Many moms love the special intimacy of a night-time feed; those rare moments when it’s just you and your little one while the rest of the world slumbers on. Others groan the moment they hear that hungry summons – especially if you’ve already had several call-outs, night after night. But, love them or hate them, there’s no doubt the night-time feed affects your daytime vitality and energy. Here’s how to minimise the impact.
Get the right equipment
A comfy feeding chair is a lifesaver and staying relaxed will help you to fall asleep easily again. Keep a light blanket and your slippers nearby, so that you’re not bothered by the night’s chill.
Start the night before
This is especially important if you’re bottle feeding: make sure you have a sterilised bottle at the ready, along with the correct measure of formula. This cuts the time between baby’s first cry and the feed, so that she doesn’t work herself into a “hangry” state. If it’s winter, set your gown out where you can grab it and go.
Don’t forget your own hunger pangs
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll have realised that nursing works up quite a hunger. It’s obviously not a good idea to tuck into a heavy meal at 3am in the morning, but you might find that a light snack and a glass of water – kept within easy reach of the feeding chair – helps settle your stomach.
Any moms married to early morning golfers or cyclists? If so, you’ve probably been subject to the sounds of someone fumbling around to find the right gear, maybe turning on the light for a bit of help – and you know it’s not easy to go back to sleep after that. Your baby feels just the same, so keep the lights low (use a lamp or night light) and try not to talk or engage. If a nappy change can’t be avoided, do it before the feed so that you can slip her back into the cot as soon as she’s done.
Burp your baby
This one is crucial – even if it feels as though you’ve already been up for hours. In fact, any minutes you save by rushing through the burp will be paid for later on – your baby isn’t likely to fall asleep if she has uncomfortable winds .
Go easy on yourself
Don’t focus on getting your baby back to sleep at your own expense – you also want to be able to pick up where you left off in your dream. That’s why it’s important not to look at your watch when you hear that cry; counting the hours you have left to sleep, especially if the feed is taking a while, will make you feel panicky. It’s also best to leave your phone turned off, even if you’re tempted to while away the minutes on your timeline. The blue light of your screen will stop you falling asleep again quickly, so rather listen to soothing music or, if you simply can’t relax without doing something, read some light fiction.
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.