Breastfeeding your baby at night can be challenging, especially if you are a new mother. You will probably feel way too tired as your sleep patterns are affected as you take on this new role in life. However, night feedings can be important for your baby. If you want to make this journey easier, follow these tips for breastfeeding at night.
Challenges Mothers Face When Breastfeeding at Night
Mothers who breastfeed at night face obstacles such as sleep disturbances, exhaustion that affects milk production and overall health, and difficulty latching in the dark, says Dr. Esha Gupta, a pediatrician and pediatric intensivist at Maternity Hospitals. It can be emotionally draining and isolating, requiring more work to maintain hygiene and attention.
Why is breastfeeding at night important?
It is essential to breastfeed at night as it has several benefits:
• Nighttime breastfeeding promotes healthy growth and development of the baby by providing essential nutrients and stimulating brain development.
• It contributes to the development of a safe and solid bond between mother and child.
• By teaching newborns the distinction between day and night, night feedings help build their circadian rhythm.
• Certain hormones that promote sleep are more abundant in breast milk at night.
• Breastfeeding at night can prevent cot death.
Are night bottles unhealthy for babies?
Some women prefer nighttime bottles, but these can be unhealthy for babies.
• They pose a choking hazard, especially when babies are unattended.
• Tooth decay increases when babies fall asleep with sugary liquids in their mouths.
• Bottle feeding in bed increases the risk of ear infections due to fluid flow in the middle ear.
• Using a bottle as part of a sleep routine promotes the relationship between feeding and sleep, which may complicate night weaning and sleep training.
How can you make breastfeeding at night easier?
Breastfeeding at night doesn’t have to be a challenge. This is what you need to do:
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Place your baby in a crib or co-sleeper to minimize disruptions during nighttime breastfeeding, suggests Dr. Gupta.
2. Side position
There are many breastfeeding positions, but you should choose the one that is comfortable for you and your baby. Master the side nursing position for comfortable night feedings for you and your baby.
3. Dim the lights
Use soft, dim lighting to maintain your baby’s circadian rhythm and ease the return to sleep after nighttime feedings. It will also help you sleep better.
4. Quiet environment
Provide a quiet, distraction-free environment to help your baby focus on breastfeeding and to reduce nighttime fussiness, which can make breastfeeding difficult.
5. Comfortable nightwear
You can wear a nightgown or shorts with a loose T-shirt or pajamas. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s an easily accessible nightwear to discreetly streamline nighttime feedings.
6. Stay relaxed
If you’re stressed, practice deep breathing and mindfulness. They can help you relax during feeding and promote the let-down reflex, says the expert.
7. Take a nap during the day
You need to sleep too, so take a nap if your baby does during the day. This will help compensate for shorter and more frequent nighttime sleep cycles.
8. Bedside cooler
To minimize interruptions during nighttime feedings, keep a cooler with essentials, snacks, and water next to your bed.
Also remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Engage your partner or a lactation consultant for smoother nighttime breastfeeding and a better sleep pattern for you and your baby!