When it comes to getting your baby to sleep and making sure they have enough nourishment at night, breastfeeding can present its own set of obstacles. The good news is that there are things you can do to make overnight feedings less stressful and more restful for you and your baby.
This post will go through the benefits of nighttime nursing, how breastfed babies typically sleep, how to prepare for overnight feedings, and how to get more sleep overall. With these guidelines in mind, moms can receive the rest they need while breastfeeding at night.
Normal Sleep Patterns of Breastfed Babies
When it comes to sleep, newborns have unique requirements than older babies. Newborns typically sleep 16–18 hours a day for the first few months of their lives. Their sleep will likely be fragmented into shorter intervals of one to three hours throughout this period. They will start sleeping for longer periods of time (about four to five hours) as they grow.
For exhausted mothers who need a break, this may come as welcome news. Babies who are breastfed have been observed to wake more frequently throughout the night than newborns who are formula-fed.
Why Breastfeeding at Night is Important
Establishing a regular feeding and sleeping cycle for your infant includes breastfeeding at night. It can make your baby feel safe and secure, increase your milk production, and teach them to fall back to sleep on their own if they are awakened in the middle of the night. And yes, you can get some quality snuggle time with your newborn during these nighttime feedings.
The demands and health of your baby, the temperature, and the time of day are just a few of the many variables that have been shown to affect breastfeeding. Most mothers' breast milk will have a higher fat content during day time. Cluster feeding, in which a baby has several little meals at once, is common in the evening because it helps young infants get through the day and into their longest sleep of the night. In the early months, cluster feeding may continue until night time which can be exhausting for any mom.
The hormone prolactin peaks during the night. So, your body receives a more powerful signal to increase milk production when your baby eats frequently throughout the night. Tryptophan, which is abundant in breast milk at night as well , aids in the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, which in turn aids in the establishment of a healthy circadian rhythm.
Preparing for Nighttime Feedings
A newborn baby's nighttime feedings may take a while. Some of the moms in our team advised downloading a book or two on your phone, tablet, or Kindle so you can read during feeding. It will make these long feeding sessions more bearable for you! Alternatively, you can listen to your favorite bands or podcasts. The key is to stay relaxed, which will improve your mood and make it easier for you to get back to sleep after nighttime feedings.
Make the most of the daytime hours to nap. Napping when the baby naps can make a tremendous impact, but it can be a huge challenge if you have more than one child. You and your partner might be able to take turns watching the baby on the weekends so that both of you can catch some extra shut-eye. Don't be afraid to ask for help or speak up!
Furthermore, have everything ready beforehand so you don't have to go searching for items in the middle of the night - diapers, wipes, burp cloths should all be easily accessible!
Strategies to Help You Get More Sleep
Even though you knew it was going to happen, the reality of being on-call 24 hours a day for your hungry infant can be a bit of a shock. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as clocking out or sleeping for eight hours straight when you're breastfeeding. Don't worry, though! There are techniques to make breastfeeding at night less difficult.
- First thing first–You need to take care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup! It's important to stay hydrated if you're going to be up at night to feed your little one. Do not forget to hydrate by keeping a water bottle near you. If you find yourself hungry before or after breastfeeding, it's best to avoid eating anything too sugary lest it prevent you from falling asleep. Eat a banana instead! The sleep-inducing enzyme tryptophan is found naturally in bananas, making them an excellent choice.
- Try hiding the time by covering your clock. Knowing that you've only gotten an hour or two of sleep since the baby last woke you up just makes things worse. It’s best not to turn on any light when you are breastfeeding your little one. But if you have to, use a nightlight or let some light from the corridor in. If your baby is exposed to light at night, their internal clock will think it's daytime, and they'll want to stay awake.
- Use clothing that is designed for breastfeeding: button-down nightgowns or tops for easy access. Avoid wearing a bra, even if it’s a nursing bra. Doing so can increase a nursing mom’s risk for mastitis.
- The room doesn’t need to be super quiet while breastfeeding as well. Some white noise is highly recommended. Infants can be soothed by white noise, helping them to quit fussing and go to sleep more quickly. White noises include a whirring fan and the hum of the air conditioner. You can also play some soothing sleep music to help them (and you) get to sleep faster.
- If you’re comfortable with certain positions while breastfeeding but lack the support, take advantage of your babybub maternity pillow. There are many ways a pregnancy pillow can help while feeding your baby. You can use it to lay baby on top so they can reach your breast easily or you can simply use the pillows to support your back and hip.
- Time your diaper changes so there’s no need to change even if they woke up for feeding. Diaper changes in the middle of the night are known to make falling back asleep more difficult for them. So, make sure to change only before feeding or during feeding.
Feeding infants is quite exhausting and can drain any new mom, but with these tips, you’ll hopefully find it easier to get the nap you need. Enjoyed this post? We have more for you! Don’t forget to subscribe to our emails so you can get notifications when there are new posts to help you during pregnancy and beyond.