Posted by: Admin | March 5, 2011

The Weekend Post: Breastfeeding Day and Night

We talked about breastfeeding on demand in yesterday’s post, but maybe we should look at WHY it is important to breastfeed day and night!

We are humans, right? (I hope you all answered “Yes”… if not, I will have to go back to study ‘alien’ anatomy 🙂 ). Humans are diurnal, meaning we are active in the day and sleep at night. Human babies are the same, but, at the very beginning, they are a little confused and they can not tell daytime from nighttime. They also need a certain amount of milk and are not able to take it all in during their daytime feedings. So they need to wake up at night to breastfeed. They really need the milk! Night breastfeedings are also very important for your milk production. Two hormones are needed to produce milk: oxytocin and prolactin. Both hormones are secreted when the baby sucks at the breast. Oxytocin helps the milk transfer out of the breast. It is responsible for the “milk ejection reflex” (this reflex is what causes your milk to leak out sometimes; it even makes some women feel a tingling in their breasts). Prolactin is the hormone that stimulates the production of the milk in the first place. In the first months of breastfeeding, we need a lot of prolactin to make lots of milk, and we have learned that nightime feedings will increase your prolactin levels! So, a good way to maintain good milk production is to breastfeed your baby at night.

But what do most of us do? We are told that we need our rest at  night, so usually the first breastfeedings to be replaced by a bottle are the nighttime ones. Actually, there are 2 things to avoid if you want good milk production: 1)do not give your baby bottles of baby formula and, 2)do not skip nightime feedings!

So when will I sleep, are you asking? My answer is: in the beginning, sleep whenever you can! When your baby sleeps, take a nap with him, and remember that your baby will eventually stop asking to be breastfed at night. As soon as his stomach can take enough milk during the daytime to meet his needs, he will sleep longer periods at night.

A good trick to help your baby distinguish between daytime and nighttime is for you to act differently. For example, in the day, keep her always near you even when she sleeps. Carry her in a baby carrier, hold her or put her in a little bed placed in the area used by the rest of the family during the day. It doesn’t matter if she does not sleep long because of the noise caused by everyone’s comings and goings, as this is want you want. The more she is awake and breastfeeds in the daytime, the less she will wake up at night! Then, when everybody goes to sleep at night, place her near you, dim the lights and turn off radio and TV. When she starts to fret because she is hungry, breastfeed her. And when you change her diaper, do it gently without saying much to her – when you do speak to her, say things in a low murmur. By behaving this way, you are helping her distinguish between nighttime and daytime. Hopefully, your baby will adapt to your schedule quickly!

Have a great week-end, friends! On Monday, my post will be about my most recent breastfeeding experience…



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