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Feeding at Night

You’re making a rod for your own back’ is what people love to tell you if you mention co-sleeping. ‘You’ll never get that child out of your bed’ is another one.

As if. You know it’s nonsense and that it has more to do with their own experiences, and the thoughtless comments which they had to put up with when they were in your situation, than it has to do with you.

But obviously you don’t want to intentionally make life hard for yourself, so what is the deal with co-sleeping? And is it something you should consider or be anxious about? Well, the long and the short of it is that according to Unicef 30% of babies will sleep in their parent’s beds within the first 6 months at some point.

So, even if you don’t plan to make every night a family sleepover, it’s important to know how to co-sleep safely. And if your baby contentedly sleeps in their cot within arms reach do you really need to go the whole hog and bring them into your bed? Probably not. Chances are you will at some point (if baby gets sick, you get sick, or if baby’s going through a growth spurt, etc) and maybe you’ll carry on, or maybe you won’t.

There are no hard fast rules. Just don’t get caught up whether that the occasional bed sharing (or 2 year long bedsharing) is right or wrong - just do what’s right for you and your family at the time.

Lisa and Philippa, co-founders of the Bshirt, are big fans of co-sleeping. It’s one of the 3 pillars of Attachment Parenting (co-sleeping, breastfeeding and babywearing) and they both co-slept with their children. As their sons were born in the winter months, they struggled to find a way to stay warm during night feeds. They didn’t want the duvet anywhere near the baby and were getting cold shoulders at night. Their breastfeeding top the Bshirt is perfect for night feeds as it keeps your shoulders and tummy warm whilst still having super easy feeding access.

The choice is yours. This was our experience:

The Up All Night Scenario

6:30pm Baby starts his bedtime feed

8:35pm Baby goes to bed after a 2 hour long cluster feed which is their normal bedtime habit.

8:40pm Mum and dad watch a single episode of their favourite show together

10:00pm Mum and dad go to bed

02:00am Baby wakes up for a feed. Mum gets out of bed, gets baby and sits in a chair for 60 minutes to feed baby

3:00am Mum goes back to sleep

4:30am Baby wakes again. Mum gets out of bed, gets baby and sits in a chair for 60 minutes to feed baby

5:30am Mum goes back to sleep

6:00am Baby is up for the day. Mum and Dad groan.

In this scenario Mum has had 6 hours of broken sleep and has been up for 2 hours in the night. Dad has had 8 hours of sleep.

The Co-Sleeping Scenario

6:30pm Baby starts his bedtime feed

8:35pm Baby goes to bed after a 2 hour long cluster feed which is their normal bedtime habit.

8:40pm Mum and Dad watch a single episode of their favourite show together

10:00pm Mum and dad go to bed

02:00am Baby wakes up for a feed. Mum gets out of bed, gets baby and brings baby into her bed to breastfeed.

2:05am Mum goes back to sleep

4:30am Baby wakes again. Mum barely has to wake up, she just has to find the other boob and she’s asleep within 2 minutes.

4:35am Mum goes back to sleep

6:00am Baby is up for the day. Mum and Dad groan.

In this scenario mum has had 7 hours and 50 minutes of broken sleep and has been up for 10 minutes in the night. Dad has had 8 hours of sleep.

    In this scenario mum has had 7 hours and 50 minutes of broken sleep and has been up for 15 minutes in the night. Dad has had 8 hours of sleep.

    Cosleeping will save your nights

    If you think that co-sleeping will work for you but you are worried about having your baby in your bed there are safe ways to co-sleep at night. Safe co-sleeping is a natural complement to night feeds and it can revolutionise your wellbeing.

     

    Here is some guidance provided on the NCT website about Sleep Safety:

  • Make sure your baby can’t fall out of the bed or become trapped between the mattress and the wall.
  • Keep your baby cool by using sheets and blankets rather than a duvet.
  • Ensure bedding does not cover your baby’s face or head.
  • You shouldn't co-sleep with your baby if you or your partner smokes (even if you don't smoke in the bedroom).
  • You shouldn't co-sleep with your baby if you either you or your partner has drunk alcohol or taken drugs (including medications that may make you drowsy).
  • Always put your baby to sleep on their back rather than their front or side.
  • Babies don’t need a pillow until they are at least a year old. They should also be kept away from parents' pillows.
  • Never risk falling asleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair. If you’re feeling really tired and think you may fall asleep with your baby while feeding or cuddling them on a sofa or armchair, move to a bed (keeping in mind the safety guidelines above) or, if possible, ask your partner, friend or family member to look after them while you get some rest.


  • The truth is that you will most likely fall asleep when feeding your baby at night because the hormones make you feel sleepy at night. Oxytocin is THE BEST hormone your body will ever make. It’s intended to maximise what little sleep you do get so that you can look after a baby all day and all night. It makes you feel all weepy and lovey toward your baby too, to make sure we carry on caring for this very demanding creature. It’s kind of the best thing ever and you will really miss your oxytocin when you’re finished with breastfeeding.

     

    Give in to it

    You will be breastfeeding your baby a lot. And we mean a lot. For hours at a time and then 20 minutes later for another FULL HOUR. Your baby will fall into a milk coma-like sleep which is the best thing on this planet if you are a baby. Your baby will pin you down for the entire day and or night. You might feel like a dairy cow. Stock up on books and magazines. Binge watch something you wouldn’t normally have time to watch. This is YOUR time to simply grow that baby. You have nothing else to do. No laundry, no thank you cards, no dishes. Eat when you can. Doritos are a food group. Embrace it. It's like the best sick day of your entire life. It might feel endless but it really won't last long.

     

    Sleeping through

    Your child will eventually stop breastfeeding and sleep through the night. Do not fret about this. NEVER ASK SOMEONE IF THEIR BABY SLEEPS THROUGH if you want to support a breastfeeding mum. And if someone asks you this question, you are totally justified to reply by saying: 

    This video by Dr Amy Brown is based on her research at Swansea University and explains why babies wake at night and why sleeping through really shouldn't be seen as a milestone, but just a natural stage that all babies reach at different times.

    When you wean your child (or when they wean themselves) they may take 6 -136 months to learn to sleep through. Which is (you guessed it) normal. So don't fret, follow your child’s lead, and rest assured that everything (including childhood) is a phase, and that it will pass.

    Breastfeeding Tips

    Check out our new breastfeeding tips section on topics such as the benefits of breastfeeding.
    Find out how much easier it is to breastfeed confidently in public with the Bshirt compared to using a breastfeeding cover.

    We are an Ethical British Breastfeeding Clothing Brand

    We're passionate about empowering women to breastfeed confidently for as long as they and their babies wish. We advocate adapting your existing wardrobe with our breastfeeding basics, rather than replacing your clothes with expensive short-term use maternity items.  We use only GOTS Certified Organic and responsibly sourced cotton in the manufacture of Bshirt products. This means that there is no use of harmful chemicals, pesticides and dyes. Choosing to buy organic clothing is good for you, your baby and the environment. You can read about our Ethical Fashion Principles here.



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