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  • 15 Reasons to Breastfeed at Night

    Once moms come back home with their newborns, there is always the chance that they will end up with a disturbed sleep cycle. Newborns tend to stay away at weird hours like 2:00 am, 4:00 am etc. This is what makes new moms become sleep-deprived.

    The fact of the matter is that newborn babies tend to wake up and drink breastmilk at night because that is just what nature wants them to do. Considering the fact that breastmilk gets more quickly digested than formula, it is natural for babies that are exclusively breastfed to become hungry much quicker and wake up more frequently as compared to formula fed babies.

    When women nurse their little one back to sleep, they don’t just satiate the baby's hunger, they also let the baby know that they're safe and that mom pays all the attention in the world to the baby's cries. But apart from that, there are plenty of other reasons why mothers should consider night time breastfeeding. A few of these are:

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    Higher Prolactin Levels

    For those who don’t know, prolactin is a hormone that builds and maintains your milk supply. In the early weeks of breastfeeding, prolactin receptors are laid down in the breasts to regulate the amount of milk that your body needs to make to fulfill your baby’s needs. To get things straight, the more prolactin you have, the more milk is going to be produced by your body.

    The thing with prolactin levels is that these continue to rise with suckling – the more your baby nurses, the higher the prolactin levels. For the record, prolactin levels are at their highest at night, and breastfeeding your baby at night will assist in establishing a strong milk supply.

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    Breastfeeding Often Produces More Milk

    Each time that you breastfeed your baby, your body gets the message that it needs to continue to make milk – that it needs to fulfill the law of supply and demand. When the breast is empty, it makes even more milk. Whenever your baby starts feeding upon getting hungry, your body knows that it has to continue making more milk.

    However, if you give your baby a bottle, then your body is not going to get the same message – it will not work to produce more milk, thereby negatively impacting your supply.

    Once your supply starts to diminish, you might find it hard to kickstart again, but with patience and time, you can get your milk supply back to where it once was.

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    Higher Amounts of Tryptophan

    Breast milk is also known to contain higher amounts of tryptophan at night – a known sleep-inducing amino acid. Just so you know, tryptophan serves as a precursor to serotonin, a hormone required for the development of the brain and its functioning. In the first few weeks of breastfeeding, tryptophan ingestion triggers enhanced development of serotonin receptors.

    For the record, serotonin is required for the adequate functioning of the brain, to assist in managing sleep-wake cycles and to help one remain in a good mood. Hence, apart from the sleep inducing benefits, there are plenty of other reasons too for you to consider night time feeding.

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    Smaller Feeds

    See, if your newborn wakes up every hour for a feed, her feeding is going to be smaller than if she wakes up every three hours. Eventually, all through the night, your precious bundle of joy will get the same amount of milk no matter what.

    However, the one thing that you can be assured of is that her nightly feeds are going to diminish once you start giving her solid foods – with that cute belly full of purees, she will not require as much milk at night.

    Your breast milk automatically adjusts your baby's breastfeeding needs, so even if they feed less at the breast, your body adjusts the amounts of nutrients it puts into the milk.

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    Babies Consume More Milk at Night

    Research suggests that babies consume significantly more milk at night than at any other time of the day. From what stats suggest, babies consume about 20% of their daily intake during the night. For the purpose of this research, the majority of infant participants nursed at night – a full 64% - and were found to nurse between one and three times during this period.

    No matter the frequency, it was found that they nursed up to 20% of their daily intake at night. This means that if you have a picky eater during the day, night feedings might be the ticket you need to punch in order to keep your bay's daily nutrition needs met.

    Even for baby's who sleep most of the day away, night feedings are a way that the baby is still able to get what they need essentially by catching up at night when they feed.

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    Assists with Baby's Weight Gain

    Night time feedings are extremely useful for babies whose weight is faltering too. The reason for this is rather simple – more feedings are equal to more calories, which of course means better growth and development. For this reason, it is highly recommended for you to feed your baby all through the night.

    Apart from building and maintaining your milk supply, it will also work wonders in terms of enhancing the growth and development of your baby. Consider nursing at night a need for your baby – she needs all that milk to have a healthy development.

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    Mom Benefits from Lactational Amenorrhea (LAM)

    Also known as the Lactational Amenorrhea Method, LAM is basically a form of birth control which, according to research, is about 98% effective as long as you use it correctly.

    LAM is an outstanding birth control method that can easily be used in case your baby is under 6 months of age, is exclusively on breastfeeding, and your periods haven’t returned as of yet. If you meet these requirements, there’s a fairly high chance that night time breastfeeding will assist you with LAM.

    If you're not able to keep up with this schedule, or if you don't think it's right for your needs, don't hesitate to talk with your doctor about using birth control during your breastfeeding, especially if you don't want another pregnancy announcement so soon after having your baby.

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    Suppressed Periods

    Experts believe that prolactin and night time breastfeeding are the two factors that play a significant role in suppressing the return of periods in breastfeeding mothers. For many mothers, their menstrual cycle returns once they stop, or even reduce, night time breastfeeding.

    However, the one thing that you need to know about the lactational amenorrhea method is that it is not a foolproof method. Hence, if you truly wish to avoid getting pregnant, it is highly recommended for you to use condoms and keep an eye on your cervical mucus too.

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    Protection Against SIDS

    One of the most major reasons why you should consider breastfeeding your baby at night is that of its ability to protect your baby against SIDS – a sudden, unexplained infant death. The results of eighteen different studies have shown that the risk of SIDS is reduced by a full 50% for mothers who exclusively breastfeed their babies at night.

    A mother and baby waking up regularly through the night ensure that the baby doesn’t fall too deeply asleep and that the mother continues checking on her baby’s breathing. It is for this reason that breastfeeding and keeping the baby close at night have been deemed as two factors that can assist in reducing the risk of SIDS.

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    Baby Will Be Safe

    Apart from the basics, breastfeeding mothers typically keep their baby close at night and check on them regularly. This, if anything, plays a vital role in terms of keeping the baby safe. For this reason, it is highly recommended for you to exclusively breastfeed your little one at night – I know it can get tiring, but trust me; it’s all totally worth it.

    If co sleeping sounds too risky for you, there a numb er of products on the market that make co sleeping safe an convenient. You could purchase a co sleeping basket for your bed or even a side sleeping crib that attaches to your own bed.

    Have a look at products online and read about their safety and quality before buying to ensure you purchase the right item for your needs.

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    Mothers Get More Sleep

    Research studies have shown that breastfeeding mothers get to sleep fairly more than mothers who formula feed or mix feed their babies. In one research study, breastfeeding mothers actually went on to report higher levels of daytime energy even with night waking – which is extremely important when looking after a newborn baby.

    This is due to the fact that their baby is close by and in the same room, where the mothers who have to traverse their house to feed their babies become more awake and have a harder time going back to sleep after a night time feeding.

    Makes sense!

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    Helps Baby Sleep Better

    Tryptophan, as mentioned previously, is a precursor to serotonin, which is the hormone responsible for mood regulation as well as for regulating sleep cycles. Apart from that, it is also known to enhance brain function and development. So if you exclusively breastfeed your baby at night, you will actually help him get to sleep better at night – while also helping his body and brain develop healthily.

    That whole milk drunk is real, and babies who breastfeed are happy little milk drunks. They can even be breastfed without being fully woken up. One trick is to breastfeed a baby in their sleep when you see them making suckling motions with their mouth. This means they won't wake up later on for another feeding.

    And don't worry, this practice is completely safe.

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    Fulfills Baby’s Needs

    As time goes by, your baby may start feeding less during the day. This means that she will wake up more frequently during the night in order to fulfill her daily intake of milk. Instead of worrying about the amount of milk she has over each feed, just focus on how much she gets over 24-hours. With that, don’t miss out on night time breastfeeding!

    Because your breasts produce milktaht contains everything that baby needs to be healthy, th elonger you breastfeed the more antibodies and special bacteria the babaies get that protect them from illnesses and other things that cow's milk and formula just don't have.

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    Helps Baby Acquire Melatonin

    Newborn babies do not make their own melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone) for much of their early life. However, there’s something that has plenty of melatonin in it - your night-time breast milk! So, scientists actually think that melatonin-rich night time breast milk helps babies develop their own circadian cycles and helps them eventually learn to sleep longer stretches at night.

    Melatonin is also responsible for skin pigmentation. This is important since jaundice effects many newborns, and jaundice is a lack vitamin D and of pigmentation in the skin, so naturally, breast milk can help your baby fight off jaundice as well since melatonin will be supplied in the breast milk they drink. Incredible!

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    Breast Milk Is Easy to Digest

    The fact of the matter is that formula lacks much of the nutrition that is naturally found in breast milk. The worst part is that it also takes longer for formula to get digested. Although some people may view this as a positive considering that babies tend to sleep more when formula-fed, the reality is that it makes a baby’s body work harder to digest a foreign substance.

    Breast milk is easier on your baby’s body to digest and that is why you should also exclusively breastfeed your little one at night! Babies who breastfeed tend to have less digestive problems because the breast milk they drink has the right amount of nutrients, hormones and biological agents that work specifically with your baby to make them the healthiest they can be.

    Sources: Natural Parents Network, Nursing Nurture, Lactation Consultant, Psychology Today

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