Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Breastfeeding gives parents more sleep

baby sleeping
New parents sleep forty minutes longer, on average, if their baby is breastfed all the time, compared to additional formula feeding in the evening or at night. This is the result of a study with more than a hundred new parents and their first babies in California.

The main reason for giving formula supplement in the evening or at night is the hope that baby may be more quiet and let parents sleep better. Obviously wrong!

This study did not examine the difference between exclusively breastfed and exclusively formula fed babies. Thus it remains unclear what makes babies sleep worse: Is it the formula or is it mixing human milk and formula milk? Whatever, the authors conclude:

«Parents who supplement their infant feeding with formula under the impression that they will get more sleep should be encouraged to continue breast-feeding because sleep loss of more than 30 minutes each night can begin to affect daytime functioning, particularly in those parents who return to work.»
But what about mothers who haven't got enough milk? Read the advice I got from the Australian Breastfeeding Association in response to my post in the comment below.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/misslibbyh/708714440/

Comment from the Australian Breastfeeding Association
This is a subject close to my heart as I am manager of the Australian Breastfeeding Association Lactation Resource Centre. I would just like to comment that there are of course rare maternal conditions that will affect the ability to produce a full supply but the major causes of low supply in the developed world are; not feeding the baby often enough; a lack of knowledge about how the milk supply works; a lack of knowledge about normal baby feeding and sleeping behaviour. Briefly milk is produced in response to demand. The baby feeds and the milk producing cells in the breast are stimulated to produce milk. If a baby is not feeding well a mother may have to express her milk to keep up a good milk supply. Normally a mother needs to do nothing more than offer the breast when the baby shows signs of hunger. This will ensure demand and supply will be in sync. If you are interested in this topic on a more scientific level please look up the publications from the research team of Professor Peter Hartmann. Also the International Society for Research Into Human Milk and Lactation website.

Kate Mortensen IBCLC, Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor

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