As a breastfeeding mom who did night feedings for about 15 months, I know how hard they can be! Breastfeeding at night can be so draining, but nighttime feedings are especially crucial for newborns.
When you’re first getting the hang of breastfeeding and are frequently up with your baby throughout the night, it might be tough for you to stay awake.
I’m the type of person who thrives on a solid good night’s sleep, so waking up often for those long nursing sessions was hard for me. I was very thankful my husband was able to take time off after our son was born so he could help me stay awake!
But once he was back to work and couldn’t be up with me throughout the night, I knew I had to find some solutions. Falling asleep while nursing can pose many risks to your baby, so whatever answers I did find needed to work.
Good news; they did! Keep reading to find out what worked.
This post contains affiliate links to products I have used and enjoyed. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. To find out more, you can read my disclaimer here.
Why are night feedings necessary?
When you are nursing, breastfeeding at night is imperative to keep your milk supply up.
Night feedings will also help you stay comfortable and avoid breast engorgement as your body adjusts to the supply and demand for your baby.
Breastfeeding at night is also crucial for your baby. Your new baby’s stomach is so tiny, so these 24/7 feedings help keep their tummies full. Keeping their stomach full will also help them gain the proper amount of weight.
How to stay awake while breastfeeding at night:
Snacks and Water
When you are breastfeeding, you burn more calories which will leave you hungrier than usual. Especially in the first few weeks, I was always starving at night.
What better way to stay awake than to eat a snack? I kept snacks like granola bars or crackers in my nightstand so I wouldn’t have to leave our room.
In addition to snacking, I was always so thirsty. It’s a great idea to keep a full water bottle next to your bed every night.
Watch a TV Show
If you enjoy watching TV, these middle-of-the-night feedings are an excellent opportunity to catch up on a show!
You will want to make sure to keep the volume low, so you don’t disturb your baby, and if you can dim your TV screen, that’s ideal too!
Play Games on Your Phone
There are so many different apps you can get on your phone these days! If you enjoy playing mobile games, it’s a great way to stay awake!
Some popular examples of mobile games to download are games like Candy Crush or more classic games like Solitare or Sudoku.
Read a Book
If reading is more your thing, it is an excellent quiet activity to do while breastfeeding.
If you don’t care to read, try Audible! Audible is a great alternative to reading a book; you still get to experience great stories. Plus, you can turn Audible on while you do other activities throughout the day.
It would be best to use headphones while breastfeeding at night to ensure you don’t disturb your baby too much.
While any headphones will work, wireless headphones are lovely because you don’t have to worry about you or your baby getting tangled in them. I use these ones, and I love that there is no cord to get caught on something causing the earbud to rip out of your ear.
Listen to Upbeat Music
If listening to a story will be more likely to put you to sleep, put on your favorite upbeat music instead. It will be hard to fall asleep when your favorite song comes on!
Talk With Your Partner
As I mentioned earlier, having my husband to talk to and keep me awake helped tremendously. If your partner is a night owl and can be up with you, their company will be great.
Set a Vibrating Alarm
Once you wake up with your baby, set a vibrating alarm on your phone to go off every 5 minutes until your baby has finished nursing. You can set your phone next to your leg where ever you’re sitting, and if you do doze off, at least it won’t be for very long.
Breastfeeding positions like side-lying can be very comfortable, but maybe too comfortable. Try sitting upright either in your bed or a chair for these late-night feedings.
It will be much harder to fall asleep if there is nothing to lay your head-on.
Remove the Blankets
If you choose to do night feedings in your bed, take the blankets off of you. Staying warm and cozy under the blankets will tend to keep you more tired.
By taking the blankets off, you will cool down, which will make you more alert.
Move From the Bed
If your bed is super comfortable in general, and nothing will stop you from being cozy, sit in a chair.
Rocking chairs or gliders are great to use while breastfeeding. You will want to make sure whatever chair you choose is supportive, and make sure you use a nursing pillow!
Breastfeeding at Night – Tips For Success:
Get Help From Your Partner
As I mentioned above, if your partner can help, ask them! Some great ways your partner can help would be to do things like burp the baby after feedings, change diapers, and get you anything you may need while you’re breastfeeding.
You’ll also love:
Rest During the Day
You have probably heard the phrase, “sleep when the baby sleeps,” a million times. And if you are able and want to, then that’s perfect!
I have never been able to sleep when my baby slept. Whenever I have ever tried, I either couldn’t fall asleep or when I finally did, my baby would wake up shortly after.
I have found that it’s better to rest than try to sleep. Relax and watch a TV show or movie, read a book, or do a hobby. The plus side of these activities is that you get to enjoy doing something while still resting.
Have Everything Nearby and Ready
It’s ideal to have a basket filled with necessities next to where you will be breastfeeding at night. This ensures that you don’t have to go anywhere to get anything in the middle of the night.
Use a Baby Tracker
It can be hard to remember what side your baby last nursed on in the middle of the day, let alone in the middle of the night when you are drowsy.
Using an app on your phone or a printable like the one below are perfect solutions to remind you which side should be next. This way, one breast isn’t being favored.
Keep Baby Close
When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, it’s much more convenient to have your baby close by. This will prevent you from having to walk across the house to another room.
When our baby was a newborn, we kept a bassinet next to my side of the bed. When he would wake, I could scoop him up quickly, and he could start his nursing session.
Don’t Wear Restrictive Clothing
Especially at the beginning of your breastfeeding journey, you will want to make sure you wear loose clothing to bed. This is best for two reasons:
Reason number one being that it’s much easier to breastfeed in a looser-fitting shirt. When you’re getting used to positioning a nursing pillow and your baby, you won’t want your shirt getting in the way.
The second reason for wearing loose shirts to bed is to avoid getting clogged milk ducts. Tight clothing, especially bras, can make it much easier to get clogged ducts that are likely to turn into mastitis.
Keep Interactions With Baby Minimal
Make sure to keep your interactions with your baby to a minimum. You don’t want your baby to fully wake up because that might make it much harder for them to fall back asleep.
You will want to make sure you try not to talk to them and only change their diaper if it’s severely wet or poopy.
I hope these tips help you stay awake during your nighttime nursing sessions! Remember, these nights seem very long right now, but they will be a memory sooner than you think.
Before you go, check out these related articles:
- Breastfeeding Essentials Every Mom Needs
- Breastfeeding Tips You Need For Success
- How to Night Wean Your Breastfed Baby
- When Does Breastfeeding Get Easier? Things To Know
Do you have any tips for staying awake that I haven’t listed? I would love to know in the comments below!