Why Nighttime Breastfeeding So Important

?? sleeping by iandeth, on Flickr
It’s an evolutionary trait that moms are wired to be responsive to their baby’s cries.

Babies wake up and drink breast milk at night because it is what nature intends them to do. Breastfed babies wake more frequently than their formula fed counterparts, because breast milk gets digested more quickly, thus making them hungry. When we nurse them back to sleep, not only are we satiating their hunger, we are letting them know that they are safe and that their cries will be heeded. We are building a trusting connection with our babies based on respect and responsiveness.

The Importance of Night Feeding

This natural night waking often takes its toll on new moms. Sometimes with the best of intentions they give formula to their infants before bed in hopes that they will sleep longer. However, nighttime feeds are very important for “informing the breasts” how much milk to make for the next day. When a mom doesn’t nighttime breastfeed, she risks decreasing her milk supply to the point of not being able to continue breastfeeding. If a woman is not producing enough milk and she’s not nursing at night, she can co-sleep with her child and breastfeed on cue to restore her supply.

Prolactin

Prolactin, the hormone responsible for helping the alveolar cells in the breast to make breast milk, is released from the pituitary gland during letdown. Research has shown the level of prolactin in breast milk is higher during times of highest milk production and that the highest prolactin levels occur in the middle of the night. Conversely, prolactin levels in the breast are lowest when the breasts are the most engorged.1 This means that babies who are allowed to nurse on demand will nurse with the frequency in order to ensure the correct milk supply for its unique growing needs.

SIDS Prevention

Night waking is also nature’s way of helping to keep our babies safe from SIDS. A hungry baby wakes up and we attend to them. We rearrange their blankets and their sleeping position, and we breastfeed them. This is all a part of SIDS prevention. When my babies didn’t wake up every two hours, I used to get antsy and would check on their breathing. Sometimes they would wake up from all my fussing, but if so, I was secretly glad, just to know they were okay.

The Science of Mothering

Mothering Magazine did a feature article on the “Science of Sharing Sleep” in its January-February 2009 issue. In a subsequent issue there were a number of letters to the editor is regards to it. One in particular caught my attention, and I just quickly want to share two parts of it with you.

In this letter, the authors of the “Science of Sharing Sleep” article respond to criticism from two doctors who co-chair the Baltimore County Child Fatality Review team, which reviews all infant deaths in their county. Both letters were long, but worth mentioning is that the authors share a finding about the significant differences between how bottle-feeding moms and breastfeeding moms and baby pairs relate to their infants, behaviorally and physiologically. They make a pretty good argument against bedsharing between bottle-fed infants and their parents, as studies have shown that these pairs do not rouse as often to each others’ sounds and movements, and that exhibited sleeping positions are different and more problematic for safe sleeping.

What caught my attention the most though was this quote: “if it is true, as a recent national survey indicates, that breastfeeding mothers are three times more likely to bedshare than bottle feeding mothers, safe bedsharing combined with breastfeeding could itself eventually be statistically shown to be protective [from SIDS]“.

So not only can bed sharing and breastfeeding at night help protect your infant from SIDS, those nighttime feeds can maintain a correct milk supply as well as help meet your child’s attachment needs. Hopefully next time you’re bleary eyed and weary you will remember this. Especially in the early days and weeks it can make all the difference in the world to your baby’s health and wellness.

When done with care, co-sleeping is best for mother and child.2

Photo credit: sleeping by iandeth

_________________________

Melodie is the mom of two girls (ages 3 and 6) and the author of Breastfeeding Moms Unite! where she talks a lot about breastfeeding a pre-schooler, but also provides tips and education about breastfeeding in general. She is also passionate about mom-to-mom support, natural/attachment parenting, real food, and vegetarianism. Melodie is also home schooling her oldest daughter, and has just returned to her mental health career after 6 years of being a SAHM.

This post has been edited from its original form, which was posted at Breastfeeding Moms Unite!

  1. The Breastfeeding Answer Book, La Leche League, 2003
  2. Here are the co-sleeping guidelines from Attachment Parenting International.

    I also recommend The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley for parents who are having sleep difficulties with their baby or toddler. Also see my post called Transitioning a Breastfeeding Toddler to Her Own Bed.

57 Responses to Why Nighttime Breastfeeding So Important

  1. Momma Jorje

    Great article and wonderful arguments for co-sleeping! I had trouble pumping for bottles for my husband to give our daughter while I was at work and then literally running out of (fresh) milk at night.

    I’m hoping next time I don’t have to pump at all.

  2. missy  

    it’s so VERY frustrating that, as a state employee, i am not allowed to encourage co-sleeping to all the pregnant and breastfeeding moms that i come in contact with!

    • Melodie  

      That must be frustrating. Can you not even suggest that parents read up about it to plant the seed? I work in health care too and also find it difficult that I am not supposed to encourage care that is seen as going against medical advice, and yet there is so many other great alternatives. Sigh.

  3. Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings  

    Great article! I had low milk supply with my singleton and twins, and the fact that prolactin levels peak at night and that nighttime breastfeeding stimulates prolactin levels more was a huge factor for me — and helped me get through all those frequent night wakings and feedings, even when I was no longer cosleeping with my twins.

    It was REALLY hard for me to not pass off some of those nighttime feedings to my husband, especially with my twins, but I just could not justify it, knowing my milk supply was at stake (my girls also nursed better and more willingly at night, when we were having challenges during the day). I am pretty sure my nursing frequently at night was a key factor in our breastfeeding success, in fact!

  4. Melissa K.  

    I love this – thank you! My daughter’s pediatrician has been attempting to convince me that I should be trying to night wean and it’s information like this that keeps me from even entertaining the idea :)

    • Melodie  

      Yay! I’m glad this post could be one more bit of arsenal in your decision-making. I remind myself that most doctors don’t have all the information (including pediatricians) when they are offering their advice. Just like everyone else they are swayed by peers, mentors and drug companies. If it is their passion they might know more but we the moms are the most passionate and often the most well informed when it comes to matters of our very own children. Of course, this is just my opinion by the way – (my disclaimer!) ;)

  5. Vashra

    Not enough data! What exactly IS “safe” bed sharing? Did the data in this national survey cover infant mortality rates from mothers (or fathers for that matter) rolling over onto the child and smothering it?

    I want to see more detailed data.

    • Melodie  

      I wrote this over a year ago and edited quite a bit out to shorten the length, however even in the original article I did not cover all of the information on this subject because I was only wanting to highlight certain parts of the information I had read that were new to me, and I thought, beneficial to other moms who didn’t know it either. If this had been a university paper you can bet I would have included info from all sides. If you are interested in more info and references, I recommend reading this much more thorough post. http://www.drmomma.org/2009/11/science-of-sharing-sleep.html

  6. Ccelia

    Melissa K: Are you planning to share this information with your ped? Might plant a seed in his/her mind to prevent other needless night weaning advice. :-)

  7. Debbie

    And for toddlers that are to busy to nurse during the day they get there nutrition at night.
    I was like you if my babies did not wake up regularly I would check if they were still alive.

  8. Janine  

    LOVE THIS. When my son was a newborn he roused to eat less but I had to hold him each feeding (no side-lying yet) and I was exhausted every day. I wondered how I would make it through with a baby and frankly I was scared. Soon enough though we mastered the side-lying position though, and now I sleep fantastic. I would imagine those early feedings can be likened to bottle feeding and I honestly do not know how anyone could function doing those night after night.

    As a new mom, all I heard (from everyone except for my own mother, who breastfed and co-slept with us) was what I consider scare tactics telling me not to bring my baby in bed with me. After my own research (and my mom’s encouragement) I started co-sleeping and as I said above, it changed everything for me for the better! But thinking about it now, the public health industry HAS to discourage co-sleeping simply because most mothers sadly don’t breastfeed. If co-sleeping was more encouraged I think there would be formula fed tragedies, as those parents would assume anything breastfeeding moms could do they could as well (even though it’s proven not to be true).

    I’m sure you saw the viral video awhile back that quizzed viewers on co-sleeping and ultimately showed that formula feeding and co-sleeping has a higher death rate than even co-sleeping while intoxicated or smoking.

    To finish my novel: I also love co-sleeping and feeding all night because I work during the day and much of the time my husband tends to the baby. It really helps with the guilt to know we get our private cuddle time all night long. :)

    • Melodie  

      Thank you for sharing your story Janine. It is hearing more positive personal stories of bed sharing/co-sleeping success that gives some moms the extra bit of courage to try it out. And I think you are right about part of the reason moms aren’t encouraged to co-sleep if most aren’t breastfeeding, but I also don’t believe most peds are even aware of this link.

  9. sarah

    Hmmm don’t agree with that 100%, I suppose each case is different but my son Callum slept through the night from 1 week old and I still had a great milk supply to breastfeed him exclusively for 12 months, our midwife said I should of waken him as …he was too young to be sleeping through but our paedeatrician said never wake a sleeping baby unless there losing weight, which he wasn’t, he was thriving and if he was hungry he woudln’t of been settled and sleeping and its so true, now Amelia my 4 week old has slept through one night and the midwife has said the same as before but Ill do as I did before listen to my baby if shes hungry she will wake, and I have plenty of milk only finished breastfeeding my son 6 months ago so my body has kicked in to feeding mode just my two bobs worth hehe

    • Kerri

      You are right. Each case is different: every child is different and every mother is different. The length of time children go between feeds (and therefore how long they can sleep at night before waking to nurse) has a lot to do with breast storage capacity (and a bit to do with individual child temperament). Breast storage capacity, which is in no way linked to breast size, determines how much milk your baby gets at each nursing. No lactating breast is ever “empty”, but the amount of milk stored there when the breast is “full” varies greatly. So a mom with a large storage capacity – sounds like you have one! – may find that she has a baby that nurses less frequently and sleeps longer at night than the baby of a mother with a small storage capacity. Both mothers may have an excellent milk supply, just different anatomy! In either case, sharing a bed with your child is beneficial for many reasons, not just to make it easier to nurse and maintain milk supply. For example, mom’s breathing and movement helps prevent SIDS by helping rouse her baby from sleep that is “too deep” too early in the baby’s development. We are the only carry mammal, a.k.a. continuous contact mammal (apes, marsupials), that would ever consider leaving our young alone to sleep. When in doubt, just think “What Would Mammals Do?” ;-)

      • sarah

        I think I do have a large milk supply as when I expressed an in between feed the other day I got 120mls out of one boob, I personally dont agree with co-sleeping for myself as when I go to sleep I go into an absolute coma and dont trust myself not to squash my babies, I didnt co sleep with callum and had a breathing and movement monitor which whilst I know they are not 100% effective it gave me piece of mind, and we now use it for Amelia, and I think by following all the SIDS requirements, for eg not smoking, having an empty bassinet with no bumpers pillows etc, laying baby on back and having plenty of ventilation I am doing everything in my power to prevent this from happening, if a baby is going to die from SIDS it will happen whether they sleep with you or not, it doesn’t mean that if you dont co sleep the risk is increased, co sleeping also leads to babies sleeping in parents bed sometimes till the age of 5 it teaches them not to be able to sleep on there own and become attached to sleeping parents, if I night fed my babies I did it in bed then put them straight back in there bed and I think thats why they have great sleep patterns, my son is now 18 mths old and goes to bed at 6pm and wakes at 8am and has never in his whole life had an unsettlled night, I think routine and consistency is the key and definately sometimes a bit of controlled crying, babies know how to play on our emotions big time

      • Dionna  

        Sarah – I have to disagree with this statement: “I think routine and consistency is the key and definately sometimes a bit of controlled crying, babies know how to play on our emotions big time”

        I echo those who say that much of nighttime sleep depends on the child’s temperament, the mother’s milk supply, etc.

        I would encourage you to look at the many resources we have available that talk about the health hazards of practicing “crying it out” (or “controlled crying”).
        For example, from The Con of Controlled Crying:
        Leaving a baby to cry evokes physiological responses that increase stress hormones. Crying infants experience an increase in heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. These reactions are likely to result in overheating and, along with vomiting due to extreme distress, could pose a potential risk of SIDS in vulnerable infants. There may also be longer-term emotional effects. There is compelling evidence that increased levels of stress hormones may cause permanent changes in the stress responses of the infant’s developing brain. These changes then affect memory, attention, and emotion, and can trigger an elevated response to stress throughout life, including a predisposition to later anxiety and depressive disorders.

        And one study even showed the opposite of what CIO advocates believe: “Do babies cry more when they are attended to? A 1986 study concluded just the opposite: the more a mother holds and carries her baby, the less the baby will cry and fuss.
        The bottom line is, “The child stops crying because she learns that she can no longer hope for the caregiver to provide comfort, not because her distress has been alleviated.

        As far as babies “playing on our emotions” (in other words, “manipulating us”), people who believe that are coloring the babies’ actions from their own (much more experienced) world view. Your baby is not “manipulating” you, she is trying to communicate with you in the only way she knows how.
        From “Cry it Out“: Consider people in your own life whom you consider manipulative – how does that perception influence your behaviour toward them? It is unlikely that the interpretation of a manipulative personality will result in the compassionate, empathetic, and loving care of that individual. Infants, quite helpless without the aid of their caregivers, may suffer both emotional and physical consequences of this type of attitude.

        And from The Natural Child Project: If a child were really “manipulating” a parent through his or her behavior, that behavior would continue or even increase over time. However, studies clearly show that the more quickly, compassionately, and consistently a child’s cry is answered, the less often they cry and the shorter the duration each time they do cry. The reason for this is that compassionate responding helps the child to mature, by meeting an important need at the right time. Needs do not disappear on their own, but only by being met as they arise. As an old proverb says, “It is the hungry man who steals bread.”

        As Dr. William Sears wrote in Creative Parenting, children “do not cry to annoy, to maliciously manipulate, or to take advantage of their parents in an unfair way. They cry because they have a need. To ignore the cry is to ignore the need.”

        If a parent decides to comfort her child whenever he cries, has he “trained” her? Yes, he has. But this is proper training – training she should have gotten from her parents when she was in distress. The best training is by the example of our behavior, and the best behavior we can show by example is that of compassion for the suffering of others. If a child does not learn compassion by his parents’ example, how will he learn it?

    • Melodie  

      You are so lucky to have had a great milk supply. I think everyone is different, different milk supplies, different babies, etc. You are doing what works for you and that’s awesome! Listening to what your child needs is always the right thing to do.

      • sarah

        Ummmm thanks Dr Dionna for your novel on controlled crying, none of that applies to me however as I have never let my babies cry to the extreme you are talking about, sorry to say your lecture has been wasted on me, I agree night time sleeping is temperament and milk supply I was actually referring to babies playing us when my 18mth old is put to bed and starts to grizzle and when I go back in to comfort him he starts laughing so when I go again grizzle then laugh hence being played by a baby , Im lucky to say my babies arent really criers they both have very placid personalities so I have never had to have the heartbreaking and heart wrenching cry to deal with thankgod as it would of broken my heart my newborn only cries when she is hungry or has a dirty nappy and my little boy was like that when he was a newborn, they get it off there dad hes very placid too
        ,

      • Dionna  

        Sarah – it’s too bad that you felt defensive about my reply. The information I shared was for the welfare of anyone else who might have read your comment encouraging “controlled crying.” It is not a concept we wish to promote on NPN.
        I hope that something you have read on this site resonates with you. No one is trying to be judgmental, we are all trying to be the best parents we can be.

        From your last two comments, I would like to direct you to our comment policy. Specifically:

        * What is not acceptable: We encourage thoughtful, mature debate on everything we post. That does not include profanity, poor spelling and grammar, personal attacks, off-topic comments, hostility disguised by sarcasm, and spam.

        * It is our desire to host a thoughtful, encouraging community for parents who practice natural parenting and/or are interested in the natural parenting philosophy. If you find yourself disagreeing with most of the content here, there are many other websites/communities where you might feel more comfortable. And remember, you can always take what works for you and your family and leave the rest.

        We welcome your participation, but please be a little more gentle in your responses. Thank you for reading!

  10. Karen  

    I have coslept and night fed since my daughter was born nearly 2 1/2 years ago including in my hospital bed. Only one or 2 people tried to stop me sleeping with her but having worked with a nurse in the UK who was involved with the cosleeping studies in Bristol nothing on earth was going to stop me I knew it was right and it has meant I get far more sleep than many friends who have not.

    Kez still feeds at night sometimes probably 3 nights a week she does unless she is teething or unwell not but it is getting more.

  11. Melanie

    So, I read this article after being up six times last night to nurse my 7 1/2 month old! Are the benifits the same when he is this old? My husband is a light sleeper so we don’t co-sleep. Every time I hear a peep I get up and take him to the living room to avoid waking my 3 year old. I guess I am wondering when and how to slow the night time feedeings. Help!!!

    • Melodie  

      Personal circumstances are the trickiest things to work around as answers are never as simple as they seem. “Follow your babies cues” is a great response but if he is waking family members then it’s hard. Where does your 3 yr old sleep? In the same room as your baby? Is sleeping with your baby is an option for you at all? Even if you move to his room? It really is so much easier if you can do it. If you want to slow down the night feedings I recommend reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. Also, attending a LLL meeting. I am sure the moms there would have lots of ideas for you. Co-sleeping worked well for me because I already didn’t share a bed with my husband (just our family dynamics – it works for us!) so my baby waking only affected me. Anyway, there are no easy answers, but I wish you luck. Maybe someone else will offer up a suggestion for you here.

    • sarah

      Hey Melanie, Im no expert by far but I personally think that for a 7.5 mth old 6 night feeds is way to much, my son was a comfort sucker when he was a newborn and I got to be able to tell when he had finished feeding and had started comfort sucking so I introduced a dummy and that solved all the problems, the midwife said let him comfort suck but my nippes were cracked and sore and I didnt want him attached to the breast 24 hours a day using me as a dummy, he is 18 mths old now and only has the dummy to sleep with and half the time it ends up on the floor 10 mins after he gets it so maybe you should try that to help get rid of the night feeds it may or may not work good luck

    • Dionna  

      Melanie – it would be so hard if one of the parents slept too lightly to cosleep! Have you ever considered having a separate bed that you could sleep with your little one for part of the night? Perhaps you could nurse the baby to sleep in the spare bed, leave and go sleep with your partner, and then when the baby wakes you could go back to that bed and sleep for the rest of the night (or awhile) – that way you’re not sacrifice YOUR sleep.

      As far as benefits – I would recommend reading Dr. Jay Gordon’s Good Nights: The Happy Parent’s Guide to the Family Bed. I’m working on a post right now about family beds and kiddos older than infants, and he was an amazing resource for the continued benefits of cosleeping.
      My last suggestion, and you’ve probably already tried this – is what would happen if you brought your babe into the bed with your partner after your partner AND your baby were already asleep? Maybe your partner would realize that he wasn’t sleeping as lightly as he thought?

      Good luck!!

      • Melanie

        Thanks for the advice everyone!!! I guess trial and error will be the way until we figure it out. My 3 year old is across the hall in his own room and he sleeps as lightly as his dad. I’m not sure what you meant by “dummy” is it a pacifier, he wants nothing to do with one of those! I guess for now since all three of our bedrooms are occupied, when I get to tired I’ll just sleep on the couch with him, its far away from everyone and pretty comfy. I will fet the book you recommended and try to fond an LLL meeting near here ! Thanks Everyone!!!

    • Karyn

      Melanie, my husband is a very light sleeper also…if fact he used to wake me up when my now 3 year old needed to nurse as an infant because he would hear the baby before me. Now with our second child my husband has not woken up once during the night even though we are co-sleeping! Why? Because 1)I respond faster now that I am more attuned to the sounds my baby makes and 2) My husband has learned to sleep through the little sounds. I bet your husband is willing to make the adjustments. It is worth it to sleep so much more and I bet in time your infant might wake-up less b/c he would be comforted by your closeness.

  12. Juliette

    When my daughter was born, at about 10 weeks, we started putting her in a crib. Because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do. Glory be… she started sleeping 8 hours…

    and then her weight gain stalled. That, combined with the fact that it was taking upwards of an hour to get her to sleep (we’re staunchly anti-CIO), convinced me to start co-sleeping. Her weight started going up again. And I didn’t dread bedtime any more.

    With my son, we didn’t even bother putting the crib together. He will co-sleep until we decide it doesn’t work for us any more – I expect he’ll be close to 2 at that point – he’s 9 months now. I’m pretty convinced that his great weight gain and overall health (and mine) is due in no small part to night-time breastfeeding on demand.

    I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this lately, and I’ve been talking to mothers whose babies “self-wean” at less than a year. It’s interesting – all those babies slept in cribs. Sleep training was involved a lot of the time. I’m becoming convinced that sleep training, no matter how gentle, is a risk factor for premature weaning since older babies tend to nurse so much less during the day because they’re so busy! Does anyone know whether there’s research on this?

    • Melodie  

      I think that’s a brilliant theory. It works for my way of thinking too. I am not sure if there has been research on this, but I also haven’t been looking for it. Hm. Something to look into.

  13. Deborah Robertson

    An encouraging read but what a dreadful photo. It shows a dangerous practice – that of bringing baby up onto mum’s pillow ;o(
    Baby should be on the mattress opposite the breast. Apparently all breastfeeding mums will adopt a ‘C’ curl around their baby so her thighs prevent him disappearing down the bed.
    It would also have been good to have a link to safe co-sleeping guidelines, especially the risk of SIDS if either adult in the bed is a smoker. E.g. http://www.babyfriendly.org.uk/pdfs/sharingbedleaflet.pdf

    • Melodie  

      You are right. I didn’t think that photo through very well. Unfortunately I don’t have any of me sleeping with my girls so that is why I had to go hunting elsewhere. Again, the original post was much longer and had some more information – safe sleep guidelines being one of them. I regret not at least linking to another site’s guidelines. I appreciate you linking up a brochure with your comment.

  14. Jessica

    thanks for the article. I always coslept and breastfed my three boys even before I heard the word “cosleep”. It just came natural to me.
    My youngest is 18 months and is still nursing and cosleeping. I weaned my first two sons at 12 months but this one I’m letting continue. He shows no sign of wanting to wean. I’m wondering how long he’ll want to nurse. Do you have any articles on the benefits of extended breastfeeding?? I always see them about new babies.

    • Melodie  

      Come on over to my website http://www.breastfeedingmomsunite.com and check under the heading Breastfeeding Older Children. I think I have a few. :) There is especially a fantastic book called Breastfeeding Older Children by Ann Sinnott that is full of positive research on breastfeeding toddlers, preschoolers and older kids.

    • Janine  

      I’m sure co-sleeping would come naturally to virtually all mothers if our society didn’t drill it in our heads “Don’t have your baby in your bed EVER EVER or your baby WILl die of SIDS.” What convinced me that was untrue (other than hearing it from my own mother) was Dr. Sears’ research on the practice. He wrote about watching his wife and child breathe in sync with one another and go through sleep cycles at the same time. Amazing! And once I realized how much real, DEEP sleep I could get if I just kept him in bed with me, I was SOLD.

  15. Jaya Radhika

    I’ve seen a lot of bad sore nipples from shallow latch in side lying position the first couple days after birth, but I think that as baby gets better at cradle hold deep latching,that sidelying may be easier in a few days or a week. What do you see?

    • Melodie  

      I was lucky with this but I am only one person. I certainly think you have a good point in establishing a good latch with a cradle hold or similar if the side lying one isn’t going as well. As with everything it takes practice! :)

  16. charlotte  

    I really ilke this article :D great work. It’s something I’ve written and thought about quite a lot, and I also think as much as it’s about this bit you wrote: “Babies wake up and drink breast milk at night because it is what nature intends them to do. Breastfed babies wake more frequently than their formula fed counterparts, because breast milk gets digested more quickly, thus making them hungry”.
    I think it’s also about co-sleeping; I’ve met lots of sole sleeping breastfed infants who have had unusually long sleep durations. It’s often celebrated in our culture, which you can understand given what most mums juggle(particularly if gain doesn’t slow) but is it natural for infants? Deep long sleep spells are linked with increased risk of SIDS (as well as the lack of maternal behaviour when a barrier is placed between mum and baby)
    One study also showed the mums who breastfeed and co-sleep were the most well rested, because they hit different types of sleep when baby was close that were more restful.

    I’m not sure about the link between co-sleeping and earlier weaning. I think there’s a massive link between schedule feeding and early weaning, so I wonder if the mums co-sleeping are also more likely to be cue feeding? and those using cribs-schedules?

    Interesting stuff how sleep is linked with feeding in ways we often don’t consider. Off to hunt out your FB group now :)

    AA
    x

    • Melodie  

      Great comment – thanks!

    • sarah

      I dont agree that babies have unusually long sleep durations, that comment obviously is from someone whos baby has never slept through, if they dont wake they are not hungry, my paediatrician said you only ever wake a sleeping baby if they are losing weight my son gained a considerable amount even when he wasnt night feeding as a newborn and my little girl who has slept through a few times too is gaining even more then my little boy was, there is a pattern in mums who wake there baby in the middle of the night to feed, the baby goes hmmm ok I dont want it but Ill have it now its in my face and they are the kids that are older and still waking for night feeds, we as adults dont feel the need to eat every hour either do babies they do get full, majority of babies who night feed at an older age arent hungry its just the closeness and comfort of being snuggled up to mum they want not that actual milk and thats why mums find it hard to wean and make them sleep in there own bed, it sets them up for bad sleep habits, as for closeness my son has never co slept and is such an affectionate little boy as he has always been showered with cuddles and kisses you dont need to night feed to have that closeness these comments are very stereotypical I think

      • charlotte  

        Hi Sarah
        I didn’t say “babies sleep unusually long durations”, I said that sole sleepers (rather than those co-sleeping) often sleep a longer more unnatural duration. I never mentioned waking a sleeping baby? bit confused about that comment.

        I also disagree you need to wean and get them in their own beds to create good sleep habits, despite what so much mainstream reading says, this isn’t an evidence based comment.

        My “baby” is now 7 lol, so yes she has slept through ;) My second co-slept, was never weaned but self weaned, self dropped his nightfeeds and decided himself when to move into his own bed – and he has excellent sleep habits :)

        I didn’t suggest affection was linked with co-sleeping?

        This is an interesting article:
        http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1083020.ece

      • sarah

        I must of totally misunderstood what you were saying, some of my comments however werent directed at your post, Im confused with what you said though about sole sleepers sleeping a longer unnatural duration, are you referring to the parent or child I dont understand what is unnatural about sleeping long, and I didnt say to wean feeding to get them in there own beds I never weaned my baby he weaned himself from night feeding by not waking, I just know of friends that started co sleeping and it set up bad habits and they cant get them in there own beds it does and can happen

  17. Jacobsmum

    Does this apply if you’re pumping at night? I have my husband get up for our 3 month old’s one overnight feeding, usually around 4am after falling to sleep between 7 & 8pm. I get up twice overnight while he’s asleep to pump for the next day at daycare. I also pump at least twice after he’s in bed and before I go to bed. I don’t seem to have much of a problem with my milk supply, though it does seem low after I nurse him when he wakes up in the morning around 6am and I then pump at work around 10. Other times I get plenty of milk and he seems satisfied.

    They say that the let down reflex is what triggers the Prolactin, so I figure that if I’m letting down when pumping (which I obviously am) then it would have the same benefits and my baby is still getting a solid night’s sleep.

    • Melodie  

      I think it applies, but honestly, not having ever pumped and not being an expert, I am not sure. I would ask a lactation consultant if you are really wondering.

      • Jacobsmum

        I wouldn’t if I didn’t have to work =/ Not as much as I do now, anyway. I’m not too terribly worried about it as I’m getting enough for him. Was just curious if anyone knew for sure, like if I could be getting more (!) if there was a way around it or something =)

  18. Amy

    This article really helped to boost my confidence with co-sleeping. Thanks. :)

  19. Courtney

    Finally, A great article on nursing at night! They are few and far between. So many moms think that cosleeping is not safe due to the studies out there and it’s just not true. If you don’t smoke, drink, or use drugs and are a relatively light sleeper (you will wake when your child moves or his or her breathing pattern becomes worrisome) you are actually protecting your child from SIDS as well as protecting your milk supply. This article is spot on. A side note: baby should not be night weaned (weaned from nursing all night yet NOT weaned from breastfeeding altogether) until the age of 2 or 2.5 years old. And keep on nursing for as long as your child needs it. It won’t last forever and will do him so much good (both his physical health and his emotional well being). It’s what God intended and it’s as natural as can be.

  20. sarah

    I would like to ad with all the other comments on here that it sounds like some mothers are basically saying that you should night feed no matter what and co sleep otherwise your baby will succumb to sids, again its different children, I did not wean my son from night feeding he weaned himself and not everyone wants to co- sleep I am so well rested with my 9 hours sleep I dont need to sleep with my child to be better rested, are these comments from people who are experts or people who think there experts because they are a mother, I fed my son until he was 1 and he was over it after that and hardly took any milk and bit and fussed so I knew it was time to say goodbye to breastfeeding, I fed him exclusively for a whole year and to me that was enough I personally think anything after 2 is a tad weird but thats just for me not picking on anyone that does it, my son is a happy healthy toddler and has never been sick a day in his life yet people think you should continue breastfeeding, we as mothers cant win if we go to formula where a bad mother if we wean at 12 months where a bad mother we never get credit for the good we do

    • Melodie  

      I’m sorry you are reading the comments in this way. If this is what works for you then you should feel confident in your decision. Others should equally feel confident in theirs.

      • sarah

        Hey not your fault, I just now know why I have steered clear from mothers chat rooms as people are very opinionated and seem to think they know all when they don’t, Im very confident in every thing I do in raising my kids as there happy healthy loving personalities are a reflection of my parenting skills, I just know these chat rooms make us feel we have to justify our actions to total strangers,

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