Depending on who you ask, night feedings are either one of the best or most painful parts of being a new parent. But regardless of whether you wake up singing or cursing night feedings, you want to do everything you can to make the process as easy as possible for everyone involved. And, despite the criticisms, co-sleeping has been considered one of the easiest ways to make baby's late-night meals easier on parents. But if you are deciding whether or not to keep your baby close at night, you may have wondered, do you breastfeed more when you're co-sleeping?
Contrary to what some may think, co-sleeping does not always have to mean that baby is physically in the same bed with you and your partner each night. Unlike bed-sharing, co-sleeping simply means that the parent and child sleep within close physical contact of one another, according to Kids Health. In this case, baby can catch his Zs in his own bedside sleeper.
On his website, Dr. Sears mentioned that co-sleeping babies spent more time breastfeeding than infants who slept alone in their cribs. It's no secret that breastfeeding is easier when you don't have to stumble down the hall in the dark to rescue your crying baby from a nursery. But, besides the convenience factor, there are actually some scientific reasons why co-sleeping moms tend to nurse more often than moms and babies who sleep separately. According to Dr. Sears, co-sleeping moms and their babies will often fall into a rhythm in which the mom anticipates the baby's feeding and nurses her back down before either of them fully wakes up.
In addition to making night time nursing easier, the co-sleeping arrangement can also help facilitate breastfeeding for a longer period of time. According to researchers at East Tennessee State University, breastfeeding mothers who co-slept with their babies enjoyed more sleep over a 24-hour period than those who bottle fed or allowed their babies to sleep on their own. The extra sleep can often encourage moms to nurse over longer periods of time. La Leche League Internationals has also suggested that co-sleeping can help nursing moms breastfeed on demand which as a result, helps to maintain a mother's milk supply over time.
On the downside, co-sleeping can make it harder to wean your baby from the breast, according to Baby Center. Babies can smell their mother's milk and may continue to wake for night time feedings long after they actually need to.
So if you are looking for ways to make breastfeeding easier and more convenient, co-sleeping may be the way to go. As long as you and your partner agree and follow all of the important safety precautions, your entire family can enjoy some great nights of sleep ahead.