Ah, sleep deprivation. I felt like I couldn’t go five steps as a pregnant woman before someone stopped me to crack a joke about how I should kiss my rested, sleep-having, non-parenting life goodbye. Of course, once my son arrived, I realized that it's not entirely as bad as everyone makes it out to be but it also definitely is and, well, night feedings are a big reason why. There are so many things every new mom wishes she knew about night feedings; things that should be discussed beyond the typical, "Yeah, you're going to be pretty exhausted," comment.
It's not like the logistics of night feedings come naturally to any one human. I mean, why would it? Do any of us randomly wake up at 2 am, get out of our warm bed, stumble around our dark house then either get our breasts out or prepare a bottle, just because? I suppose it’s possible that’s what you do for fun, but I certainly didn’t. I mean, unless it involved alcohol and a few drunken nights, in which case that’s not actually all that far from my truth. Kidding. Sort of.
So, honestly, being awakened by shrill cries, forcing myself to my feet, dealing with poopy diapers, and then struggling to get a successful latch was not, and never will be, fun. Then again, once my little guy was nestled in my arms and I could admire his chubby cheeks (seriously, so chubby) and appreciate his snuggly footie pajamas and soft hair and his quiet slurps, there was something peaceful and, dare I say, lovely about the whole thing. Like, just him and me, me and him, mom and baby all alone in a quiet house, having a moment. Once you can get past the exhausting logistics of the whole thing, night feedings aren't that terrible, which is just one of the many things I think every new mom should know about them.
Of course, the list doesn't stop there. Here are nine additional things every new mom probably (read: definitely) wishes she knew about breastfeeding. Arm yourself with knowledge, new moms. I promise, it will help you get through even the most sleep-deprived of evenings.
If You Dim The Lights Or Keep Your Eyes Closed, It’s Like They Never Happened
I mean, you'll still be super-tired when you get up in the morning, don't get me wrong, but it will almost feel like a dream. You won't have quite as many frustrating memories of staring at the clock, or of watching your kiddo's eyelids flicker (though, let's be honest, that's kinda cute) or wishing that your partner could lactate.
It's Okay To Watch Or Read Whatever You Want, To Bring You Some Enjoyment Or Comfort
There is no shame in watching Australian family friendly dance dramas, okay? NO SHAME. I promise your kid won't be ruined, psychologically or otherwise, if you decide to watch something that helps you pass the time instead of, say, endless episodes of Sesame Street. Seriously mom, treat yo' self.
They Don't Last Forever
Ugh, I had to. I'm sorry, I really am. I heard this very tidbit of "information" so many times when my son was a baby (I still hear it as a toddler mom) but it's true. I have so few memories of night feedings, because in the big scheme of things, the window of time when I was doing them was actually pretty short.
People Will Tell You To Appreciate Nights With Your Baby, Which, Ugh, Will Make You Want To Smack Them But Seriously, There Is Something Kinda Amazing There
Perhaps it was the soft lighting and all the pretty pastel colors in my son's nursery, but night feedings were cozy. They were quieter. Slower-paced. At least, until I realized his diaper was leaking, but still, there were usually at least a few seconds of bliss wrapped up in there. Sure, you're tired and you almost resent the tiny being that is keeping you from your warm bed and sweet unconsciousness, but when you look back you'll probably, just maybe, appreciate those quiet moments.
You’re Allowed To Feel However You Want About Them
If you happen to disagree with any of these points, that's cool. You do you. It's very (highly) possible that I'm looking back with rose-colored glasses anyway, so I trust that you know your experience better than I do. So if you don't end up appreciating anything about night feedings, that is so very normal because, you know, sleep.
Every Baby And Every Home Is Different
Also, for the record, your circumstances may be slightly different than mine. Perhaps you had other kids in the house waking up, or a partner that worked nights, or a dog that always barked, or perhaps you didn't have such low requirements for your streaming needs like me. Either way, of course, you don't have to listen to me or to anyone else who's trying to make you feel a certain way about night feedings. They haven't been in your shoes, or your nursing tank tops.
If You Have To Choose, Change The Diaper Before Feeding Your Baby
In all seriousness, it took me longer than I care to admit to figure this one out. Like, this baby is crying hard because he wants milk, but I'm going to take a whopping five minutes to get him out of the swaddle, change him, and then get re-positioned? Yes. Yes, I am.
It's Okay To Do Whatever You Need To Do For Motivation
Turn the baby monitor on the highest volume so there's no way you can sleep through it? Tape motivational posters above the crib? Dress your baby in the cutest jammies possible so you're excited to go see him or her in them? Vodka? You do you. Except maybe for the vodka, especially if your're breastfeeding.
You Can (And Should) Ask For Help
Night feedings shouldn't automatically fall on you, new mom, just because you are the mom. Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding, there are things your partner can to do help you, so that you don't have to go through this exhausting process solo. Sometimes, you'll really appreciate being by yourself; just you and your baby sharing a peaceful moment. But, other times, you will want help and someone to even just sit there and, when that happens, ask. This doesn't make you ill-equipped or a bad mother or anything other than a tired human being who needs some assistance.