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The Joys of Night Time Breastfeeding!

When it comes to night feeds, every parent will tell you that this is one of the most challenging jobs in those first few weeks and months of your little bundle of joy's life. As little as they may be, they will leave you feeling like you just had a serious one-on-one kick boxing match with a truck! (And that is just the fun bit! :)

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Night feeds can be quite challenging whether you are breastfeeding or not. When your little precious bundle of joy wakes up at night for a feed, you have 10 seconds to get your act together and move it! Otherwise you will have a screaming baby in the middle of the night and you don't want that especially when you have other children in the house.

As a breastfeeding mother, this is where I have counted my lucky stars because I am privileged enough not to worry about making/warming a bottle in the middle of the night. This is one of the best things about breastfeeding. Always readily available whenever, wherever and at the perfect temperature for your baby too! When your baby wakes up at night, all you have to do is drag yourself to where the baby is and you are good to go! I have to admit, I have never had to make or warm a bottle at night for my children thanks to breastfeeding! I suppose it's one of the rewards for persevering and sticking at it during those first few weeks when giving up breastfeeding seems like the only option. I have always breastfed but I have pumped on a few nights when my children stopped waking up as much or started sleeping through the night to help maintain my milk supply and keep a freezer stash for when I have to leave the baby with a babysitter. This is not fun I will say, searching for a breast pump or assembly one in the middle of the night while your breasts feel like they are going to explode is far from fun. So I guess that's something a bottle feeding mum doesn't have to worry about! But if you were to compare the amount of times a bottle feeding parent has had to sort out bottles and sterilisers in the middle of the night to a breastfeeding parent who merely just has to be present to feed the baby, there is no contest really :) It’s even quicker if you co-sleep with your baby because you don't even have to get out of bed. All you need to do is re-adjust yourself and voila, mum is the word! (By the way, always seek professional advice first if you do decide to co-sleep).

Ok so we have established the fact that babies will always wake up at night for feeds especially when they are still very young. The amount can vary from each baby but the fact is, they will continue to wake up until they get to a certain age when their stomachs are big enough to hold a feed that can sustain them through the night. This, however, doesn't apply to every child and I know this from experience. Every child is different and some children continue to wake up until toddlerhood or even older. Why is this so? Different people will give you different reasons.

- Bad habit that wasn't resolved from an early age.
- Hunger even though they should be able to hold a feed throughout the night.
- Wanting comfort and snuggles.
- Restlessness caused by overstimulation during the day.
- Too cold or warm.
- Nightmares.

The list is endless and there is so much conflicting advice out there that it's so confusing especially for first time mums. Night feeds will always be a part of every new parent and it is to be expected. If your child continues to wake up for whatever reason, try to find out if it's something that can easily be resolved. If they still want to breastfeed and you are happy with it, why not? It's your baby and your choice! You know your baby more than anyone and if you think they still really need a night feed, do what you think is best and yes they will eventually stop. Ask yourself this, how many 3 year olds do you know that still wake up to breastfeed? Exactly. So considering the recommended age to stop breastfeeding is 2 years, it can only be a good thing. Some mothers even go further than 2 years and it’s their decision if they want to!

If your child wakes up because of nightmares like some people would suggest, then the more reason to breastfeed because breastfeeding is scientifically proven to relax and calm the baby so it can only be a good thing! At the end of the day, you have to go by what you think is the right thing for your baby. Remember every child is different and they don't come with a manual. I am sure that some people will say you will have trouble stopping them if you don't stop them before a certain age. Not true! My youngest used to wake up quite often at night and it wasn't until she was about 16 months that she stopped. I woke up one morning ready to burst when I realised we had gone through the night without a feed! I couldn't believe it and she's never looked back! We had a few nights when she wasn't well or teething that she needed a comfort feed but apart from that she was done!

The thing about breastfeeding at night is that you feel so tired and exhausted and sometimes wish that someone else could do it for you so that you can go back to sleep. There's been times when I have been so envious of my husband fast asleep when the baby has needed a night feed and wished I didn't have to get up especially when it's been a rough night. But taking everything else into consideration, I have had some priceless moments with my children while night feeding which is what my husband has said to me in return. The peace and quiet from the still night allowing me to take in every precious second and watch my baby feed so peacefully while playfully touching my face even when half asleep is something to be treasured! I would be lying if I said this was the case every night because some nights I didn't know whether I was coming or going between the night feeds and nappy changing with one eye refusing to wake up! :) But on the nights that I was wide awake I did experience some wonderful moments that I will live to treasure! After all they grow up so quick and as much as night feeds can seem like a daunting, tiresome never ending task, when they are finally gone most parents do secretly miss them because they somewhat become a part of you and your child's life! :)

 

By Stylish mamas.

Dated: 08/04/2016.

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