When you become a new mum, you'll have to face the 'feared' night feeds for a few months, which can be hard to cope with.
If you are used to sleeping like a baby, your long nights of rest may be disrupted by, surprise, a real baby asking to be fed and settled until you start night weaning. If you are lucky, your munchkin may wake you up once or twice a night, but if he turns out to be a big eater, don't be surprised if you have to get out of bed five times.
Obviously, as days go by, you may start feeling very tired, begging for 'baby-breaks' so that you can take a nap. To help you deal with this new situation, we want to provide you with easy tips to make night feeds better. How? Let's find out in the following lines.
Why are night feeds important for the baby?
First of all, it's good to highlight the importance of night feeds for the development of a healthy baby. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reminds mums that feedings at such an early age are on demand, no matter if it's daytime or night-time. What's more, experts state that it's during the night when prolactin, the hormone that stimulates the mammary glands for lactation, reaches its highest levels. As a result, a night feed is more nourishing for your little one, so skipping it during his first months of life could lead to a weight loss.
On top of that, you have to know that nursing your baby at night can reduce your risk of having clogged milk ducts and breast infections.
Surviving night feeds
Before you get exhausted from staying up night after night with your little one’s night feeds, you should try putting the following advice into practice:
- Don't turn on the lights: use a nightlight or a dimmer switch, instead of turning on the lights, when you have to breastfeed or bottle-feed your child. Otherwise, he could get fully awake.
- Feed him right away: don't wait too long to feed your baby once he's crying, as that will calm him down and help him fall asleep sooner. If he gets too tired of crying, he may not take a full feed, so he could wake up again in a little while asking for more.
- Limit any interaction: it's night-time and you just want to go back to sleep, right? Well, then don't overstimulate your son or daughter when trying to curb his or her appetite. For example, don't talk to him, pick him up or change his nappy unless it's necessary.
- Burp your child: just like you would do after any feeding in the day, help your child release the air that may get trapped in his stomach. If you don't, he may experience some discomfort and break down in tears, which will put you back on your feet.
- Keep him by your bed: as you may know, doctors recommend having your baby sleep in your room for the first six months, so it would be smart to keep his cot by your bed. That way, it will be way easier for you to get up, nurse him and go back to sleep.
- Preparation is a plus: be organised and plan night feeds ahead, especially if you are bottle-feeding your little one. Keep clean bottles, the steriliser and the formula ready, so that you don't have to start all over again every time. The same rule applies to nappies, towels and other items you may need.
- Put the clock aside: the sound of a ticking clock can add extra pressure to this situation, above all when you are tempted to check the time every few minutes to see how much sleep left you can have. That will just make you feel more stressed.
Even if you are determined to go through the whole night feeding experience by yourself, there may be a day when you are so tired that you doze off while nursing your child. Then it will be time to rethink such a dynamic and ask for help. You can take turns with Dad even if you are breastfeeding, which shouldn't be an excuse as he could give your child expressed milk in a bottle.
All in all, let's agree that night feeds aren't fun, but they are necessary to promote your baby's development. Take them easy and don't be embarrassed to nap whenever you have the chance. This is a good opportunity for your family and friends to get involved, so that you can make up for your lack of sleep.