A dear friend of mine recently gave birth to her first baby. When catching up with her, I asked her how she was enjoying the first initial weeks with a newborn baby. Her answer was ‘I’m struggling with the night-time feeds, but everything is great apart from that.’ She mentioned how difficult it was to fumble around in the dark and try to stay awake and focused while breastfeeding, sometimes up to an hour each feed.
Prior to having your first baby, all we ever talk about is the good stuff, right? Discussions of your first walk with baby, how your baby will be dressed, who will give baby his or her bath every night.
But nobody mentions the wee hours of the night when it’s just you and your baby.
Trying to stay awake.
The majority of partners won’t be able to help when your baby wakes to cry for breastfeeding. You’re pretty much on your own. Worse still, you can’t make too much noise for fear of waking up hubby who probably has an early start in the morning.
So what exactly can you do with your time while you’re breastfeeding baby at night?
1. Read that favorite book you’ve been meaning to finish
It's almost impossible for some women to read during their final few months of pregnancy. With the attention span of a nat, our brains are consumed with worries, organizational ideas and the hopes and dreams of motherhood. The last thing we have time to do is pick up a book and relax.
Well, nows your time ladies. Find yourself a small clip-on lamp for your book, or download it to Kindle and enjoying your silent time while breastfeeding your baby. It may take a time or two for you to figure out the most comfortable position to read and feed at the same time, but no doubt you'll be a pro once you have your systems down.
2. Create to-do lists for the holidays
Maybe it's the Type A in me combined with my racing mind, but if I have a spare half-hour with peace and quiet, it's a perfect time to brainstorm. If Christmas is approaching, you can jot down all your gift ideas for your partner, family, and friends. If there's a special birthday approaching, then take the time to write down how you might want to plan a party. Heck, it could be something as simple as your grocery list!
As with idea #1, it may take the aid of a boppy to settle baby into a comfortable position to give you a free writing hand, but you'll wake up in the morning feeling as though you have achieved more than just a satiated baby if you've tackled your to-do lists.
3. Track your baby
There are many Baby Apps out there available for download that can assist you in tracking your babies sleeping, eating and pooping patterns. While there is a wonderful gadget called Itzbeen on the market, that allows you to hit a button so you can track how long its been since baby last had a breastfeeding session, it doesn't have the ability to record all the feeding times.
I highly recommend you spend a bit of time every day recording all the effort that goes into breastfeeding and baby care. You will be able to look back at it all and give yourself a major pat on the back.
4. Learn and practice meditation
Meditation can be a huge help for new mothers. Having the ability to stay present and calm around your newborn can work wonders for babies sense of ease.
The Calm App or Insight Timer are both so easy to use and will help to calm your heart rate in the middle of the night when baby awakens abruptly. You don't have to mediate with your eyes closed. If you're in a darkened room with a slumber light, then simply affix your eyes on baby or another place in the room and enjoy some assisted meditation while you're breastfeeding your baby through the night.
5. Eat & Drink
Midnight feast anyone? Why not prep some healthy yet indulgent snacks that you can enjoy while you're breastfeeding baby at night? Chop up some apples and whip up a sweet dip to go along with it. Enjoy herbal tea and some home-made bread. Look at these moments of darkness and silence as a way for you to snuggle in with baby and also time for you.
OK, I'm not suggesting that you grab that karaoke machine you got for Christmas 7 years ago that's gathering dust. We don't want to wake the neighbors, right? A way for you to stay awake and focused on the breastfeeding task at hand is to softly hum or sing a favorite song. Perhaps it's a song you recall from your childhood or a favorite family song that you love.
No matter what the song choice is, your baby will love to feel and head the vibrations coming from you, Mama. Another perfect idea for a bonding moment just between the two of you.
7. Sweet Affirmations
If singing isn't for you, then why not talk to your baby? Gently whispering some loving words or a soft prayer will create memories for you both. If you're struggling with motherhood, you can choose to repeat affirmations about yourself:
"I am a patient and loving Mother"
"I love my baby and my baby loves me"
"I'm so blessed to be able to provide my baby with breastmilk"
These are some ideas for affirmations you can use. These may reinforce any mothering anxiety you may have. Saying these loving affirmations in the middle of the night when no-one else is around is the perfect time to do it, in my opinion.
You can also employ any of these ideas if you're breastfeeding during the day. If you have any other ideas on staying alert and focused on breastfeeding through the night, we'd love to hear from you!