Nursing isn't easy! Even though you know it’s going to happen, the reality of being on-call 24 hours a day for your hungry baby can be a bit of a shock. But there are some things that can make it just a little easier:
1. Nighttime feedings are important
Your body produces more prolactin (the hormone that promotes milk production) when you breastfeed at night, so night feedings help to keep up milk production. As well, mothers vary in the amount of milk they can store in their breasts, so for many women night feedings are essential to meeting their babies’ needs.
2. Find a comfortable position
Learn to breastfeed lying down as soon as you can! If you can’t sleep, at least you can get some rest if you’re horizontal. Here’s how:
- Lie on your side, with a pillow or two to support your head. A pillow between your knees may help you feel comfortable.
- Position the baby, lying on his side, so his nose is level with your nipple.
- With one hand, bring the baby in close to you so that his chin is touching your breast and his head is tipped back a bit.
- You can stroke his upper lip with your nipple if he doesn’t latch on right away.
3. Stay close
Keep your baby close to you at night. Not only are night-feedings easier if you don’t have to trudge down the hall to get your crying baby, but research shows it reduces the risk of SIDS to have your baby share your room.
4. Hide the clock
Try turning your bedside clock so that you can’t see what time it is. It somehow makes it worse to know that you’ve only slept two hours since the last time the baby woke you up.
5. Keep the lights off
When your baby wakes to nurse, keep the room as dark and quiet as possible, to encourage him to go right back to sleep. If you need to see what you’re doing to get a good latch, a nightlight or flashlight might be better options than turning on the bedside or room light.
6. Nap when possible
Get as much rest as you can during the day. This can be a whole lot harder to do if you have more than one child, but if you can nap when the baby naps it will make a huge difference (maybe your toddler can watch a video while you doze nearby). Or perhaps your partner can take the baby for a while on weekend mornings while you get a bit more sleep.
As your baby grows, his nighttime needs will change and those 2 a.m. feedings will be less crucial. One day you’ll wake up — breasts overflowing! — and realize he hasn’t nursed all night. Until then, keep working on strategies that will help you get enough rest.
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