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Sleep, Rest, and Breast-Feeding


Topic Overview

Rest and sleep are important to breast-feeding women for keeping up their energy and their milk production.

Help yourself sleep well

  • Avoid or limit caffeine, especially in the hours before bedtime. Caffeine can keep you awake.
  • Use the evening hours for settling down.
  • Make exercise a regular part of your life, but don't do it within 3 to 4 hours of bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool. Try using a sleep mask to help you sleep.
  • Take a warm bath before bed.
  • Make your own sleep routine. Try to have the same bedtime and wake-up time each day.
  • Manage stress. The stress and worry that come with having a child who isn't sleeping well may be causing you sleep problems too.
  • Take naps and find time to rest for short periods throughout the day, such as when your baby sleeps.
  • You may be able to collect and store breast milk so that your partner can feed the baby while you sleep. Because both you and the baby have to learn how to breast-feed, you may want to wait a few weeks before you start pumping breast milk.

Help your baby sleep well

  • At night, set up a soothing routine. Give your baby a bath, sing lullabies, read a book, or tell a story.
  • Put your baby down for sleep in a quiet, darkened room.
  • Act quickly—but not too quickly—when your newborn wakes up for a feeding, so that he or she doesn't have a chance to fully wake up. First wait a minute or so to see if the child goes right back to sleep.
  • Settle your baby down to sleep as quickly as possible if he or she is not acting hungry during a nighttime feeding.
  • If your baby wakes up and doesn't settle down, check to see if he or she is hungry or needs a diaper change. Feed or change your baby quietly. Keep the light low. Don't play with or sing to your baby. Put him or her back in the crib as soon as you can.
  • Talk to your doctor about whether to let your baby "cry it out."
  • Try to stay calm. Young children are very sensitive to a parent's feelings of frustration.
  • Be consistent. If you change your plan for how to handle nighttime crying, make sure that you and your partner agree on it before you go to bed.

Get plenty of rest

Rest is also important for breast-feeding women to maintain their energy and milk production. You likely will not have a normal schedule when you first start to breast-feed. But you can take naps and find time to rest for short periods throughout the day, such as when your baby sleeps.

In addition to rest, exercise will also help you feel your best. For the time you are breast-feeding, try to plan a routine that incorporates both rest and exercise.

It is very important to ask for help when you need it. Ideally, plan ahead for certain periods that a friend, relative, or babysitter can come in to help with your chores and child care so you can exercise or rest.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last RevisedApril 14, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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