Nursing and Sleep

October 24, 2019

Nursing and Sleep

You just had a baby. Congratulations! You have so many things to look forward to with your new child. From their first steps to their first words, from graduating kindergarten to graduating from college, the milestones that you will get to experience with them seems to be never-ending. When you first become a parent, however, the life-changes that you need to make can seem daunting. Though infants typically sleep between 14 and 17 hours each day, it is normal for a baby to wake up two or three times during the evening. They might need attention, such as from being colicky or needing a diaper change, or they might need to be fed. If you have opted to breastfeed, this can cause additional challenges. How is a new mom expected to sleep when she needs to nurse her child?

There are some steps that parents can take when trying to balance nursing and sleep:

  • Feed fully - If your infant is not completing a feeding, this may cause the baby to be hungry again sooner. By ensuring that the baby has completed the feeding, this may help lessen the amount of feedings needed throughout the night.
  • Timing is everything - Attempt to space out the nursings in a way that would lessen the need for nightly feedings. This may take a bit of trial and error to find out what the best times are for both you and your little one.
  • Share your room - Keeping your baby closer to you in the evening can make getting up and back to sleep for nightly feedings easier. Keeping a crib or bassinet in your room is an option you might want to consider.
  • Minimize the light - Only turn on lights that are absolutely necessary when you get up during the night. The less lights you expose yourself to, the easier it should be for you to fall back asleep.

Other items to consider:

  • Sleep training - Though there are a multitude of approaches to doing this, sleep training can be compared to potty training. It is basically teaching the baby to sleep for longer periods during the night. Please keep in mind, this most likely is not a feasible option until your baby is at least four or five months old.
  • Don’t be tempted by sleep - You should be awake when nursing your child, to ensure that they are completing the feeding and getting the nutrients they need. You may feel relaxed and want to fall back asleep while they are nursing, but it may be best to wait until you get back to your bed for you to fall back asleep.
  • Avoid nursing to bring on sleep - If your infant associates nursing with sleeping, it may be a habit that is hard to break. Only feed your baby when they are hungry, not for the purpose of getting them to go back to sleep, to avoid starting this ritual.
  • Calming comfort - Make sure that your bedding and your room are comfortable to help enable you to more easily fall back asleep as quickly as possible.

Everyone is different. You may need to try a few different tricks until you find what helps you and your baby not only complete nursing but also to get the most beneficial sleep. It might take some time, but your baby and your sleep will appreciate it.

Are you a new mom?
Do you have tips for other new mothers who need help to get better sleep?
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