I’m so happy to have Annie from PhD in Parenting back for part two of her piece on breastfeeding and sleep management during postpartum depression.
Here are things you can do to help protect your milk supply and get more sleep.
- Nap with your baby: Catch up on some of your sleep during the day by napping at the same time that your baby does if you’re a stay at home mom.
- Offer the breast more often during the day: Most babies *love* to breastfeed. When you’re awake, put your baby to the breast more often. That way they may take in more milk while you are also awake, which could minimize their night waking (no guarantees here…each baby is different). Offering the breast more often during the day also helps stimulate your supply. If you’re a working mom, try to mimic this by pumping more often. In addition to your complete 20 to 30 minute, double pumping sessions with the electric pump, if you have a handheld pump, you may be able to sneak in some extra 5 minute pumping sessions here and there during the day.
- Keep your baby with you in the evening to encourage cluster feeding: If you’re not feeling completely touched out by the end of the day, consider keeping your baby with you in the evening (in a sling, or on your lap) as you go about quiet evening activities (reading, catching up on e-mails, talking to your spouse). Most babies can sleep anywhere and don’t really need complete quiet to sleep. I spent many, many evenings cluster feeding at my keyboard while reading, writing, chatting with friends, or providing mom-to-mom breastfeeding support.
- Wake your baby to nurse before you go to sleep: I always woke up my baby to nurse before I went to sleep. Sometimes she was hard to wake, so I’d change her diaper (sure fire way to wake her up!) and then lay down and nurse her before going to sleep myself. That way I knew she had a dry diaper and a full tummy when I went to sleep, which made it more likely that I’d get a good stretch of sleep in before she woke me up. It also helped me take advantage of the sleep-inducing hormones that are produced during breastfeeding.
- Consider co-sleeping: Having your baby close to you makes it easier to tend to their needs at night without fully waking up the way you would if you had to walk down the hall and sit on a rocking chair or couch in another room. You can have the baby close by in a basinet or co-sleeper or bring them into bed with you if you follow strong co-sleeping safety practices. Deliberate, planned co-sleeping is very safe, whereas falling asleep with your baby by mistake or out of desperation when unprepared can be very dangerous.
- Find a daytime baby walker: Once you’ve passed the first few weeks, you’ll probably have a better idea of your baby’s internal clock. If there is a time of day when your baby is happy to go without nursing for a few hours and you have a friend, partner, neighbour, or relative who is willing to take the baby out for a walk in a stroller or a sling, then book them several times a week to do that. Nurse the baby, then push them out the door and lay down for an uninterrupted nap. Not only do you get some extra sleep during the day, but the baby also gets much needed fresh air to help them sleep better. Fresh air is great for mom too, so head out with baby yourself for a second walk at another time of day.
Okay, but I’m still not getting enough sleep!
What if you’ve tried all of that and you’re still not getting enough sleep? [Read more...]