Breastfeeding at night can be very tiring. Early mornings and longs nights can have a huge impact on new moms. A nighttime feeding routine is necessary if your baby loves breastfeeding while sleeping. However, this is one of the hardest obstacles for moms, but it is also very rewarding and relieving.
Once you master these feeding sessions during the night your breastfeeding experience will be much more enjoyable. Also, you will be able to get more sleep while keeping your baby happy and fed at the same time. Finding your nighttime routine will require you to follow certain rules.
The Importance of Breastfeeding at Night
As you already know, breast milk is the best way you can feed your baby due to its natural health benefits for both baby and mom. However, breastfeeding at night also results in frustration and deprivation.
Exhausting late night feeds take only about 20% of your baby’s overall intake and this is why you shouldn’t give up on it. Another reason to breastfeed during the night is that your prolactin levels rise a lot at night. This milk-making hormone boosts the supply of milk you have and it makes it easier for you to breastfeed.
Frequent feeds are the result of your baby’s small tummy. However, you have to remember that each week of breastfeeding will be easier. To make this mission even easier and more enjoyable for you, you have to establish good habits and a healthy routine.
Benefits of Breastfeeding at Nighttime
Feeding your baby during the night has all the same benefits as doing it during the day, but with a couple of extra bonuses.
Your breast milk has certain hormones that your baby benefits from. Your baby will develop better sleeping patterns naturally if you feed it at nighttime. Your baby’s circadian rhythm will develop once it is about 3-4 months old. This means that your child is not aware that daytime is for wakefulness and night is for sleeping in the first few months. Creating a reliable sleep schedule for both of you can be achieved if you follow you respect your child’s hunger needs.
One of the leading causes of death in infants is sudden infant death syndrome. Breastfeeding at nighttime can protect against it. Careful monitoring and frequent waking are the best ways to avoid this from happening.
Some moms that feed their babies during the night decide to switch to formula. However, it is always better to check for all the solutions first and understand the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Your baby will be happy no matter how you feed it. It will also stay healthy, but once you weigh your options you might find out that using a bottle at night is maybe even less effective for you. There are a few downsides to using a bottle during the night:
- Difficulty digesting: You might hear of a myth that babies who are on formula sleep longer. However, that is just a myth. It is more difficult for your baby to digest formula, and its stomach needs more time to break it down.
- Overfeeding: Bottles have easier and a faster flow than your breasts. Babies usually keep on sucking due to this even after they are already full. Your baby will be hard to satisfy in the future, its stomach will probably stretch, and it can develop bad eating habits.
- More work: You just have to think about it and you will realize that offering your breast is a lot easier than preparing a bottle. Warming, mixing, and holding a bottle will take a lot more time.
However, the needs of a family differ. The most important thing is to keep your baby fed, no matter how you do it. Just keep in mind that breastfeeding can benefit your baby during the first year a lot.
Nighttime Breastfeeding Tricks
If your baby loves breastfeeding while sleeping, you will have to use some tricks to keep up with the rhythm. Making night feeding easier and overcoming these hardships can only be achieved through careful planning and sticking to a routine.
Establish a Bedtime
The night is for sleeping and you should keep it that way. If you want to make feedings easier for both of you, you have to establish a bedtime with your baby at a young age.
Breastfeeding while sleeping is when you offer your baby a breast for the last time before retiring for the night. You want to wake up your baby gently to feed, provide it with necessary nutrients and it should last through the night. Don’t be afraid if you think that your baby is nursing and latching even though it seems that it is asleep. To allow your baby to fall back asleep easily, you have to keep things low-key and calm.
You want to keep your nursing area easily accessible, organized, and tidy. The last thing you want is to fumble around in the middle of the night. Keeping everything organized will keep things peaceful so your baby can fall back asleep easily, and it will also reduce the time you spend awake.
All you need for a nighttime feed are wipes, diapers, and a pillow if you use one.
Sleep at the Same Time
You should sleep when your baby sleeps. It will be much harder for you to fight off exhaustion if you try to rest only during the night. When it comes to maintaining your energy levels, a handy rule of thumb to follow is to sleep whenever your baby sleeps. Try to rest during napping hours if you find it hard to sleep during the day.
Getting back to sleep sooner will mean minimizing the steps you need to take to feed your baby. Breastfeeding at night will probably be a lot easier for you if you try to loose-fitting clothing. Also, you can try using nursing gowns that are made specifically this – they can be very helpful if your baby loves breastfeeding while sleeping.
Share the Room
Breastfeeding in bed is fine during the night. However, you should do this only if you are 100% sure you can’t fall asleep doing it. You should take your baby back to its crib or bassinet immediately after the feeding is done.
Don’t Pay Attention to Time
This is probably the most important rule if you want to keep a positive attitude about frequent nighttime feedings. However, it will take some practice since we naturally want to check what time is it. You will have to sacrifice a few months of sleep to bond up with your little one, and this is why breastfeeding at night is exceptionally beneficial.
Breastfeeding a Sleepy Baby
Breastfeeding while sleeping is a common thing among newborns. This makes moms think that their babies are full. However, this misunderstanding can lead to late-night crying and increased hunger.
You can avoid this only if you make sure that your baby is getting enough breast milk whenever it is feeding, even during their sleep. Some babies have to be nursed up to 14 times a day. If you start noticing that your child is asking for breast about 7-8 times during the day you will probably have to start waking it up to feed.
Babies usually eat every two hours. Offer your breast more frequently even when your child is sleeping. It may suckle a bit, but be sure to come back after two hours again to try again.
Your baby is naturally relaxed when it is on the breast as it also works like a pacifier often. Pay attention and try to notice whether your baby is sucking for comfort or food. Encourage your child to keep swallowing and gently squeeze some of the milk out.
Keep everything low-key during the night, but also make sure that your baby is getting enough breast milk. Make eye contact, and try talking gently to your baby.
Include skin-to-skin contact when breastfeeding at night. This has a lot of benefits for both you and your child in terms of releasing hormones. But, your baby will also be encouraged to stay awake during the feeding.
Baby Planet Overview
Nighttime feedings are very important and something you won’t be able to avoid when your newborn arrives. You will have to sacrifice a few months of sleep to provide your baby with the necessary nutrients while it is sleeping. However, this can be exhausting and you have to know how to deal with the tiredness and lack of sleep.
There are a few general rules you should follow to maintain a healthy sleep for both you and your baby. Doing so is not hard, but you have to be persistent and make a routine that will allow you to achieve your goals.
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- Infant sleep and night feedings patterns during later infancy, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov