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5 Breastfeeding Tips to Help You Get Through the Night

Nothing prepares you for being a parent. While the first few weeks and months are unforgettable they are also incredibly exhausting.

Amongst all the excitement and the attention given to the newborn, something often gets forgotten, that’s the health of one very important person, you – the mom. And as you have a little one to care for now, nothing is as essential as sustaining your own physical and mental health.

Central to maintaining your own well-being and sanity is getting enough rest. With a tiny tot demanding your every moment this can seem impossible, especially if you’re up and down all night breastfeeding.

Like everything in life it pays to be prepared. Breastfeeding at night is no different. Below we are going to let you in on five little tips that will make your sleepless nights that tiny bit easier…


Keep the lights off

When you get up in the night to feed the bubs, always try to keep your exposure to light to an absolute minimum. Excess light in the night plays havoc with your body’s production of melatonin – the stuff that controls how drowsy you feel. If you turn on the bright lights it may hamper your ability to fall back to sleep post-feed.

Nightlights and lamps are a good alternative to bright overhead lights. As is the humble flashlight. And while it may look hilarious don’t discount the usefulness of a camping head torch – nobody but the baby is going to see you anyway, and who are they going to tell?


Express lying down

Mastering the skill of breastfeeding while being horizontal is essential. If you can’t be asleep in your own bed you might as well make yourself as comfortable as possible while you fill up the little one’s tank.

It takes a little more practice to express while lying down but it’s worth putting in the practice. You can either do so on your side using pillows to prop yourself in a comfortable position, or you can adopt a semi-reclining position with your tot lying across your abdomen.


Get into co-sleeping

Co-sleeping gets a bit of a bad rap in our culture, but it’s the biological norm for babies to sleep close to their mothers. Sharing a sleep surface with your baby allows you to practice and master side-lying breastfeeding. Whether you stay this way the entire night or decide to place your baby into a crib or bassinet near your bed, you are saving yourself from having to get up and down all night.

Co-sleeping has many benefits such as more sleep for mom and baby, less nighttime crying, increased sense of safety and security for baby and better maintenance of your milk supply. Don’t worry about all the hype around the dangers of cosleeping. It is perfectly safe when a few common sense rules are applied. Check them out here.


Be prepared, always have snacks ready

Taking care of and breastfeeding a newborn burns up energy. And while your pre-mom diet regime might’ve seen nighttime snacks as an unforgivable crime against your body, now you need the extra calories.

Instead of trekking up and down to the cold kitchen to get your munchies instead think like a boy scout and always be prepared. Have a stash of snacks within easy reach of wherever you settle down to feed.

The same goes for a flask of hot water. The nights are often cold and full of feeds, be ready for them with some pre-boiled water and a nice soothing camomile tea bag.


Get into audiobooks

Let’s be honest, breastfeeding can sometimes be a little dull. After all you’re just hanging around while the tiny one sucks away. It can be very tempting to get your phone or tablet out and start scrolling away. Friends of mine regularly watch entire tv series while breastfeeding.

The bad news is that using screens at night will harm your chances of getting back to sleep. So what to do? Well, audiobooks are a perfect compromise, they give you something interesting to focus on while the baby feeds and you don’t have to stare at a screen, all you need to do is pop the headphones and enjoy.

Top tip: The British actor Stephen Fry reading the Harry Potter series is an absolute joy.


Harness the power of the power nap

Winston Churchill knew the power of a good nap. Even in the midst of facing down the existential threat posed by Nazi Germany the cigar-chomping Prime Minister still had an afternoon nap every single day, without exception.

Now as a mother to a newborn you won’t often have control over when you will be able to catch forty winks, especially if you have more than one kiddie – but you need to be ruthless about grabbing any opportunity for a nap should it arrive.

Central to this is knowing when to ask for help. Too many moms I know try to be superhuman and all this results in is burnout. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. That’s what friends and family are for afterall.

Even if you manage to snatch just 30 minutes shuteye here and there during the day, the difference it will make on your health will be worthwhile.

There you have it, five tips on how to better to survive those long sleepless nights breastfeeding. Sometimes it may feel as if you’ll never get a full night’s rest again but remember they grow up fast. Before you know it your little one will be sleeping the night through and you’ll be missing those magical midnight moments together.


Hi, I’m Sarah, from sunny California. When I am not looking after my two beautiful boys, I research and write about sleep. My colleagues and I at the Sleep Advisor are driven by a belief that we would all be happier, healthier and more productive with better-quality sleep!