It’s a fact: When it comes to breastfeeding, babies don’t care if it’s an ungodly hour, or that everyone else is snoring and you’re desperately trying to get some shut-eye yourself. They will mewl and cry and possibly even scream bloody murder, and all you can do is give in to them before they can awaken the whole household.
Over three kids, I’ve perfected a routine that enables me to nurse in the night-time without losing my sanity. Granted, I don’t sleep during these times—but at least I don’t get hungry, thirsty, or bored. All it takes is a little bit of preparation before turning in.
First of all, I keep a night-light on so that I don’t have to paw around aimlessly in the dark. Stumbling blindly around in panic because the baby is bawling is not only ludicrous, but dangerous.
My baby and I co-sleep, which makes everything easier. Some mothers who want to keep right on sleeping even while breastfeeding just keep a boob out while maintaining a side-lying position. This way, their baby can just latch on whenever he wants without her having to get up. The problem with this method is that it might lead to engorgement on the other side, and eventually, a decrease in its supply, unless the mother can wake up enough to switch him.
Since my baby usually falls asleep before I can even switch her to the other side, I prevent this problem by using a Haakaa silicone pump. This entails a bit a more effort, and of course, one has to be awake throughout the entire session. However, I’ve figured out a way to minimize the inconvenience. I have a small refrigerator beside my bed where I store my pumps and other paraphernalia; whenever my baby wants to nurse, I just get the Haakaa and an empty bottle and place them beside me. While she is nursing, I attach the Haakaa to the opposite side and catch the letdown, which I periodically empty into the bottle (there’s nothing quite as heartbreaking as having an almost-full Haakaa accidentally pop off and spill several ounces of breastmilk onto your bed!). When baby is done, I just put everything back into the refrigerator and go back to sleep. I then wash and sterilise the Haakaa once a day.
Nursing is strenuous work, so I keep nibbles like cookies or chips close at hand so that I can curb my own hunger while baby is having her midnight snack. Of course, more healthful choices would be better—like fruits, yogurt, or lactation treats. (Which is easier said than done when no one is awake to judge you, LOL.) I also keep a one-liter container of water on the refrigerator and try to empty it throughout the night so that I am hydrated enough to produce lots of milk.
Breastfeeding sessions can sometimes last from thirty minutes to an hour, so I keep an e-reader, a tablet, or my phone near me so that I can entertain myself while baby is nursing. In fact, I often do some of my best online shopping for the household during these times. However, I try to activate the blue-light filter or wear my anti-radiation glasses whenever I use these devices so that I can still fall asleep afterwards.
So that’s been my nightly routine for the past 2 years: Wake up, apply the Haakaa, nurse while drinking/eating/reading, empty the pump into an empty bottle, stow everything back into the refrigerator at the end of the session, then go back to sleep. In the morning, I usually wake up with a happy baby and 4-6 ounces of milk for my freezer stash.
What’s your routine?