Breastsleeping — or, bed-sharing while breastfeeding — is becoming more common for mothers and their babies, both for it's convenience and benefits for both mom and baby when practiced safely. Breastfeeding, however, isn't exactly known for its cleanliness and the combination of sleeping and eating might make for the occasional messy night. Any mom who plans to breastsleep should learn a few breastsleeping hygiene tips to keep both her and her sleeping babe as clean, happy, fed, and healthy as possible.
Of course, most of these tips are intuitive; you don't need a list telling you how to keep yourself clean as a nursing mom. But having a bit of a heads up will save you some mid-sleep stress when it's the middle of the night and you wake up with soaking wet breasts, or, worse yet, a dirty diaper that you didn't see coming.
These hygiene tips, practiced alongside safe breastsleeping guidelines, like having a safe mattress, minimal bedding, and placing baby on their back, will ensure that both you and your baby get the sleep you both need — without the mess.
1. Wear Loose, Comfortable Clothes To Bed
Since you'll likely be needing easy access to your breasts multiple times throughout the night, sleeping in tight, restrictive clothing doesn't make sense for the breastsleeping mom. Wear pajamas you feel comfortable in that allow you to nurse easily without sitting up or unbuttoning anything, like H&M's nursing pajamas ($35).
2. Change Your Nursing Pads Before Bed
Since you'll be nursing throughout the night, you aren't likely to deal with very much engorgement or excess leakage, but even so, going to bed with clean nursing pads is a good idea. According to Mother and Child Health, whether you have disposable or reusable nursing pads, changing them out often will keep bacteria growth at bay, lessen your risk of nipple infection, and ensure that you and your baby aren't getting extra messy while you sleep.
3. Wear A New Nursing Bra Each Night
Similarly, Very Well suggested that nursing mothers change their bra every day (and night) to avoid skin breakdown and bacteria growth. Most breastfeeding moms sleep in nursing bras for comfort and to avoid leaking, so whether it's a lightweight sleep bra or something more heavy-duty, be sure it's clean when you go to bed.
4. Change Your Baby's Diaper As Needed
Depending on your baby's age, you might need to change their diaper throughout the night to both avoid diaper rash and to keep the bed dry and clean. The American Pregnancy Association noted that you should change your baby's diaper every three to four hours for the first few months of life, but it's not necessary to wake them to change a wet diaper. After they're a few months old and have developed better bladder control, changing their diaper at night won't always be necessary. Nothing is worse than waking up in someone else's dirty diaper though, so be sure to change them before you hit the sack.
5. Tie Up Your Long Hair
More than a hygienic concern, Mother Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory noted that tying up long hair during bed-sharing is actually a matter of safety. Your hair could actually get wrapped around your baby's neck, and since there is so way for you to feel it, you may not realize it. Err on the safe side and sleep with it in a bun, ponytail, or braid.
6. Wash Your Sheets Every Week
Since an added member of the family will be sleeping in (and maybe making messes in) your bed, it makes sense to prioritize keeping your bedding as clean as possible. The Huffington Post noted that bedsheets should be washed weekly or bi-weekly, but with the added skin, sweat, and chance for stains, more frequent washing might be a good idea.