If there was one thing I heard more than anything else, when I was pregnant, it was “Get as much sleep as you can now, you’ll not get any when baby comes!”. I heard it so much I think I even put it on my list of “What not to say to pregnant women”!
I’m writing this post just after the first feed of the night around midnight. The truth is; it hasn’t been that bad! For me, anyway. If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this journey of motherhood, it’s that every pregnancy, labour, birth and baby is different. Christian does sleep good 3-4 hour stretches through the night which is amazing for a breastfed baby (breastmilk is easier and therefore quicker for a baby to digest, so they become hungry again faster than formula fed babies.) But here’s why I don’t mind…
1. Being in tune.
My body has tuned in to Christian at night. I naturally wake as he does, before he cries, I can hear him rustling and grunting as his hunger stirs him. I get him before he fully wakes, so I can pretty much feed him and put him back down in his cot again – fast asleep. Because of this, I’m not jarred out of sleep and my body has adjusted to this new pattern, so I normally don’t feel too bad and get altogether 8-10hours sleep a night. It’s amazing how rough a day you can take on with a decent amount of sleep.
This hormone is vital to milk production and it does its work at night. Feeding through the night keeps my body making enough for my son. No waiting for bottles in the middle of the night, and it’s free food for baby. Winning!
3. Reducing the risk of SIDS and breast cancer.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is still not totally understood, but there is proof that breastfeeding helps reduce the risk, along with a whole host of other benefits for mum! It also makes co-sleeping safer as you’re more aware and in tune with baby. I bring Christian into bed with me from the 5/6am feed onwards, as he is more restless and in a lighter sleep, and it’s easier for me to settle him without having to get out of bed. I do put him in a nest, so I won’t lean on him and he won’t fall out of bed! **always follow safe co-sleeping advice if you’re going to do it, but studies have shown that mums who co-sleep actually get more sleep!**
4. Brain Food
Tryptophan, Melatonin and Serotonin. Those are the three biggest words you’ll see in this blog but don’t worry, I’ll explain.
Tryptophan is an amino acid we get from our diet that our bodies make into serotonin. It’s very important for brain development in babies as our bodies can’t make tryptophan and babies can’t make serotonin either. Serotonin helps control moods and sleep (happy hormone basically).
Melatonin helps with our circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) and is what helps us sleep through the night.
This amino acid and the two hormones are highest in our bodies at night, So feeding baby at night is also feeding their brain and helping teach their bodies how to sleep properly at night too eventually!
Not going to lie. With all the scientific benefits in the world – this reason is hands-down the best for me. There’s something blissful and peaceful in those quiet moments in the dead of night where it’s just me and Christian. Where, in the dim light, I can just see those sleepy milk drunk smiles with his warm body snuggled into mine. And the unique baby smell of his little fuzzy head. And watch his “surrender to sleep” pose as I pop him back down in his cot (cover picture lol).
I really underestimated how much I get from feeding him myself until I introduced the bottle now and then of expressed milk – mainly so that if I had to be away from him he could still be fed easily. I cried when I gave him the bottle because of that loss of physical contact!! (He was totally fine and pretty content).
Almost makes 4am seem appealing. Almost. Lol.
Breastfeeding isn’t always beautiful and easy. It can be hard but I promise, it is so worthwhile. If you can – perservere. If you can’t, for whatever reason, I also salute you – for making the best and hardest decision for both you and baby – as long as baby gets fed, and baby and mum are both happy and sane, I’m all on board. Sanity is underrated, and postpartum is bloody hard.
I’d love to hear about your experiences or thoughts too – as they say, it takes a village!! Let me know in the comments.
Love, Twinkle xoxox