Sleep; Your Best Friend and Your Worst Enemy
So I have a baby that sleeps 7-9 hour stretches and then goes back to sleep for another 3-4. Did I hit the baby jackpot? Well no, because she hates bottles, pacifiers, cars, and basically anything that isn’t my boob in her face while she’s suspended from a woven wrap strapped to my aching body. Well then maybe I did something right? Maybe it took me three kids to realize how the heck to get a baby to sleep at night.
My favorite breastfeeding “go to” website describes foremilk and hindmilk in terms of fat content. This is extremely important to understand when talking about sleep.
So now you know what I mean when I say foremilk and hindmilk. This balance is very important. The thinner foremilk flows easier throughout the breast and satisfies a hungry baby quickly allowing them to settle into the nursing session. As the baby removes the foremilk, the thicker hindmilk is moved forward and consumed by the baby. Hindmilk has a much higher fat content and takes longer to digest. You want your baby to empty the entire breast and have access to the thicker foremilk.
Block feeding; not just for the over supply. So what is block feeding you ask? It means you use one breast per nursing session to feed your baby, it also means your baby will remove more of the thicker fattier hindmilk (this may not be the case if you use both breasts during each nursing session). I started doing this in hopes of being able to feed Jagger off of one breast while pumping the other. I did this within the first 3-4 weeks to ensure my body would produce enough for me to donate to another baby in need. What did block feeding do for me? Coupled with pumping once in the morning, block feeding increased my supply. So what does my day of nursing look like; I pump whenever Jagger wakes up, she is usually laying in my lap nursing off of my right breast while she holds the pump bottle for my left breast between her legs. I pump 6-8 ounces during this pump session. I go about my day and nurse her on demand. This means I offer her the breast whenever she seems to want it. Lately she enjoys being worn and having unrestricted access to my breasts while she dozes off to sleep. I cant tell you how much she nurses during the day but if we are home it is pretty much on and off as much as she wants. She wants to nurse and be worn around 5pm, while I cook dinner and get Harper and Gunnar ready for bed. Once theyre in bed by 6pm I take jagger out of the carrier and nurse her in the laid back position on my bed. Once she is out, or seems to be out, I lay her on her belly in the pack and play next to my bed. Sometimes thats all it takes and shes out for the night, other times I have to pick her back up and nurse her more. Sometimes it takes me picking her back up 3-4 times. If my husband is home, and Ive already picked her up a few times, he will hold her upright on his chest and get her to sleep. I cant rock her, she smells me and my milk and roots like a mad woman and then gets super pissed off.
So now shes out for the night between 6-6:45pm. I can expect her to wake up anywhere from 2am-5am. She will nurse for about 30 minutes give or take and go right back to sleep. If its closer to 2am, I can expect her to be up around 5 ish and then go back down until 7 when the crazies start screaming. If she wakes up closer to 5 she will go back down until 7am as well.
Why do my kids go to bed so early?
All of my children have inadvertently chosen their bed times, interestingly enough, they all are at the same time, coincide with daylight, and light exposure in general. It wasnt until I attended a wellness and wellbeing lecture given by Dr. Palevsky, that I had the answers to why my children went to bed so early. In short; Humans are meant to rise and set with the sun. We do our work during the day, when its light out, and rest in the darkness. The invention of the lightbulb threw off the natural pattern of rise and set by keeping us awake during times when we should be resting. This also explains why people get sick in the winter. During the summer we have longer daylight hours and more exposure to vitamin D, meaning we work harder and are expending more energy, being outside in the sun keeps us healthy as well. When winter comes, we spend much less time outside (less vitamin D) and are recovering from working harder and longer in the summer. So what does this mean? We are doing too much!
Read this for a good explanation of what I learned organically from my own children:
Lastly, in order for children to rest, you need to ease their FOMO (fear of missing out). You can do this by quieting your home about an hour before an intended bed time. This means, no TV, no IPADs, no media, no sugary snack. Zero stimulation. These activities can disrupt the body as explained above. We read 3-4 books before bed and Harper and Gunnar play with little toys in their room while we get ready for bed or I am putting things away. If you came into my home during bed time, you would think the house was vacant. Every single light is off downstairs, and everything is turned off. So if my kids wake up and need something, they see theyre not missing out on anything.
I hope this helps!