I won't bore you by stating the obvious fact that new moms are pretty much always exhausted. And that, combined with a myriad of other new mom struggles, nightly feedings can be a huge pain. But, despite how it feels at two a.m., it's possible to find tips to get through nighttime feedings with your baby that will make the process easier (though not easy. That's just unrealistic.).
In case you find yourself wishing you could skip the nighttime feedings altogether, remember that they're crucial to both your baby's health and your milk supply. According to Today's Parent, nighttime feedings promote the production of prolactin, the hormone that encourages your body to produce more milk. So without the precious nighttime feedings, your supply won't be as full during the day. Eventually, when your baby is old enough to cut out nighttime feedings, you'll know. But when they're small, it's a crucial part of their development.
Despite your exhaustion, somehow the first months of motherhood are some of the memories most moms wish they could re-live when their babies aren't babies anymore. So give yourself grace for the hard nights when all you want is to sleep for longer than 30 minutes at a time, embrace motherhood (exhaustion and all), tell yourself that you've got this, and incorporate a few of these tips into your nighttime routine.
1. Sleep When They Sleep
Looking back on the time with my first daughter, I wish I would have utilized this advice more often. Sure, everyone tells you to and it can get old after a while. But if you're a mom with only one baby, embrace the naps because when there's multiple kids, these windows are few and far between.
2. Get Comfortable
Today's Parent explains how the side lying breastfeeding position works extremely well at night. This video explains how to safely feed in this position, saving your the energy of getting in and out of bed 100 times per night.
3. Use White Noise
Although recent studies found that white noise machines can cause hearing damage if use incorrectly, using a white noise machine has saved my sleep on many nights.
4. Enlist Your Partner's Help
If you have a significant other who's wading through parenthood with you, ask if they'd be willing to take over a night shift a few times a week. It's amazing how even just a few extra hours of sleep will help you feel more energized during the day.
5. Feed Near Or In Your Bed
Regardless of the controversy surrounding co-sleeping, many moms find that it's the only way to get their baby to sleep at night. Babies love to feel close to their mom, and co-sleeping can save both you and your baby many hours of lost sleep. If you're worried about sharing a bed with your little, invest in a co-sleeper bassinet.
6. Nurse On Both Sides
Although each mom does things differently, I've found that when I nurse on both sides at night, by baby sleeps longer and wakes up to eat again less often. Baby Center explains that though there is definitely no one method for nursing at night, making sure your baby is full at each feeding can help decrease the amount of times they wake.
7. Create A Relaxing Environment
As tempting as it may be to turn on the lights or do something else to help you stay awake, remember that in order for your baby to tell night from day there needs to be a difference between the hustle and bustle of day time and the calm, quiet dark of nighttime. What To Expect, and other experts, call these positive sleep associations, and you can start developing them now.
8. Have A Snack Close By
Nursing moms get hungry. Since, according to Women's Health, exclusive breastfeeding burns anywhere from 300 to 500 calories a day, it's important to eat enough, even at night.
9. Focus On The Baby's Needs
As important as it is to take care of yourself, there's really no way around the exhaustion. If you can change your mindset from one of wishing you could just sleep already to one of wonder over the fact that you're able to provide for your baby, it will help you appreciate the sweet times with your little one.
10. Be Flexible
Every baby is different. Some will naturally stick to a schedule better than others, while some babies love to cluster feed. Try to keep an open mind about feeding at first. Experts disagree about when to start adding a routine to your baby's schedule (some think scheduling is pointless altogether), but whatever the case may be, when your baby is a newborn, its best just to focus on meeting his needs. Scheduling can wait.
11. Remember The Season
As exhausting as it is, the newborn phase only lasts a few months. Someday your baby will sleep through the night and someday you will too. Try to embrace each moment, because, as they say, babies are only little once.