Breastfeeding at Night: Should I Wake Baby?
- June 19, 2020
- by Melissa Lawrence
A mom of a baby who has just started solids wrote in wondering how to maintain her milk supply. She asked whether she should wake up her baby during the night (or pump) in order to ensure that her milk supply does not decrease. I offer my tips in today’s new video (and pop in one other tip below!)
Feeding Schedule for 6-Month-Old Baby
To start, I recommend NEVER waking a baby who is sleeping at night. My advice has always been to feed baby regularly during the day at intervals of 3-4 hours, and to give solid naps in between. Here’s a rough picture of a 6-month-old baby breastfeeding schedule: 7am, 11am, 3pm at 7pm. After this, you might give a “top off” feed or “dream feed” at around 10 or 11pm. When you stick to this schedule, making sure after each feeding that baby is awake and full, over time baby will drop the nighttime feeds and then finally the top off feed.
When you get to this stage, DO NOT wake the baby up in order to maintain milk supply. Why? Well first, you are trying to mimic the baby’s feeding needs with your milk supply, providing milk when your baby needs it. You do not need to produce milk when your baby is not hungry for milk. Also, you don’t want to encourage nighttime awakenings, you want to discourage these. Some folks even say that when a baby wakes up at night, you should not be friendly and play; rather, you should feed and run, so as to dissuade your baby from looking to nighttime feedings as a way to spend time with you.
All that said, what are other good ways to maintain milk supply after three months? I recommend pumping a bit after each feed, for just five minutes or so, and storing that milk over the course of the day. I also recommend lots of water and hydration. When you skip a feed, try to make sure to pump at that time, even for just 10 minutes or so (ideally 20). Another thing I recommend for a baby eating solids is to give the milk first. This way, you ensure that your baby is getting enough milk, you are stimulating your breasts to supply milk, and you can take a short break after the milk portion of the meal and give the solids. I went over this with my pediatrician and he was fine with it.
What is Power Pumping
And here’s a new tip: so-called Power Pumping. To power pump, pump intensively for one hour, pumping for 10 minutes, then taking a break for 10 minutes, pumping again for 10 minutes, then taking a 10-minute break, and continuing on in this fashion until an hour has passed. Many moms rave about this technique. I have my doubts since I think generally the goal is to imitate how and when baby eats. But if you are struggling with milk supply with an older baby, definitely give power pumping a try.
Anyway, that’s it for my tips for this mama. Check out my video and thanks for reading, power mamas.