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 Episode 183    

When will my baby sleep through the night?

To say that newborn parenting is exhausting is an understatement. Before you became a mother, you more than likely heard this more than once – sleep when your baby sleeps. You saw how exhausted your friends who became new parents were. You never expected your best friend who just had a baby 4 weeks ago to say no to meeting you for dinner at your favorite restaurant.

And yet, this is what has happened, your friend keeps turning you down, telling you how tired she is and going into a whole litany about her babies sleeping habits. You are empathetic and you are being a good listener, but truth be told, until you became a mom, you kind of thought there was some degree of exaggeration going on here, right?

And then,,,, you became a mother? And then, it didn’t take you more than a few days for sleep deprivation to creep it’s way into your posptartum household and all of a sudden you knew exactly what your friend was talking about. You realize that if asked to go to dinner, you would be singing the same song…. I’m just to tired….

Sooo, when will your baby sleep through the night?

Honestly, it is anybody’s guess? Your baby has his or her own sleeping and eating thing going on. While you do hear of some moms talking about how their baby slept through the night, this is not the usual and this is not what you should expect.

Let’s first talk about why this is and then we can talk about what you can to about it.

Babies are little people. They are not the same as adults. Their brains and bodies are growing and developing. There is no way to predict when your baby will sleep through the night. It is not a right or wrong thing. It is not a good or bad thing. It is just an individual baby thing.

Babies will eventually begin to stretch out their feedings and sleep longer. The first 8 weeks or so tend to be the time period where you can almost count on your baby waking frequently and need to eat, around the clock.

The biggest reasons are, that their belly size is quite small when they are newborn. As they grow and gain weight, their belly is able to handle more food at one time, but in the early days, they can only take in so much at one time and their body is incredibly efficient as it absorbs the nutrients and needs to replenish these nutrients and hydrate about every 2-3 hours.

If your baby is eating every 2-3 hours and feedings take on average of 30-45 minutes, it is quite easy to see why exhaustion sets in for new parents. This, however, still does not mean that there is anything wrong with your baby or that there is not enough nutrients, fat or calories in your milk. Your milk is the perfect food for your baby. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different.

We also know that the first 6 weeks are the most important to helping build a supply that meets your babies needs. Babies feed frequently because their bellies are small and they need to keep replenishing. Babies also feed frequently because it is this frequent and efficient milk removal from your breast, that literally tells your body how much milk to make. Your baby is signaling your body on how much milk to make. This is what mother nature has planned and you should not ignore your babies feeding cues.

We know that the longer the milk stays in the breast, the less supply you will build. The more frequently it is removed, the more milk you will make. So, when a baby sleeps longer and longer in the early weeks of breastfeeding, this does not help you to build a supply that is going to meet your babies needs for the long term. Long periods in between milk removals, signals your body that it does not need that much milk.

We also know that the hormone prolactin helps stimulate milk production. It does its best job in the early weeks after giving birth. Prolactin levels are high right after giving birth and slow down over the time. So, it stands to reason that it is helpful to maximize building your supply during the early weeks of breastfeeding. And how do we do that, by frequent milk removal.

So, what do we do when-

The science tells us there are many reason to feed your baby frequently in the early days. Our babies are giving us constant feeding cues telling us to feed them frequently in the early days. And yet we have books and physicians and other people in our lives telling us not to. And because we are so gosh darn tired, it is easy to align ourselves with the thought process of getting your baby to sleep through the night as early as possible so you can get a good nights rest.

I find that when working with new parents, half the battle is just knowing that this is normal and to expect it.
The other half is to prepare yourself ahead of time to reduce your workload as much as you can so that you can spend the first 6 weeks doing not much more than what I like to call Babymooning –

Which is spending lots of time with yourself and your loved ones… in a cocoon……….not getting too involved with the rest of the world,,, just yet.

Recuperating from pregnancy and birth by laying low.
Doing the minimum as far as housework and cooking cleaning and entertaining other people in your home.
Prepare to spend much of your time eating, hydrating, feeding your baby, enjoying the company of others who live in your household and yes, napping whenever your baby naps. If you don’t have to do much else, then don’t do much else. Go to your physician appointments, stroll around your neighborhood and yes, go to the store here and there, but if you don’t have to do much else, than just don’t. If there is something in you that tells you should should be doing more – gaze at your new baby, recognize that doing more will come with time. Right now, your first allegiance is to you and your newborn. Pretty soon, you will feel less exhausted and gradually feel ready to take on more and more. Just, please give your body some time to adjust to all the changes it has recently gone through from pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Time to heal and build back your energy.

Lori J. Isenstadt, IBCLC
Lori j Isenstadt, IBCLCLori Jill Isenstadt, IBCLC is a huge breastfeeding supporter.  She has spent much  of her adult life working in the maternal health field. Once she became turned on to birth and became a childbirth educator, there was no stopping her love of working with families during their childbearing years.  Lori became a Birth doula and a Postpartum doula and soon became a lactation consultant.  She has been helping moms and babies with breastfeeding for over 25 years.  Lori founded her private practice, All About Breastfeeding where she meets with moms one on one to help solve their breastfeeding challenges.  She is an international speaker, book author and the host of the  popular itunes podcast, All About Breastfeeding, the place where the girls hang out.  You can reach Lori by email at: [email protected] or contact her via her website:  allaboutbreastfeeding.biz/contact

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