The Reasons Why Babies Wake At Night To Breastfeed?
I’ve often thought, how much easier this whole parenting thing would be if babies slept for 12 hours straight each night. If they didn’t wake to breastfeed and I got an uninterrupted sleep each night. But, to be honest I would really miss our night time feeds. The time where it feels like just you and your baby are the only ones awake in the whole world. The sound of her feeding. Her little hand on mine. I cherish the night wakings, as exhausting as they are. It is one sure time in the day where I feel totally connected to my baby and fully appreciate her and I and how amazing my body is.
As I mentioned, it is exhausting and not all mums find it easy. It got me thinking of the reasons why babies wake up to breastfeed. There are a few reasons why they wake up when they do. And understanding why it happens can help bring some peace of mind, and make those night-time wakings a little bit easier to handle.
It helps you make more milk
Our bodies are amazing, and so are our babies. At night the milk-making hormone Prolactin spikes up and leads to more breastmilk. Babies quickly figure this out and realize that waking at this time benefits them. In addition, breastmilk is higher in fat during this time, which is great for your little one’s developing brain.
It helps you get more sleep, mama
Yes, you read that correctly. Mothers who breastfeed actually get more sleep at night because oxytocin, known as the love hormone and the one that helps mums feel relaxed while breastfeeding, contributes to better sleep. Any extra sleep not only helps mothers feel better but also decreases the chances of experiencing post-natal depression.
Extends how long you keep breastfeeding
Again, mother nature at her finest! Mothers who breastfeed at night are more likely to breastfeed for longer because production remains more steady. This goes back to the basic breastfeeding principle of supply and demand. The number of times the breasts are emptied in 24 hours, the more milk a mother will produce, and the longer she can maintain her supply after it has been established.
They become a better sleeper
This one may be hard to believe, especially if you’re breastfeeding an older little one who you feel should be sleeping longer stretches by now. However, breastmilk produced at night actually promotes better long-term sleep! Who knew?
Since babies don’t produce melatonin (the sleep-inducing hormone) for most of their early life, falling and staying asleep doesn’t come easily to them. But what does contain lots of melatonin? Breastmilk!
The great thing is that melatonin in night-time breastmilk can help regulate a baby’s circadian cycle (the body’s clock which regulates sleep-wake cycles) and allows them to eventually learn to sleep longer stretches at night.
Written by Laura Doyle staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.lovelifeandlittleones.com.