Breastfeeding your baby at night can feel challenging, especially if you are a new mom. You are likely to feel way too tired as your sleeping pattern gets affected when you take on this new role in life. However, night feeds can be important for your baby. If you want to make this journey easier, follow these tips for breastfeeding at night.
Challenges moms face while breastfeeding at night
Mothers who breastfeed at night face obstacles such as sleep disturbance, exhaustion that affects milk production and overall health, and trouble latching in the dark, says Dr Esha Gupta, Consultant Paediatrician and Paediatric Intensivist, Motherhood Hospitals. It can be emotionally draining and isolated, requiring more work to maintain hygiene and attentiveness.
Why is breastfeeding at night important?
It is essential to breastfeed at night since it has several advantages:
• Nursing at night helps the baby’s healthy growth and development by supplying vital nutrients and stimulating brain development.
• It contributes to the development of a secure and solid mother-child attachment.
• By teaching newborns the distinction between day and night, night feedings help to build their circadian rhythm.
• Certain hormones that promote sleep are more abundant in breast milk at night.
• Nursing at night can prevent sudden infant death syndrome.
Are nighttime bottles unhealthy for babies?
Some women prefer nighttime bottles, but they can be unhealthy for babies.
• They pose a choking hazard, especially when babies are lying unattended.
• Tooth decay increases if babies fall asleep with sugary fluids in their mouths.
• Bottle-feeding in bed raises the likelihood of ear infections due to fluid flow into the middle ear.
• Using a bottle as part of a sleep routine fosters a feed-to-sleep association, potentially complicating night weaning and sleep training.
How to make breastfeeding at night easier?
Breastfeeding at night doesn’t have to be a challenge. Here’s what to do:
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Place your baby in a bedside bassinet or co-sleeper to minimise disruptions during nighttime breastfeeding, suggests Dr Gupta.
2. Side-lying position
There are many breastfeeding positions, but you need to choose the one that is comfortable for you and your baby. Master the side-lying nursing position for comfortable nighttime feeds for you and your baby.
3. Dim lighting
Use soft, dim lighting to preserve your baby’s circadian rhythm and ease the return to sleep after night feeds. It will also help you to sleep better.
4. Quiet environment
Maintain a peaceful, distraction-free setting to help your baby focus on nursing and reduce nighttime fussiness, which can make breastfeeding difficult.
5. Comfortable sleepwear
You can wear a night gown or shorts with a loose T-shirt or pyjamas. Whatever you choose, make sure it is an easy-access sleepwear to streamline nighttime feeds discreetly.
6. Stay relaxed
If you are stressed, practice deep breathing and mindfulness. They can help to relax you during feeds and promote the let-down reflex, says the expert.
7. Nap during the day
You need to sleep too, so take a nap when your baby does during the day. This will help to compensate for shorter and frequent nighttime sleep cycles.
8. Bedside cooler
To minimise interruptions during nighttime feeds, 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 better sleep patterns for you and your baby!