I woke up this morning looking as though I had received breast augmentation. On one side only. Although this might sound like an undesirable outcome upon waking, it actually means I was in such a state of sleepy bliss throughout the night breastfeeding my baby that I completely forgot which breast I was “supposed” to feed him on next. I had slept on my left side happily breastfeeding him from one breast on and off for 12 hours. This is the moment every breastfeeding mother dreams of. The point when you are so out of it that you not only feed from only one breast the entire night but you have no idea how many times you actually woke up! It is so unlike those first few months of nights filled with poopy nappies, sitting up while your head droops and lying as still as possible between breastfeeds so you don’t wake the baby by accident. It is possible to get through this and have a decent nights sleep! Here are some tips I have learned from my three nurslings and things I have heard from other mums to help you get more sleep through the night, while still managing to breastfeed your baby on demand…
1. Figure out if your baby sleeps better with you in your bed, or on their own in a bassinet next to your bed. My eldest son LOVED to sleep right next to me, in our bed. When I first had him I tried putting him in his bassinet. That lasted for about one night, until I realized the child would not sleep one wink unless he was in bed with my husband and I. For my middle son we just automatically did the same thing. The third time around we do a bit of both. He starts in his bassinet next to my bed and then at some point in the night he ends up with us.
2. If your baby sleeps in a bassinet keep it right next to you. This way you don’t have to physically get out of bed to get your baby. Just the little effort of getting up is too much at 2am! My mother told me she used to get up every two hours, walk down the hall to my room, breastfeed me, change me, breastfeed me again and then put me back in my cot. She did this every night for over a year! How did she do this and keep sane? I don’t know! She is one strong woman.
3. Ask your partner to change your baby so you have one less thing to do when you wake up. Also, get a lambswool and lay it down on your bed. You can sit up, put your baby on the lambswool, change them and lay back down and breastfeed without ever having to get up out of your bed!
4. Go to bed when your baby goes to bed. This is soooooo hard to do. I know. We finally get our baby to sleep and it’s freedom at last! We can sit without holding our baby! We can go to the toilet without our baby looking up at us from their bouncy seat on the floor! We can read a book or watch TV without getting spit up on! Oh the joy! As nice as all of these things are, sleep is better. Trust me.
Sharing your bed with your baby is safe when following these important steps:
Never sleep with your baby if you have been drinking or doing drugs (I hope you knew this one already!)
Do not share your bed if you or your partner smoke
Keep blankets and pillows away from your babies head
Make sure your mattress is firm
Put your baby to sleep on their backs
Breastfeed! Breastfeeding is actually one of the protective factors against SIDS! If you would like more information on sleep, I cover this in my book which is available HERE.