Breastfeeding at night: what you need to know

Breastfeeding represents the beginning of the closest, the most special, and lasting relationship of a couple, among many others. The benefits that the mother-child pair obtains from the breastfeeding process are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, for some mothers, this act during the night is not an easy task.

The high demand that the baby demands to feed at night exhausts the mother. Therefore, in this article, we offer you everything you need to know about breastfeeding at night and why your sleeplessness from now on will be pleasant, healthy, and full of love.

Why do babies eat so often?

To better understand the digestive system of our babies, we will clarify what is really happening with them and their feeling of hunger all the time, especially at night. At birth, its stomach is very small and immature, which is why at first it demands breast milk in small quantities, but with a high frequency.

In general, your stomach runs out of supplies every 2-3 hours, although, of course, each baby brings its own biological clock from the womb. At this stage, while she doesn’t eat, she sleeps. In addition, pediatricians Pin Arboledas and Ferrandez, clarify that before 4 or 6 months of age, the sleep/wake cycle is controlled by hunger and satiety.

Progressively, it “is orchestrated by the circadian rhythm or biological clock, the social environment and the light-dark changes.” The hours of sleep become greater at night, while those dedicated to eating decrease. Thus, the regulation of the infant’s circadian rhythm has a lot to do with the composition of breast milk and the breastfeeding process.

Importance of breastfeeding at night

It is true that, in the beginning, the control of breastfeeding is the baby’s and that the hours of sleep depend on the period in which they feel satisfied. In addition, science explains that breastfeeding at night brings great benefits for the mother-child pair. We’ll tell you then.

1. Night feeding stimulates milk production

In the UNICEF manual (2013), it is explained that milk production begins with nipple stimulation by the baby. When she suckles, the nerves send a signal to the mother’s brain that the baby is hungry. The immediate response is to command the release of a hormone called prolactin. This causes milk to begin to form inside the mammary gland. Thus, the more the baby suckles, the more milk is produced.

Breastfeeding at night provides a greater amount of milk, so it is a favorable time for feeding the baby.

What happens at night?

It turns out that prolactin production is highest between 2 and 6 in the morning when the greatest amount of milk is produced. In addition, naturally and instinctively, the same baby ensures its food source for the next day.

Most of the infants cry for their food and triggering an alert in the mother’s ears so that the milk factory, between 7 and 12 at night, prepares all its hormones and starts production. If the baby does not breastfeed at night, milk production will gradually drop. In these cases, it is necessary to consult with the pediatrician or attending physician.

2. You can fall into a deep sleep

A 2013 publication reports that prolactin could be capable of producing a relaxing effect and inducing sleep. However, other studies generate controversy about the action of high levels of this hormone in the long term.

Another hormone involved with breast milk is oxytocin, which allows milk to escape from the nipple into the baby’s mouth. In addition, it causes rest, relaxation, and deep sleep in the mother-child pairing. On the other hand, it is clear to researchers that breast milk contains a mixture of powerful components called nucleotides that play an important role in sleep balance. And these occur in greater proportion during the night.

Among the most notorious is melatonin, which is formed from the amino acid tryptophan, which is also found in milk. These compounds healthily regulate the sleep/wake cycle as the baby feeds throughout the night.

3. Complement the diet

The average consumption of breast milk at night represents 20% of the baby’s nutritional needs. So there is nothing more satisfying than knowing that we are the source of food, growth, and development for our children.

4. Low blood sugar in the baby is avoided

Babies, like any person, have their own nutritional needs and requirements to guarantee the functions of the body. Therefore, each shot of breast milk is essential to provide glucose and other nutrients necessary for each cell.

By skipping breastfeeding overnight and receiving no other food, a prolonged fast is generated. In this way, you run the risk of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia which will destabilize the functions of your organs. The Spanish Association of Pediatrics considers it the most common metabolic disorder in childhood.

5. Prevents clogging of the mammary glands

Mothers who breastfeed at night are less likely to have their gland ducts clogged from the buildup of milk that is not sucked out. This causes inflammation and pain. In addition, if the obstruction is frequent, certain bacteria can grow that cause infection.

Children who breastfeed throughout the night sleep 40 to 45 minutes longer than those who are formula-fed or non-lactating.

Tips to make breastfeeding at night more relaxing

Feeding our newborn children at night is a rewarding task, but it is also exhausting. Therefore, we bring you some tips that will help you enjoy the moment :

  • Sleeping with the baby: co-sleeping can be practiced if all security measures are taken or placing the crib next to the bed.
  • Adopt a suitable position: the best position to breastfeed is lying with the baby on its side. In this way, when the baby demands another milk feed, they will tell you with a single movement and you will not have to turn on the light or wait for him to cry. Always take the necessary precautions to avoid accidents. The Spanish Association of Pediatrics suggests the use of special cribs or co-sleeping.
  • Have enough water, turn off the light and be very calm.

In the end, what is it you should know?

Breastfeeding at night is just as important as breastfeeding during the day, in terms of nutrition, protection, growth, and development. However, at night, breast milk changes its composition to progressively balance the biological clock of our children in their first months of life. This includes relaxation and a better quality of sleep for the mother.

In addition, hypoglycemia in newborns and infectious disorders of the mammary gland are prevented. All the benefits are accompanied by a close bond that is generated between the mother and her son. The security, confidence, and emotional health that our little ones have will last throughout their adult lives. Also, do not forget to consult with your primary pediatrician in case of any doubt or to complement this information.

Billie Eilish

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