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Of all the challenges moms could face, while breastfeeding, one of the most daunting ones is nighttime breastfeeding.
I mean, how is a mama supposed to handle the ‘regular breastfeeding challenges‘ after being up all night long, getting close to no sleep?!?
I know, it sounds unbearable. However, I breastfed my first for about 15 months. And there are definitely some things I learned to make those nights MUCH EASIER.
So let get to those tips, shall we?
Ways to cope with night feeding baby
Practice how to breastfeed while lying down
Breastfeeding baby while lying in bed is going to be one of the MOST helpful tips to keep both you and baby comfortable during those long nights.
I personally preferred the side-lying breastfeeding position (photo below).
However, if you find yourself close to falling asleep to where it’s posing a danger to baby, you can also practice a laid back position.
The laid back position is where you’ll be sitting about halfway upright, laying baby on your chest and allowing them to latch that way (photo below).
Keep any and all breastfeeding supplies nearby
In an effort to prevent you from having to get up each and every time baby needs a feeding, make yourself a little breastfeeding kit to keep close by to wherever you’ll be nursing baby in the middle of the night!
Some items that could be helpful to keep inside your little breastfeeding kit could include:
- Breast Milk Collection Shells (to catch any letdown from the other side while baby is nursing)
- Haakaa Pump (also to catch any letdown and naturally drain breast)
- Breastmilk storage bags (to store any extra milk)
- Water bottle (because nursing baby is thirsty work!)
- Healthy Snacks (again, nursing baby can make a mama pretty hungry, you can also keep some lactation snacks nearby if your milk supply has ever been an issue!)
If you’re also a pumping mama, you could add extra supplies like your pump parts or anything else you find helpful!
Just remember, the point of keeping this little breastfeeding station or kit nearby is to make your breastfeeding life easier by having everything you need in one place close by!
Keep a small night-light to easily turn on and off
As much as you’ll hear me talk about the importance of keeping a room nice and dark for baby, keeping a night light close by is a must!
Don’t get one of those plug in lights that overly bright, instead get a cheap portable one you can take with you from room to room in the event you need to go elsewhere!
I used the VAVA night light which I absolutely loved! It also has the ability to charge via USB port, turns on by tapping the top and can easily be dimmed or brightened to your preference! I’ll definitely be using this little night light again the second time around!
Wear a nursing top or nursing gown to bed
I cannot stress to you the importance of wearing a comfortable nursing top to bed!
I did not stock up or prepare for this, I just assumed a regular old t-shirt would work, but nope it made it extremely difficult to nurse my son.
Eventually, I ordered myself two breastfeeding tank tops, two nursing sleep gowns, and 2 sets of nursing sleep bras! These made the biggest difference of me being able to literally just pull out my breast for baby with ease, get on with the feeding, pump afterward if needed, and then go back to bed.
You better believe I will be restocking these items for baby number 2 and if you aren’t already stocked up, girl, what are you waiting for?!
Ask your partner to be in charge of diapering and burping baby
This was also another major help for me.
However, I’ll be honest, due to my husband’s schedule, he wasn’t always home to help. But when he was, my god this helped me stay awake just enough for those feeds.
So – be sure to explain to your partner the work that goes into breastfeeding in general in addition to breastfeeding at night! Let them know the positive impact of them helping out with diaper changes and burping can have for you!
If you’re worried they may not be receptive, I would suggest having them watch a breastfeeding class with you so they can hear it from someone else and really get a good understanding of how much work it can be.
Sleep with baby close by your bed
Keeping baby close to you at night will make your life easier in regarding to not having to get up, grab baby and bring them back.
And if they need a change or burping, hopefully your partner is willing to take over so you can get back to rest before having to do it again.
Let baby nurse as long as he or she needs (to fully empty breasts)
If there’s one thing you do not want to deal with, it’s clogged milk ducts.
I know late night feedings are exhausting and the minute baby gives you ANY sign of being finished, it’s so easy to want to go back to bed without making sure you’re fully empty, but don’t do it.
Having a clogged milk duct or potentially mastitis is not worth it. In fact, it’s so painful and as most breastfeeding mamas describe as ‘miserable’.
So the best way to make sure baby nurses until you’re empty would be to either:
- Switch breasts intermittently during the feed alternating back and forth while massaging them.
- Use your handheld breast pump or an electric breast pump to pump an extra 10-15 minutes after nursing to be sure you’re as close to empty as possible.
When do breastfed babies sleep through the night?
Another thing that could make night feeds feel a bit less exhausting, is knowing there will eventually be an end in sight!
First off, it’s important to understand that breastmilk typically digests in about 2 hours after feeding. This is why some babies end up nursing more often. They digest their yummy milk and are hungry again!
Others will nurse for comfort.
According to an article on Kelly Mom (one of my all-time favorite breastfeeding resources for moms), she states, “It is common for breastfed babies to not sleep through the night for a long period of time. On the other hand, some breastfed babies start sleeping through the night when a few months old“.
However, I can tell you from experience, that our little guy started sleeping through the night pretty early on…around the 3-4 month mark if I remember correctly!
That early sleeping didn’t just happen on it’s own though. We made sure to practice healthy sleep habits each and every night to promote a healthy sleep pattern. And clearly, it seems to have paid off!
If you want to know more about your baby’s sleep and how you can help them sleep through the night, these posts below will be helpful:
How long should you breastfeed at night?
Night feeds for your baby can last as long or as little as you want them to.
Typically for newborns and young babies, you can expect to feed them every 1-3 hours overnight. Not only does it help keep babies nutritional needs met, but in those early days it also helps to establish your breast milk supply!
If you’re finding that night time breastfeeding is becoming too stressful, try pumping and bottle feeding instead! You could even ask your partner to alternate the feedings with you while you pump. However, exclusively pumping is also full of challenges and can be just as exhausting.
If pumping and nursing baby is too much, switch over to formula! There NO WRONG WAY to make sure your baby is getting fed!
Nighttime breastfeeding main takeaways:
- Learn comfortable positions to nurse with ease overnight.
- Ask for help when needed and keep baby close to your bed.
- Remember that it will NOT last forever.
Got some Nighttime Breastfeeding Tips of your own to share??
Please drop a comment below to share with other mamas & don’t forget to PIN this post for later!