Breastfeeding at Night to Maintain a Healthy Milk Supply: A New Parent’s Secret

As a breastfeeding counselor and postpartum supporter, I often find that there’s a little but amazing secret that many mothers forget to tell new parents- that co-sleeping while breastfeeding is the greatest thing in the world! You can breastfeed lying down, get more sleep and tune into baby’s needs right away. Why aren’t more parents raving about this wonderful act? The first time I discovered I could breastfeed while lying on my side, I was simply amazed. So today I want to share with you a little secret that isn’t talked about nearly enough. Co-sleeping while breastfeeding! Here are a few benefits, how to do it safely, and tips to think about for the future.

Benefits of Breastfeeding at Night

  • Helps you maintain a healthy milk supply
  • Helps baby regulate his sleep schedule to yours
  • You can feed lying down, to get more rest
  • Your breast milk is the perfect temperature, no preparing needed
  • Your body releases hormones in the breastmilk at night to help both parent and baby sleep

sidelying

Benefits of Co-sleeping while Breastfeeding

(Bed-sharing or Room-sharing)

  • Parent can quickly attend to the needs of baby
  • Parent is able to pick up non-verbal cues to feed (which a baby monitor cannot)
  • Lowers the risk of SIDS if co-sleeping is done correctly
  • Bed-sharing saves money, not having to purchase baby furniture
  • Baby is soothed by the sound and feel of your heartbeat
  • Long term: Can help child develop confidence, self-sufficiency and resilience

Tips to Safely Bed-share with Baby

  • Parent should breastfeed to minimize any risks
  • Use tight-fitting sheets on a firm mattress
  • Always lay baby on their backs
  • Do not use any extra or loose blankets, pillows or stuffed animals by baby
  • Make sure there is no gap between the bed and a piece of furniture or the headboard that baby could fall in and get stuck
  • Do not bed-share if parent smokes, drinks or uses heavy medications (see your health provider for more information)
  • Remember your body keeps baby warm so do not overdress baby or keep temperature too high
  • If you are unable to bed-share, you can room-share using many of the same guidelines and place baby in a bassinet, crib or co-sleeping device in the same room as the parent

Mom-sleeping-with-baby

The “Are you getting enough sleep?” question

  • All new parents have disruptions to sleep-whether feeding by breast or bottle
  • It is completely normal and healthy for newborns to wake up frequently to eat
  • Your sleep schedule may have shifted, but baby’s is normal
  • Nap when baby naps during the day
  • Yes, you are getting the right amount of sleep for a parent of a newborn!

Should you switch to formula feeding to sleep more?

  • Sleep duration with formula feeding is only temporary
  • Bottle feeding requires getting up and preparing a bottle for every feed
  • You’d lose more sleep in the long-run

Be sure to follow these tips in order to co-sleep while breastfeeding safely and effectively. You can also check out the resources below to get more information and make sure you are following all the right steps. You are now on your way to discovering for yourself just how beneficial cosleeping while breastfeeding can really be, for both you and baby!

A new baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possiblities. ~Eda Leshan

References:

“A Quick Guide to Safely Sleeping with Your Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Cosleeping. Whether you do it occasionally or every night, do it safely.” by James J. McKenna, Ph.D.

The New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force Advanced Concepts in Breastfeeding, 19th Annual Conference. “Let There Be Milk: Strategies to Influence a Plentiful Milk Supply”

For additional reading, check out:

“SIDS: The Latest Research on How Sleeping With Your Baby is Safe” by Dr. Sears. http://askdrsears.com/html/10/t102200.asp

American Academy of Pedatrics Report on SIDS. http://aappolicy.aapublications.org/cgi/reprint/pediatrics/116/5/1245.pdf

 

[author]  [author_info] Esperanza Dodge is Young Women United’s Mamas Justice Organizer and member of their Luna Sagrada collective. Stay tuned for more blogs about birth and parenting. Esperanza’s bio can be found here. [/author_info] [/author]