“How am I supposed to ever get some sleep when all you want to do is feed??!!! Who would have know this kid was going to eat so often, I need some sleep.” And I would take just about any opportunity to sleep because, let’s face it, sleep deprivation is used as torture in some countries! I’d had enough, I just needed to get a good, solid sleep. Not this ‘hour here, half hour there’. Well through pure sleep deprivation and last resorts I came up with an idea that works! I managed to get 5-6 hours straight each night. Tell me more you say…
Each night, just before my bub went to bed she would have a feed. But just like daytime feeds she was up and ready for more a couple of hours later. I found that I didn’t have enough milk, even in both breasts, to satisfy her at night and so I was getting up two to three times a night to feed. It’s exhausting isn’t it?
I would always try to have her in bed at a reasonable time, maybe by 8pm, so that my partner and I could just have some chill time together. Then I would put myself to bed at about 10.30-11pm and guess what? No sooner had my eyes closed and the siren would sound…”FOOD!!!!!”
I was soooo tired and normally this is not a good time to make a great discovery, but I decided that the next night, before I put her to bed at 8pm, I would breastfeed her AND top her up with some formula. I ummed and aahhed about giving her formula and probably didn’t sleep for the rest of the night thinking about it. I found it was quite a hard decision because I just didn’t want to introduce it into her diet on a permanent basis, but I was so exhausted I really just didn’t know what else to do.
So the next night I breastfed her and then made a bottle of formula to top her up. I was sure she would only drink a few mouthfuls and then nod off but she almost finished the whole thing! No wonder she kept waking up, she was starving. I popped her into bed at about 8.30 (After the initial guilt of starving my child had past) and went to bed myself. OMG!, Who would have thought that this could work so well. She was so full that instead of being woken at 11.30pm for a feed, I woke at around 2am with the pain of absolutely chock a block boobs!! So I went into her room thinking surely she’s not far off waking for a feed, but she wasn’t! In fact I had to pump at 2am and she didn’t wake until 4am! (Light bulb moment!) This is the start the most wonderful routine.
My “new” night time breastfeeding routine.
Each night I would feed her from the breast THEN top her up with pumped breast milk. So she would be in bed at 8pm, I would sit up as usual until 10.30-11pm and pump the next nights feed. Pop that in the fridge, jump into bed, sleep for a good 5 hours and wake up more refreshed than I’d felt for months. She would wake, my boobs were about to explode, she’d feed AND…wait for it…GO BACK TO SLEEP! I had so much milk after 5 hours of not feeding that she was full AGAIN. All that breastfeeding knocked her out and I got to go back to bed until 8 or 9am!!!!
If you are totally exhausted, feel like you have no milk for the night feeds, and just craving for a good nights’ sleep, head to the health nurse, get a satchel of formula, and get started…NOW!!! Alternatively, if you’ve not yet turned into a zombie through lack of sleep, you could pump and freeze small amounts of milk over a few days and add them together for the first feed. But remember that the composition of breast milk changes DURING each feed so if you are just pumping after you have already breastfed then the milk will be very rich and creamy and this may make for a bit of a yucky poo, even constipation. You are best to start pumping a full breast and empty it to get the right nutrient balance for your bubba.
I promise that once you get that first, good nights’ sleep in, you’ll never look back!
Written by Helen La Fontaine
Founder – Top Secret Maternity
Bachelor of Applied Science – Food Science and Nutrition | Masters in Public Health