Breastfeeding in the Middle of the Night

When you’re torn from your much-needed sleep in the middle of the night by your baby’s cry, you groggily roll out of bed to take care of your precious, helpless child. At the same time, it’s understandable that you yearn to return to bed and restful slumber as soon as possible. Here are some tips to improve those tough middle-of-the-night breastfeeding sessions:

Just do the bare basics
Don’t change your baby’s clothes or diaper in the middle of the night unless necessary, since this will be stimulating, making your baby more awake and alert. Remember, the less you do, the shorter your time up will be.

Choose a comfortable place to breastfeed
Midnight feedings are made so much more tolerable when you can relax in comfort and rest while your baby is nursing. Sit in a cushy chair, but make sure you have support for your arms when breastfeeding. A breastfeeding support pillow can be very helpful. You may even try feeding your baby while lying down. You do, however, want to avoid falling asleep while breastfeeding, unless you have a completely safe co-sleeping environment (no way baby can fall or suffocate).

Breastfeed in a calm, quiet, dim area
Continue to make it a “sleepy” environment. Whisper quietly when necessary. Keep lights low. Don’t turn on the TV and take your baby on a tour of the house, unless you want him to think it’s time to get up and play.

Don’t play with your baby
Help reinforce the fact that nighttime is for sleeping, not playing. Don’t make nighttime fun and entertaining, or your baby will be more likely to wake up for some fun on-on-one mommy time. Mommy and baby time is great, of course, so make sure to engage in plenty of it during the day. If your baby is feeling deprived of attention, this may lead to more waking at night.

Feed your baby frequently during the day
Feed on demand and plenty during waking hours so your baby won’t need to make up for missed meals in the middle of the night.

Grab a nap during the day
If at all possible, do sleep during the day when your baby sleeps. This makes rising in the dead of night just a bit more manageable.

Remember, this too shall pass
Babies stomach are small, so we can’t blame them for needing to eat frequently, even during the night. But those tummies grow bigger fast, and before you know it, your needy little darling will be going off to school, becoming more independent every day. Savor these close, precious moments while you can. You may, in the middle of a sleep-deprived night, wish to hurry time along, but in reality, the baby years will soon be distant memory. As most veteran parents will tell you, “Enjoy your babies while they’re young; they grow up so fast!”