There's a new phrase that has been creating quite the buzz in the parenting circles of the internet as of late — breastsleeping. Now, before you roll your eyes and dismiss it as another (oddly termed) passing fad, hear me out. The thing with breastsleeping is that it isn't new at all. In fact, it's been around since time immemorial. Or pretty close to it. Learning about the benefits of breastsleeping can help dispel any concerns or qualms you may have with society adding yet another term to our "parenting glossaries."
But before delving into its benefits, what is breastsleeping in the first place? Coined by James McKenna, founder of the Mother-Baby Sleep Laboratory and author of the recent piece published in Acta Paedaitrica, breastsleeping is essentially a combination of the terms co-sleeping and breastfeeding. Meant to dismiss the stigma surrounding bed-sharing, breastsleeping, when practiced safely, has numerous benefits for both mothers and babies (and even the partners and non-nursing parents who share the bed too.) In fact, you may already be practicing breastsleeping without knowing there was a term for it.
Whether you're on board (or should I say, bed) or not, learning about some of the benefits this method of sleeping has for your family is worth it — especially when it contains the words "more sleep."
1. It Builds A Well-Established Milk Supply
Because of the frequency of breastfeeding sessions for a breastsleeping mother and baby, her supply will likely be very well established and healthy. According to a piece from Fit Pregnancy, breastsleeping, "helps mom manage her milk supply much better and the value of breast milk is even greater when the dosages go up." The supply and demand nature of producing breastmilk is only positively impacted with more frequent night nursing.
2. It Gives You More Nursing Opportunities
Your milk supply isn't the only thing that benefits from increased nursing frequency. With the many benefits breastmilk has for your baby's health, it makes sense that breastsleeping will only heighten them. Things like improved immune system, better digestion, and emotional and cognitive development, according to the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development.
3. It Improves The Mother-Baby Bond
According to Contemporary OB-GYN, the bond between mothers and their babies are strengthened by breastfeeding in the early months and beyond. Similarly, co-sleeping, though it doesn't impart nutritional benefits, has been shown to improve maternal bond as well, according to Belly Belly.
4. It Gives You More Sleep
One of the biggest draws to breastsleeping is the fact that you, your baby (and maybe even your partner) is pretty much guaranteed to get more sleep than other sleeping arrangements. Fit Pregnancy noted that since you won't have to wake up, drag yourself out of bed and into another room, multiple times every night, that you'll naturally get more sleep. Your baby will likely wake less often, or for shorter periods of time.
5. It Can Lay The Foundation For Healthy Development
Co-sleeping and breastfeeding have both been shown to have positive effects on your child's mental and emotional development, according to Dr. Sears, and therefore, breastsleeping combines the benefits from the two in one fell swoop.