Nighttime breastfeeds are an important part of a newborn’s daily breastfeeds. Though this causes sleep deprivation in the new mother, these breastfeeds are very important for your newborn. Understanding the importance of these night feeds may help you cope with them and know your baby better too. Here are 7 reasons why night feeds are important for your baby:
1. Newborns Have Tiny Tummies
Your little one has a little tummy. At birth, your baby has a capacity to hold up about 20ml of fluid which increases gradually. Breastmilk takes only an hour to empty from the baby’s stomach. This is why newborns generally develop a pattern of feeding every one or two hours. This is common and well within the normal range. The frequent breastfeeds in the early days and weeks after birth is beneficial as this maximizes your milk-producing capability in the longer run.
2. Night Feeds Make An Important Contribution To The Total Intake
The amount of breastmilk a baby consume in the night makes a major contribution to their to24-hourhour intake. Studies show that 64% of breastfeeding babies between the age of 1-6 months feed one to three times during the night (10 pm to 4 am). Studies also show that 20% of a baby’s total 24-hour intake is from these night feeds.
3. It Helps Babies Sleep
Our bodies have an internal clock known as Circadian rhythms. These clocks are regulated by hormones that help us wake in the morning and keep us active during the day. This clock is also responsible for making us fall asleep in the nights. Breastmilk composes of tryptophan, an amino acid which aids in melatonin production in the body. Melatonin is a hormone that induces and regulates sleep in us. The tryptophan levels rise and fall according to the maternal circadian rhythms. Your baby’s circadian rhythms are developed with breastfeeding.
4. Your Baby’s Circadian Rhythms Are Developing
Breastfeeding helps establish your baby’s circadian rhythms but research shows that a baby’s circadian rhythms are not completely established until the baby is 2 months old. It is only after your baby has crossed 2 months age that your baby will have any significant hormonal influence on his/her psychology. So your baby does not know if it is day or night up until s/he is 2 months old. Irrespective of whether your baby breastfeeds or bottle feeds, sleeping for long hours at night is a development that happens over time. And this milestone can occur at various times in each baby.
5. Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)
LAM or Lactational Amenorrhea Method is a type of birth control which is 98% effective when used right. If your baby is not 6 months old yet and breastfeeds exclusively, you can use LAM as a birth control method. Also, to use LAM, your menstrual cycles should still be on hold. When you reduce nighttime breastfeeding or cease them all together, it is not uncommon for your menstrual cycles to return. The chances of getting pregnant using most forms of birth control are still present. So, if you want a highly effective birth control, LAM is the best choice. Breastfeeding helps in delaying the onset of your menstrual cycles thus reducing your chances of getting knocked up.
6. Protects Your Baby Against SIDS
Nighttime breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in your newborn. The National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia indicates that not breastfeeding increases the risk of SIDS in infants by 56%. This means that every 3 in 6000 babies have may suffer from SIDS.
7. Mothers Get More Sleep
Research claims that formula-feeding disturbs a mother’s sleep and reduces the total sleep time. When you formula feed, the time it takes for the mother to fall asleep again is more according to research. But when mothers breastfeed exclusively, it takes less time for the mother to fall asleep again. Another research shows that mothers who breastfeed exclusively get 40-45 minutes more sleep than mothers who formula feed their babies. While 40-45 minutes might not seem like a big deal, new mothers find it very difficult to sleep. Sleeping through the night for long hours is a feat for the new mother.