It is 1.30am and the baby has been on the boob for the last 2 hours straight. His 2 teeny tiny (very sharp!) little teeth (which have just cut through this past day) are, with every cute little baby suckle, scratching my nipple to shreds (he hasn’t learnt how to reposition his latch yet *despair*).
It’s times like this that really are the hardest.When the house is silent and you’re the only one awake and all you want to do is sleep and hand the baby to somebody else for just five damn minutes!
So, yes, the baby has stopped sleeping.
I genuinely think he’s decided that he let me sleep enough when he was a newborn (9-6 every night, baby!!) and so now I owe the universe recompense and the currency is the black bags under my eyes (the darker the colour, the higher the payment, obv).
He basically wants to be on me 24/7 and I’ve decided that Freud was right and Cupboard Love is real and I just want to DIE right now (not that I’m being overly dramatic or anything)!
My only saving grace is to think about all the reasons night time breastfeeding is amazing & list them one by one in my head.
For any mamas going through this night time torture routine with me, here’s some of the stuff I like to think about when I’m up say crying into my pillow:
1. We (lactating ladies!) are the proud owners of a milk-making hormone called Prolactin and some studies have shown that the amount of this hormone is significantly higher at night and when those birds are up singing at sunrise. That’s right ladies! Your baby is eating more at night because (dum dum duuuuuum) your body is producing more milk at night!
2. Apparently us milky mamas get more sleep than our bottle-feeding sisters…
I mean, I can’t base this on how much sleep I’m currently getting as I feel like my eyelids are being propped open by matchsticks right now, but it was on the internet during one of my 3am Google sweeps, so it must be true! *winky face*
3. Those gruelling night time feeds are keeping your supply plentiful for that cute little bundle of joy who’s (most likely) currently suckling away right now! Breastmilk is provided on a supply and demand basis — you’ll often here women say “Oh, he’s eating so much now because he’s putting in an order for later” & that is absolutely true!
When your baby eats, your lactating breast knows to provide milk and that this is the regular amount your baby needs. If your baby eats more (or “cluster feeds”) it’s because he/she is signalling to your body that they need more food and, hey presto, your boobies oblige – neat! It will also help you maintain your milk supply long-term so you can breastfeed for longer!
4. Evening breastmilk contains more tryptophan which is a sleep inducing hormone & this is a precursor to serotonin which is integral to brain development!
So, in lieu of these facts, here are a few tips to get you through those especially hard night time feeding frenzies:
1. Be comfy! If you can lay down & nurse, DO! It took me to baby number 4 to learn this trick and thank goodness I have because i think I’d be dead from sleep deprivation at this point if I hadn’t! Please makes sure you do this safely! Here is a great link that takes you through it step by step.
2. Have some water nearby! I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve sat, stuck, desperate for a drink while Mr Bird sleeps soundly beside me & the baby has been nursing for what seems like an insurmountable amount of time! It is no fun whatsoever and, for some reason, breastfeeding makes you need to drink the entire Nile whenever you’re in the process.
3.. Don’t clock watch! Seriously, it just makes it feel so much worse.
4. Wear easy access clothing (or sleep naked! (but only if your room is warm at nighty!) so that you can get the baby onto the breast quickly without any fuss! If you wear a nursing bra while you skeet, be careful as this can sometimes lead to a higher risk of blocked ducts and mastitis.
5. Have your muslin squares/towels to hand — you may need them and there’s nothing worse than trying to scramble around for them in the dark, covered in breastmilk & baby vomit – believe me, I know.
6. Keep the lights down/dimmed. We have a small baby night light in our room that is partially blocked off to maintain a quiet, calming, night time atmosphere, but also allow me to see what I’m doing (getting him to latch etc.) The darkness should also encourage baby to go straight back to sleep (fingers crossed!)
7. Have nappies, wipes, spare clothes etc, to hand – you are most likely going to need them, especially in those early days!
8. Have your baby close to you! This time around, we had a SnuzPod and, honestly, it was the best thing ever. So easy to comfort the baby, change him, grab him for a feed and (if your anything like me) not worry about having them in bed with you and squishing them or something! Of course, co-sleeping is a wonderful thing (now that I’m not so paranoid, there are many nights when out littlest bird sleeps in bed with us), but if you’re going to do this you must do it safely.
I hope this has helped you in some way! Please leave a comment below if you have any other tips you’d like to share or if you’d like to ask a question! Why not take a look at how you can help other breastfeeding mothers here!