Parenting comes with its many ups and downs. There is no denying that bringing a bundle of joy home is a big highlight for any mother. But every gift comes with equal responsibility.
One of the many things you have to sacrifice when having a baby is sleep. Many mothers have experiences of waking up in the middle of the night to feed a crying infant. And for new and inexperienced parents, it sounds like a nightmare!
But you don’t have to be cranky and sleepy while breastfeeding your baby. In this survival guide, we’ll go through the benefits of nighttime nursing and how you can avoid accidentally falling asleep.
Why Do I Need to Feed My Baby at Night?
Most adults follow the pattern of sleeping in the night and being awake in the day. But for babies, this concept is foreign for them.
A baby won’t develop a circadian rhythm until 3-4 months. So for the first few weeks, your baby has no concept of what day and night is. So any time for them is feeding time.
And it’s essential to keep your baby well fed. Your infant has a small stomach that can go empty very quickly.
But don’t feel too gloomy about having to feed your tot at night. Breastfeeding in later hours have their benefits.
Breastfeeding at night helps your infant establish a better sleeping schedule. Frequent monitoring and feeding also prevent SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Plus, prolactin levels are at their highest at night, so it’s a waste to not use them for your child.
Why Do I Feel Sleepy While Breastfeeding?
Of course, there are also downsides when it comes to nighttime feeding. And the biggest is your sleep (or lack thereof.)
But why do you feel sleepy while breastfeeding? Whenever you breastfeed your child, your body releases oxytocin (aka, the love hormone.) Oxytocin produces a feel-good sensation for any nursing mother. And that sensation comes with side effects, including sleepiness.
And it’s not only hormones that make you want to hit the hay. The constant stress that parenting brings can make even the toughest of moms exhausted. So it’s no surprise that you find yourself yawning more at the end of the day.
The Dangers of Falling Asleep While Nursing
In a study about nighttime feeding behavior, 72% of mothers say that they fell asleep in bed while nursing their babies. Meanwhile, 44% reported falling asleep while on a chair, recliner, or sofa.
While common, the practice of accidentally falling asleep while nursing can be dangerous. Babies are at a higher risk of SIDS. They can also slip and fall from their mother’s grasps.
Always stay awake while nursing your child. Being conscious keeps accidents away and your baby safe.
How Can I Stop Falling Asleep While Breastfeeding?
It’s understandable if you’re having a tough time keeping your eyes wide open at night. But there are many ways to stop yourself from untimely dozing off. Here are some tips to make nighttime nursing more bearable:
Do Room-Sharing Instead of Bed-Sharing
Sharing a bed can bring you closer to your baby, but it can lead to suffocation or SIDS if done incorrectly. A safer alternative is to room-share instead. Keep your infant’s crib or bassinet in the same room so you can check on them at any time.
Have a Self-Care Routine
Losing sleep can make you feel tired and cranky. So make sure to give yourself self-care when you’re not caring for your child. Doing something relaxing can keep you from getting more exhausted during nighttime nursing.
Rest While Your Child is Resting
This tip sounds logical in theory, but it is difficult in practice. However, you can still try getting some rest when your infant is resting. Having a few power naps is better than nothing.
Have a Small Activity During Your Awake Time
Find a small (and not overtaxing) activity to drive the drowsiness away. It can be reading a novel, watching one episode of your favorite show, or playing casual video games. Hey, it beats staring at a dark wall all night.
Grab a Midnight Snack
What’s worse than being sleepy? Being hungry, of course! Don’t push those night cravings away; your body needs fuel to stay awake. Have a small biscuit or bowl of fruits to keep your hunger pangs at bay.
Another thing you want to avoid while staying up is being thirsty. Keep a bottle beside you at all times and replenish any lost water. Plus, a trip to the bathroom can keep you awake and running.
Consider A Nursing Shirt or Gown
A maternity shirt or gown can make breastfeeding less of a hassle. These clothes allow easy access to your chest for your infant. Interested? You can find many shirts and nightgowns on Amazon today.
Have Naps in the Morning
You’re not getting that much sleep during the night, so why not refuel during the day? Your daily schedule may look busy, but you should still try to squeeze in an hour or two of sleep every day. A quick siesta can give you the boost you need.
Seek Support from Loved Ones
Finally, don’t be shy to ask your partner, other family members, or friends for help. They can join you during your nightly routine or help out while you rest in the morning. Many people are ready to help you during your parenthood journey.
These are a few tips to keep you awake at night while nursing. Find a good routine where you and your infant feel comfortable.
Nighttime nursing can have its benefits when raising an infant. However, it can be difficult for many moms to keep their eyes wide open. A baby’s sleep cycle is everchanging, and mothers have no choice but to adapt.
But nursing at night doesn’t have to be a tiresome task. Having frequent naps during the day, creating bedtime routines, and doing tasks while nursing can help you stay awake.
Nighttime nursing means sacrificing your sleep for your infant. But that sacrifice always equals a safe and healthy child.