Mama Knows Breast

Andi in the news

Watch Andi on the CBS Early Show: Click here.

Watch Andi on The NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: Click here.

Watch Andi on THE TODAY SHOW: Click here.

Breastfeeding and Mom’s Sleep

Bookmark and Share

Babies don’t sleep through the night.  They just don’t.  Parents never get any sleep.  And that is never going to change.

I’ve often heard people claim that breastfeeding moms get the least amount of sleep because they have to wake up to breastfeed.  But that just didn’t ring true with my experience.  If I had been bottle feeding, I would have had to get up anyway.  I would have had to get out of bed, make the formula, stumble back to the bedroom… all with a screaming child.  Yes, my husband could have done some feedings, but there was little chance I was going to sleep through that.

So I wasn’t surprised to see the results of a new study which found that moms who breastfeed are not losing any more sleep than moms who formula feed.  Here’s a link to the study in the journal Pediatrics. And from Reuters:

Contradicting the suspicion that breastfeeding moms get less sleep, the results represent “good information to be able to tell women, (that) ‘not breastfeeding is not going to help you get better sleep,’” study author Dr. Hawley Montgomery-Downs of West Virginia University told Reuters Health. “And the benefits (of breastfeeding) for both mom and baby are tremendous.”…

There has been an “urban myth” that women who breastfeed get less sleep, Montgomery-Downs noted, which may cause some to hesitate to do so. Caring for a newborn is challenging enough, without being sleep-deprived, and some research has even suggested poor sleep after childbirth may increase the risk of postpartum depression…

When Montgomery-Downs and her colleagues asked 80 new mothers to report how often they woke up and how rested they felt, and to wear sensors that measured how long and efficiently they slept, they found no significant differences between those who relied on breastfeeding, formula, or both. They report their findings in the journal Pediatrics…This suggests that “there may be some kind of compensation” for breastfeeding mothers, Montgomery-Downs said in an interview.

For instance, babies who breastfeed may wake up more (and wake up their parents more), but those nighttime feedings may have less of an impact than if they were drinking formula, she suggested. In order to prepare a bottle, women often have to get up, turn on the lights, and move around quite a bit, all of which may make it harder for them to go back to sleep.

Alternatively, when breastfeeding, women may be awake for shorter intervals, and be less active, which makes it easier for them to go back to sleep. Women who breastfeed also have higher levels of the hormone prolactin, which facilitates sleep, Montgomery-Downs noted. And if the babies are sleeping next to the mothers, they may feed while the mother is sleeping, she added.

4 Responses to “Breastfeeding and Mom’s Sleep”

I had people ask me if I bottle fed at night so that my husband could share in the night feedings. I always was surprised that they thought just because I wasn’t feeding the baby that I would actually be able to sleep through that. Like he wouldn’t ask where the formula was, if it was too hot or need help getting our child back to sleep. I did it all, never had an ounce of formula ever and I managed to go back to work full time two months after I gave birth. I survived just fine!

The best thing that happened to me as a mother was when the nurse at Cedars showed me how to nurse my newborn baby while laying (lying? Ack! Can’t remember) on my side. Went on to nurse four babies, including twins, exclusively for a couple years each. Why? Because I got MORE sleep and rest!

Was this really a new study? I thought James Mckenna (?) had already done similar studies with similar results years back…doesn’t he run the whole sleep institute thing?

Anyway, it’s fairly obvious that breastfeeding mothers would get more sleep…and, if they happen to be co-sleepers, well, some of us are lucky enough to never have noticed a loss of ANY sleep once we got the lying down thing figured out! lol.

I never understood that myth, especially since I co-sleep. I just barely wake up in the night to feed – just roll over, pop him on and go back to sleep. My feet never touch the ground. I’m getting more sleep than my fellow formula feeding moms.

Leave a comment