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Does Your Breastfed Baby Sleep Through the Night? Milk Supply FAQs Answered
“Should I pump if my baby sleeps all night without waking to breastfeed?”
Trust me, you’re not alone in wondering if you’ll lose your milk supply if your baby misses a nighttime feed or two.
It’s a valid question, and I’m here to provide all the answers you’re looking for when it comes to breast pumping at night.
Honestly, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so we’ll get into the nitty gritty shortly. But first….
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to replace professional medical advice.
At What Age Do Babies Start Sleeping Through the Night?
Firstly, it completely depends on the baby. Secondly, there’s no clear-cut answer to this question because it really depends on how you define “sleeping through the night”.
According to Healthline, experts generally consider “sleeping through the night” as sleeping 6 to 9 hours at a time for children and adults.
Now, back to the question at hand: At what age do babies start sleeping “through the night”? Like I said, it completely depends on the baby.
Some sources claim that most babies are sleeping through by three months, while others cite six to twelve months as the expected time frame.
Personally, I’ve found that even if a baby is sleeping longer stretches, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will always continue to do so. Various factors come into play here: teething, illness, etc.
So don’t be alarmed if your baby briefly stops sleeping through the night!
Should I Pump if My Baby Sleeps Through the Night?
Once your supply has regulated, you likely won’t need to pump during the night. I have never had to pump during the night when my babies have slept longer stretches.
However, if your baby typically wakes up at a certain time every night and, for some reason, misses a feeding one night, you can pump to help keep up your supply. It’s not always necessary, though, unless you have a history of low milk supply.
And if you find that you’re getting engorged or wake up really uncomfortable, it can help to pump or hand express just enough to relieve the pressure (but not enough to drain the breast).
Depending on when you last fed your baby, you could even pump before heading to bed – but, like I said, I’ve been fortunate enough that I never needed to do so.
How to Avoid Mastitis When Baby Sleeps Through the Night
Sometimes, engorgement leads to plugged milk ducts, which occasionally lead to mastitis (an infection in the breast). So, how can you prevent mastitis if your baby is starting to miss nighttime feeds?
- Get some sleep! Allow your body to regulate your milk production by avoiding pumping during the night (as long as you aren’t uncomfortable).
- If you wake up feeling engorged, pump or hand express just enough to provide relief without draining the breast.
- And if you do get a clogged milk duct, pump and breastfeed frequently to help get the milk flowing again.
Of course, if you suspect that you have mastitis, contact a healthcare professional right away.
Breast Milk Supply FAQ
Will My Milk Supply Drop When My Baby Sleeps Through the Night?
No, your milk supply adjusts to the demands of your baby. So if they start sleeping longer stretches at night, your body will eventually produce less during this time.
However, your baby should make up for it by eating more during the day, which means your body should start to produce more during this time.
Can I Go 8 Hours Without Pumping at Night?
If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you don’t have a low milk supply, and your baby is growing well, then yes – you should be able to go eight hours without pumping at night.
If you’re exclusively pumping (or pumping and nursing), then you’ll just want to be sure that you’re getting enough milk during the day. Then you should be able to go eight hours without pumping during the night.
How Do I Keep My Milk Supply Up When My Baby Sleeps All Night?
Milk production is based on supply and demand. So if your baby gets enough milk during the day, then the best way to keep your milk supply up is to get uninterrupted sleep at night.
When Should I Stop Waking My Baby to Feed at Night?
Babies younger than four weeks should be fed at least every 4-5 hours at night. If your baby is older than four weeks, you can let them sleep as long as they want, as long as they have wet/dirty diapers and have been gaining weight normally.
In today’s article, we’ve answered the question: “Should I pump if my baby sleeps all night?” I also answered some related questions to help explain what happens when a breastfed baby starts to sleep through the night.
Of course, my breastfeeding journey is certainly going to be different than yours, so while I have never had to pump during the night, that might not be the case for you. And if you’re waking up during the night to pump, you’re a rockstar!
Good luck, mama.