You’re in a pitch black room just about to fall into a deep sleep, when suddenly the cries of your 3 month old baby wake you.
You sit up, reach for the light switch…and then instantly regret that decision as the bright rays blind you. Baby’s sobs grow louder as you pace around the room to find a burp cloth or bib to prepare for the inevitable milk mess. When you find one buried in the pile of unfolded laundry, you realize your mouth has run dry from dehydration but your water glass is empty. The incessant cries pull you back to the task at hand and you quickly reach for the bassinet.
Finally your hungry baby is sucking loudly. But there you are. Stuck in an awkward and uncomfortable position. Dehydrated with no back support. Just unprepared and fighting to stay awake.
Is this a situation you’ve found yourself in time and time again? Well, me too. I admit to not always being prepared to feed baby late at night, despite knowing exactly what nighttime feedings entail. I’ve had to learn the very hard way.
Why it happens more often than you think
See as a mom to a baby and toddler (and preschooler), I’ve gotten stuck in a rut many times. You know what I mean. When you’ve been nursing for hours, and didn’t get to sort through the pile of laundry from earlier in the day to put away all the bibs, pjs and blankets. So when baby starts to doze while still latched after a hard day of chasing toddlers and cleaning messes, YOU start to doze too. Even if the plan was to keep all those necessities for feeding baby within an arm’s reach. You’re an exhausted nursing mother. So this predicament you find yourself in night after night seems inevitable.
Something to consider…and a bit of hope
It may seem like a bad habit you just can’t break from when you have a lot going on in your life, especially as a mom to small children who need constant supervision.
Your kids fight, throw tantrums, make it look like you haven’t cleaned in ages…while your new baby wants to cluster feed throughout the day.
But could this crazy never-ending schedule simply be a short phase, at least for baby? Something like a growth spurt? Because babies do go through grow spurts from time to time and require a bit more feeding than usual. It’s possible!
Your little bundle could just be filling up on nutrients to further their growth and development.
So don’t feel like nothing is ever going to change when you’re in the middle of a stormy season.
How to break the cycle
To be prepared for feeding baby throughout the night (despite a chaotic day), you simply have to prioritize and make a few adjustments here and there.
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5 ways to be more prepared for nighttime feedings
1. Keep a stash of essentials in a basket nearby.
Because you can NEVER have enough burp cloths or blankets close by in the middle of the night, make it a point to keep a small basket or bin of items you absolutely need at an arm’s reach. This includes anything to clean up spit-up, along with nipple-cream and nursing pads. Nursing pads are crucial during those first few weeks of breastfeeding when your milk supply is in abundance and you’ll most likely be covered in colostrum and breast milk around the clock.
2. Use an adult nightlight.
By “adult” night light I simply mean a night light that is bright enough to help you find essential items around the room, as well as help to find your baby to position for latch-on. Nothing too bright, but neither too dim.
I recently discovered this amazing dimmer lamp that creates the perfect ambiance in your bedroom without disturbing your significant other. It also helps make those nighttime diaper changes smoother and helps you stay a little more alert.
3. Keep your phone or tv on.
Let’s be honest. Most of us tend to depend on our phones for just about everything. It’s your camera, newsfeed, email, videos and daily distractions. I hate relying on my phone so much. But when it comes to nighttime feedings, it’s definitely something I WANT handy. Because when I’m nursing in bed and need to stay awake, it does the job! Same goes for tv.
4. Have ample back support.
When you nurse during the day, I’m guessing you’re probably sitting in a comfy chair or on a couch. And usually that means with plenty of back support. Nursing at night shouldn’t be any different. So when your pillows just won’t cut it, be sure to invest in one of these comfy back rests or a nursing pillow for added support.
5. Stock up on water
If you’re feeding every 2 hours or so throughout the night before baby is fully weaned, it makes sense that you’re thirsty. But did you know that even waiting until you’re thirsty to actually drink water is already a sign of severe dehydration?? Yes, it’s true!
I like to have at least 2 water bottles by my nightstand when I’m going down for the evening. Because I hate waking up in dry spell, scanning the room for ANYTHING at all to quench my thirst!
6. Get out of bed.
The physical act of getting up and out of bed, will make it that much harder to fall asleep while nursing. I find that nursing in a rocking chair helps keep me focused on the task at hand, and less likely to fall asleep. Because let’s face, it while co-sleeping has many benefits (and I’ve done so with ALL my kids) it has many severe consequences as well. And let’s just say that no one wants to make the mistake of letting baby fall off the bed!
Remember, nursing at night doesn’t have to be a major challenge. If you prepare a little in advance and get in the right state of mind, the only reason you should be stumbling at 3 in the morning rummaging through a pile of laundry is when you are just so well-rested you have the urge to wash clothes at night ;).
NOTE: I hope these tips will help alleviate any breastfeeding stress or frustrations — it’s definitely not an easy job, so doing it for any amount of time is surely a success. If you’d like to hear the breastfeeding stories of other moms who share their real struggles and triumphs nursing a baby read the newly released >>Breastfeeding Anthology<<!
Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.