Breastfeeding is so very important for you and your newborn baby. For your baby, it is a source of nourishment and comfort. It boosts their immune system and prevents them from catching infections. It is the best food you can give your baby. For mothers, breastfeeding might promote weight loss, lower the risk of ovarian cancer, and reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Breastfeeding is also the best way to bond with your little baby (1), (2).
However, when you ask any new mom about the hardships of nursing and caring for the baby, she will be glad to tell you the daily struggles she has to face. One tough task for mothers is waking up at night to feed the baby. New parents are often deprived of sleep and would love to catch some much needed sleep in peace. But then, if your little one is hungry there is no other way but to feed. As much as we love our babies, these nighttime nursing sessions can be a real bummer. Though you can’t do away with it, you can make it somewhat manageable for sure. Let’s dive in and see how:
Understand That It Is Important
Breastfeeding is crucial to begin with, but nighttime nursing is all the more important, as there is an increase in the production of prolactin at this time. In case you’re wondering, prolactin is the hormone responsible for the production of breastmilk (3).
If you pay close attention to the milk supply, you will notice that it is the highest at night or in the early morning hours — thanks to prolactin. When you feed your child at night, the stimulation that comes from the child’s suckling helps release prolactin. Now when prolactin is released, it signals the body to produce more milk. What’s happening here is that an increase in prolactin helps keep the supply of milk going. Now, if you refrain from feeding your child at night, there is a cessation of prolactin. This, in turn, will reduce your supply of milk. It is a cycle, and all of this depends on one thing — whether or not you feed your child at night (4).
No wonder that babies naturally get the nighttime cravings which is all so important for them. Chances are that your little one has a particular time when they ring the bell to let you know that they are ready for food. The benefits your baby will derive from this nighttime feeding is immense and something you should make sure that your baby doesn’t miss out on.
Stay Close To Your Baby
Nighttime nursing is highest during the initial months of the baby’s life. During this time, let the little one sleep with you. This way, when your baby wakes you up for a feed, you can stay put and feed your child.
While this is a tip that most feeding mothers enjoy, you need to be extremely careful. Take extra measures to keep the baby safe. First, make sure your baby is sleeping on their back. The bed’s surface has to be firm to prevent the baby from rolling over to its side. The safest sleeping position for a baby is on its back, as side sleeping or sleeping on the stomach can cause suffocation and discomfort. It is also known to cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (5).
Second, make sure you don’t have unnecessary clothing around the sleeping area. Remove any stuffed toys or fluffy pillows around your baby. Finally, avoid sleeping with your baby if you are under medication that can cause drowsiness, as there may be chances of you rolling over your child accidentally.
Try Feeding Your Baby While Lying Down
Most mothers sit up to feed their children. You can practice feeding your child while you are in a sleeping position. This way, you will not have to get up and sit when you have to wake up to feed the child at night. Wear clothes that are loose or convenient for you to feed the baby. You can use a pillow to support your baby when feeding in this position. Avoid turning on the lights every time your baby wakes you up for a feed. This can ruin the baby’s sleep. Leaving the lights off can lure them back to sleep once the feeding is done.
These four golden words will be your mantra to surviving this phase. Your baby will not be a nursing infant forever, and the nighttime feeding will eventually recede. Makeup for all those sleepless nights with some midday naps. This way, you’ll have enough sleep and energy to keep you going. And always, always remember that this too shall pass.
Try To Identify The Feeding Cycle
Within a few weeks of feeding your baby, you will gradually get to know their schedules and sleep cycles. This makes things for the parents, especially the mother. Though getting up in the middle of night is never going to be something super easy, gradually it will become less hard for sure. Give yourself the time to get accustomed to the routine and be patient in the process.
Once you are well aware of the time in which your baby usually starts demanding milk, you can find ways to get up around that time. Though you could always use some form of alarm to wake you up at feeding time, loud alarms can disturb your baby and other people around you. You can utilize a vibratory alarm which is not intrusive for others.
The first step to surviving those horrible all-nighters is by understanding that although it is unpleasant, we’ve got to do it for the benefit of our little lovelies. Plus, feeding is the largest contributing factor to your child’s growth — all the more reason for you to put up with all those late-night feeding demands! It’s going to be a tough few months, but in the long run, you’ll look back on these days with a smile! Have you had some difficult nighttime nursing sessions? Share your experience with us!
- Breast feeding
- Physiology, Prolactin
- The physiological basis of breastfeeding
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: An Overview