While quite a few women struggle with sleep deprivation, nighttime breastfeeding is very important due to several reasons. In fact, lack of sleep if one of the main issues most mothers mention when asked about the sweet nuisances regarding breastfeeding in general. Even though it can be quite challenging to sacrifice sleep, but the truth is, no matter how you feel at any given moment, the most important thing is to keep your new baby fed and happy.

By understanding the benefits of nighttime breastfeeding, you can help yourself cope better with the lack of sleep and other tiny sacrifices that await you in this journey.

Babies struggle with capacity

A newborn baby can hold up to 20ml of fluid in its tummy. As one can assume, that’s not a lot of fluid at all. Needless to say, their stomachs get emptied within an hour or two. Usually, the feeding pattern for newborn babies is every one to two hours, depending on their metabolism.
The problem here is that the baby’s metabolism doesn’t differentiate daytime from nighttime meaning they don’t care whether you’re sleeping or not, if they are hungry you can rest assured that you’ll be aware of it.
The solution is quite obvious – don’t skip the nighttime feeding session or else you may end up jeopardizing your newborn’s well-being as well as create issues with their metabolism. This is, of course, a simplified explanation of potential issues which are much more severe than one might think. Luckily, frequent and regular breastfeeding sessions help to improve your milk-producing capabilities.

Total intake ratio

Many people don’t think about the total intake ratio of milk which is essential and crucial for the proper development of your newborn. To simplify things a bit – the rule of thumb here is that the nighttime sessions make a significant percentage of your baby’s overall daily intake of milk. Recent research has shown that about 20% of your child’s 24-hour milk intake is from night feeds.
Therefore, if you were to stop feeding your baby at night, you would potentially cut up to 20% of their daily milk intake, which would have catastrophic consequences. You should never give your child regular food in order to make up for a skipped breastfeeding session.

It helps babies sleep

All human beings have a circadian rhythm which is a biological process that displays various oscillations within 24 hours. In other words – it’s our internal body clock. Now, contrary to popular belief, babies also have an internal clock regardless of the fact that they are barely conscious and aware of their surroundings.
In fact, the main goal of most newborn babies is to eat and sleep. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t have an internal body clock and that it should be neglected.
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in breast milk which is used by the body to create melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone responsible for sleep regulation. The main thing here to remember is that tryptophan levels fluctuate according to the mother’s circadian rhythm. Therefore, one can draw a simple conclusion that breastfeeding at night can help and stimulate the babies biological rhythms.

It is essential for LAM

Lactational Amenorrhea Method (also known as LAM) is very effective at preventing pregnancy. If you breastfeed your child on a regular basis and if your menstrual cycle hasn’t returned, you can use LAM as an effective contraceptive method. It’s also not uncommon for women to get their menstrual cycles back by reducing nighttime breastfeeding.
Therefore, if you’re not planning on getting pregnant in the first 5-6 months after labor, nighttime breastfeeding can help reduce the risks.
However, keep in mind that this isn’t a method that guarantees a 100% success rate. There is a certain percentage margin for failure, and while it’s quite small, it still shouldn’t be neglected. In case you’re determined not to get pregnant too soon, you might want to include other contraceptive methods such as condoms. Birth control pills can cause issues, so make sure you’re aware of the risks before using this particular method.

SIDS prevention

This is perhaps one of the most important reasons why you should embrace or continue breastfeeding your child at night. SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and it’s caused by a combination of physical and sleep factors.
Now, there are arguments that breastfeeding doesn’t directly decrease the risks of SIDS, but on the other hand, it’s proven that formula feeding does increase the risk. From this point of view, it’s definitely recommended and advised for all new mothers to breastfeed their children on a regular basis and avoid substituting it with various formulas.
This doesn’t mean that you should avoid formula feeding at all costs, but a fine balance is necessary or else you might expose your child to various life-threatening risks.

Mothers who breastfeed actually get more sleep  

While it’s hard to believe at first, women who exclusively breastfeed their children get more sleep in comparison to mother’s who combine breastfeeding with formulas. Since the math behind this claim is pretty complex, the simplest explanation would be – mothers that practice mixed feeding have less time for sleep.
The thing that discourages most new moms is the fact that exclusive breastfeeding gets you only about 45 minutes more sleep in comparison to mixed feeding. While 45 minutes doesn’t seem as much, you can rest assured that it helps a lot when it comes to solving issues with sleep deprivation.

Solutions for various issues

Nighttime breastfeeding isn’t easy; we can all agree on that. However, there are plenty of tricks you can use in order to alleviate some of the pressure.
For example, using various accessories such as breast pumps can make a huge difference and improve your overall experience by a significant margin. Even though the manual vs. electric breast pump dilemma is always a never-ending battle, having either of those by your side is definitely an improvement and a positive thing in general. However, these accessories aren’t mandatory. You can use other methods that are proven to help you get through the night.

The battle against insomnia

Many new moms experience post-labor issues such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, and etcetera. While there are plenty of things you can do in order to battle against these conditions, nighttime breastfeeding is one of the easiest and most effective ones, especially when it comes to alleviating issues with insomnia.
The idea behind this is pretty simple – the more active you are during the night, the easier it will be for you to fall asleep. Bear in mind, this is an incredibly simplified explanation of a complex problem, and you should do some research before taking action against insomnia or any other condition, especially in case you are breastfeeding on a regular basis. Never take action on your own but instead consult a physician or someone who is qualified to offer you an opinion. Taking action on your own can and will result in serious issues that are sometimes even life-threatening for your baby.

Constant vigilance

Even though this is a matter of common sense, you would be surprised by the number of people who don’t think about it at all. The idea here is quite straightforward – the more you check on your baby, the less risk there is for something to go wrong. Naturally, there are plenty of methods you can use in order to keep track of your child’s behavior and well-being such as baby monitors, but it’s usually best to make sure everything is okay in person.