was on benadryl off and on for years for allergies. The first few days, he'd act drugged. Then, he'd be back to his normal self. So, I don't think benadryl would help you for long.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Need some sleep - - how would benedryl affect supply?

    Benadryl isn't a long-term sleep aid. But if you're someone who gets in insomnia cycles, a few nights of Benadryl could break the cycle and allow you to reestablish a normal sleep pattern.

    If you're an insomniac, you probably already do these things, but JIC, here are some sleep strategies for insomnia:
    - No screen media for 1 hour before bed (including smart phone/tablet). The light from screens can disrupt normal sleep habits.
    - Try to use natural light in the evenings. The fading of daylight will naturally trigger your body to go into sleep mode.
    - Earplugs. Don't worry- you'll hear the baby!
    - Keep the bed for sleeping. Don't do work there.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Default Re: Need some sleep - - how would benedryl affect supply?

    Hi, mama. First of all, I am NOT a doctor; this is just my own personal experience, so you may want to check with your health care provider before starting any kind of routine use of a medicine.

    I was in your boat for several months--mostly waking up at 2 am or so to nurse, then not falling back asleep again. It is frustrating to lie there and know everyone else is asleep except you. Things like meditation, listening to relaxation music, and other things such as this did not work for me. I was hesitant to use medication like Benadryl because I heard it reduced supply. But, when my LO was around 11 months and was nursing less, I tried it, thinking that if my supply did decrease he wouldn't notice since he was nursing less, or if I did notice it I would stop. I also have allergies and took Zyrtec nightly before pregnancy/nursing, but haven't wanted to return to it. Benadryl has said to be safe for breastfeeding (see this link on antihistamines: http://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastf...s/cold-remedy/), so I decided to try it to see if it would help both sleep and allergies.

    So far, I don't think it has impacted supply. My LO only nurses 4 times/day: 2 naps, bedtime, overnight. I take Benadryl once at night after nursing him, and he will usually sleep anywhere from 5-8 hrs before waking to nurse, so there's little to no medicine left in my system at this point, I think. Overall, I feel that my sleep has improved. It is now rare for me to lie awake for hours. Is it the medicine making me sleepy or the placebo effect (I know I've taken it, therefore I feel sleepy)? I don't know, but I do know that I feel more rested during the day and my allergies are under control.

    Something else that helps is that I sleep in my own bed while DS sleeps in his crib in the next room. I find it hard to bed-share and get comfortable. But that's just me.

    Will your experience be the same? Hard to say--we are all individuals. You just need to find something that will work for you. Also, agree with PPs who recommend you see your doctor and/or therapist. It might be helpful to talk to someone who is trained to help you sort out things that are keeping you awake, either medically or therapeutically. I found it helpful just to have an unbiased, non-friend/family member person just to talk through some of the anxieties I had about having a baby, worrying about sleep, and related issues. Good luck, and wishing you lots of sleep!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Default Re: Need some sleep - - how would benedryl affect supply?

    I would consult a doctor. I wouldn't take an OTC medication for anything other than its intended purpose.

    On the lifestyle front, more vigorous exercise during the day (preferably several hours before bed) and exposure to sunlight can help prime your circadian rhythm. Fish oil can be helpful to reduce inflammation and promote better circulation. If you're not already taking one, a good broad spectrum multivitamin can assist in filling in any nutritional gaps that might be aggravating your fatigue.

    This is my non-medical opinion as a night nurser to my 21-month-old son; again, I encourage you to see a doctor.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Default Re: Need some sleep - - how would benedryl affect supply?

    Agree with above advice--get out and expose yourself to sunshine and exercise. Taking your LO on a walk or to the park will help with this. If she's anything like mine, she will keep you busy and running around! Also, resist the temptation to nap. I know everyone says "sleep when the baby sleeps," but this may be a hindrance if you are not sleeping well at night. After reading lots of info about insomnia, that was one of the recommendations; it will also help reset the sleep cycle. Some mamas like or need to nap when their LOs do, but for some with night-time insomnia, it is not as helpful in the long run.

    Other things I thought of that were recommended to me: make a list of all the things you need to do or are worried about; knowing that your paper list is remembering things for you while you sleep can allow you to rest. Have a glass of warm milk and go right to bed; this has worked for me in the past sometimes. Get up and do something very boring, like folding laundry or reading a book. For the past month or so I've read a book for 30-60 minutes before turning off the light to sleep, and I've found that if I'm wide awake when lying down to read, but the time I finish my second chapter I am very sleepy! Try to pick something that is fun but light and not too serious--I'm currently rereading the Harry Potter series; it's fun and the fantasy aspect is totally not related to the real world or any of my problems, so it's easy to get lost in it. My aunt had similar insomnia problems when nursing years ago and read the entire New Testament one year. Just find something that will interest you. I find that I look forward to the hour before bedtime rather than dreading it because I get to have "me time" with my book.

    Just remember that you once slept well, and that current bout of insomnia will eventually pass. I think the key is to find something that will help and stop worrying about getting sleep. Once you let your mind rest, your body will take over and get what it needs.

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