Managing Nighttime Nursing

Exhausted new mamas… I see you. Your newborn baby is waking up every two hours at night to nurse. Your partner wants to help but you haven’t introduced the breast pump and bottle into your routine yet. Your baby’s only food source is you! One of the most common questions I get is ‘How on earth can I get enough sleep at night!?’ Here are my top 5 strategies for managing night time sleep when you’re a breastfeeding mom. There are many more but the following 5 are the most successful tips I’ve known to work for my family and my clients.

1. Don’t let your baby go more than 2 hours during the day without nursing. The more calories they consume in the daytime, the less they will require at night. Be sure to nurse baby right before and right after daytime naps to be sure you stick with this frequent nursing routine.

2. When you’re ready to put baby down for the night, make sure the room is set up for baby’s comfort. This includes white noise, the perfect temperature (68-72 degrees), good airflow (light fan or air purifier), a dark or very dim lit room, and mama or something with her scent nearby.

3. Try placing a mattress on the floor for baby to sleep on, next to the bed you sleep on. When baby wakes at night, you can nurse him/her in your bed or their bed in the side lying position. This should allow minimal waking while both your needs are met (nursing, sleeping).

4. As stated above, nurse baby frequently throughout the day (every 2 hours) and make sure you get in a good nursing session right before bed. When baby wakes for the first nighttime feeding, have your partner bring the baby to you in bed and nurse in the side lying position. Your partner can also be in charge of other needs before after the feeding. Diaper change, rocking, burping, etc. while you continue to stay in a restful state.

5. Follow the ‘safe sleep 7’ and let your baby sleep in your bed. Your baby will surely wake less with you next to them and when they do wake, you can nurse and both go back to sleep without getting up. You’re not creating bad habits or spoiling your baby. You’re meeting both of your needs and surviving the night in the easiest way possible.

It’s important to know that sleeping through the night is a milestone that every baby whether they’re breastfed formula fed, will reach at their own time. Embrace the chaos (and the coffee) and hang in there.

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