How Breastfeeding Helps Moms Get Better Sleep Quality

While breastfeeding, a mother releases oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress and facilitates the development of a special bond between mother and child. While it is true that oxytocin, or "the love hormone," helps promote effective breastfeeding, oxytocin also increases relaxation, and a feeling of needing a nap.

Even full-term newborns require constant attention from their caregivers. Feeding and caring for a newborn is a round-the-clock chore, giving little time for unbroken sleep due to their helplessness and rapid growth rate.

However, if you want to breastfeed your baby exclusively, you can make the most of your nighttime rest. What follows is a breakdown of how babies sleep and why breastfeeding mothers tend to sleep better.

Babies Rarely Get a Full Night's Sleep

Parents, in general, need to readjust their sleep-related expectations for their infants. Insomnia is expected for at least the first year of your baby's life. It's essential to ensure babies get the nourishment they need, so they're fed frequently throughout the day and night. 

Additionally, keep in mind that each baby is an individual. Infants between the ages of 6 and 12 weeks typically sleep for 5 to 6 hours per night. Changing diapers, taking a stroll, and rocking your baby can help soothe them and increase the time between nighttime feedings. 

Babies typically begin to sleep through the night for six hours, sometime between the third and sixth months. You may need to rethink what you mean when you say "night." Your baby's nighttime sleep will increase as she grows older.

Breastfeeding Mothers Tend to Get Better Sleep

Studies suggest that nursing women obtain more and better-quality sleep than formula-feeding mothers, especially when the baby is in close contact with the mother.

Nearly 3,000 postpartum mothers participated in a study after seven weeks. 

First-time motherhood, having a younger or male infant, depression, a history of sleep disturbances, and not exclusively nursing were all factors linked to nighttime awakenings.

About one in eight new mothers suffer from postpartum depression, and sleep disruption was discovered to be a major risk factor for this mood illness. 

As a result of their feelings of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion, mothers suffering from postpartum depression may find it challenging to care for themselves or their newborns. 

Reasons why breastfeeding mothers may have a better night's rest include:

1. Babies might sleep better on human milk. Human milk contains the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, which may explain why breastfeeding women sleep more. Other "sleep-inducing" and "brain-boosting" components found in human milk include tryptophan and amino acids, which may be involved in the production of serotonin, a critical neurotransmitter in sleep-wake cycles.

2. During the night, breastfeeding is more convenient than bottle-feeding. Breastfeeding eliminates the need for preparation and cleanup time during the night's feedings. During the night, many moms choose to nurse their babies while lying down to get some rest. 

Although some mothers today still opt to pump than direct latch for certain conveniences and just simply purchase breast pumps in online pharmacies like MedsForLess for less hassle. 

Easy and safe methods can be discussed with your baby's doctor.

3. Sleep-inducing hormone prolactin is found in breast milk. This hormone is secreted into the bloodstream by breastfeeding mothers, easing their transition to sleep after feeding their infants (both nighttime and for naps during the day).

4. The calming effects of prolactin make the postpartum time more manageable; when we're less anxious, falling asleep and staying asleep is less of a struggle. Breastfeeding mothers, who are expected to sit and bond with their newborns skin-to-skin 8-12 times a day, may be better able to handle the demands of parenting despite sleep loss.

Regardless of feeding method, all new parents lose roughly 350 hours of sleep in the first year of parenting; here are some simple ways to make up for lost sleep during those crucial first few months.

It's going to take a lot out of you to get through the first year of your baby's existence. Consequently, you'll be doing yourself and your kid a huge favor by breastfeeding, not the least of which is that you'll feel much more rested and alert than if you hadn't.

Encourage Taking Care of Oneself

The phrase "sleep while the baby sleeps" is commonly used to reassure new parents. Although reasonable in concept, adopting this approach may prove challenging in the real world. Using naptime for other purposes may be necessary, and it might be challenging to fall asleep on command. In either situation, the mother or birthing person is left feeling more frazzled and exhausted than before and is more likely to nod off during breastfeeding or chestfeeding.

Goodstein argues that "we need to particularly communicate to them about the significance of self-care," in addition to encouraging women to prioritize sleep. "Sleep deprivation is a health risk for both mothers and their infants when it is caused by chronic stress."

Goodstein suggests talking about other options for recharging, such as going for a walk while the baby is sleeping in a carrier or stroller, working out at home, or reading a book during the baby's nap time. These activities can provide pregnant women and others with much-needed mental and physical rest that can be invaluable.

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