Breastfeeding at Night
Whether you are breastfeeding or pumping at night, you need a plan. The way that you approach nighttime breastfeeding is dependent upon your views on co-sleeping, demand feeding, structured feeding, and something called “sleep training”. I’m not trying to be dismissive of the sleep training camp. I just can’t say “sleep training” out loud without giggling. As a mom of three, I have trained a lot of things, but my kids “sleep trained” me. They trained me to go without sleep. Nevertheless, I will explain these different types of breastfeeding at night in a broad scope.
The co-sleeping methods:
Co-sleeping is sleeping in close proximity to your child. This is a broad term with many approaches. Benefits to co-sleeping while breastfeeding include: more sleep for baby and parents, decreased separation anxiety (for baby, but mostly mom),ease of breastfeeding at night and diaper duty due to proximity, and not having to rely on a baby monitor. There is recent research that indicates that there is also a reduced rate of SIDS among co-sleeping babies.
Family bed or bed-sharing: the baby sleeps in the same bed with the parent(s).
The structured feeding and sleep training methods:
Structured feeding and sleep training take a different approach. The idea is that keeping your baby on a schedule (usually 2 hours at first) maintains a steady milk supply and teaches your baby to be at ease when you are not right there. The sleep training component is usually a gradual progression from mom’s bed to baby’s crib in a separate room in a relatively short period of time. The benefits to structured feeding include: a predictable schedule, time with your partner alone, and baby getting comfortable earlier with being away from mom.
Breastfeeding in Bed
Many moms find that this is the most relaxing and connected time with baby, whether it is a nap or going to sleep for the night. Side sleeping can be particularly comfortable if you have a nursing body pillow.
Nursing sleep bras:
Making the most breastfeeding at night largely depends on having a good nighttime nursing bra. Here are some that will make breastfeeding at night more pleasant. This bra is comfortable, breathable, and will keep your breast pads in place.
Breastfeeding or Pumping
Should you pump while your baby sleep? This is a tough question. There are obvious benefits on both sides. Breastfeeding or pumping, you are somewhat awake. If you pump, at least one of you gets to sleep, right? On the other hand, it is so much easier and more natural to just latch the baby on and drift back to sleep. Sure, you wake up with your breast pad gone AWOL and soaked sheets, but you don’t have to listen to the suck machine. On the other hand, this is the time when working moms stock up breast milk for the upcoming week. Breastfeeding or pumping…that’s your call.