In the Hospital · Common Problems · Waking a Sleeping Baby. Breastfeeding is most successful if babies wake up to breastfeed at least once a night at this age. If the baby sleeps more than 6 to 7 hours at night, the mother's prolactin level drops. Prolactin is the hormone that urges breasts to continue producing milk.
If the baby goes a long period without breastfeeding, such as 8 to 10 hours, not only could his milk supply decrease, but his period could return, further reducing his milk supply and increasing his chances of pregnancy. At first, it may seem like you're doing nothing but feeding. But little by little, you and your baby will adopt a pattern and the amount of milk you produce will stabilize. When babies can easily turn from front to back and back to front, it's okay for them to stay in the sleeping position of their choice.
It may seem that every time you finish breastfeeding and go to sleep, your baby starts to take root or cry. The first milk that sprouts (anteleche) is loaded with proteins and antibodies, and has additional water to quench the baby's thirst. Otherwise, remembering and encouraging a sleepy baby to breastfeed every two to three hours during the day and every four hours at night may be important to prevent undernourishment. And just when you think that sleeping through the night seems like a distant dream, things start to get a little easier.
For example, breastfed babies may have had more skin-to-skin contact, which reduced their stress levels and made it easier to sleep. This is the point where parents gain the expectation that the baby will sleep through the night, and begin to compare notes with other families about infant sleep. The sooner mature milk arrives, the better your hungry baby will be breastfed and you may sleep longer. The longest periods of sleep for breastfed newborns are generally 2 to 3 hours, which is how long their small stomachs can last between meals.
It's not a bad idea to start putting your baby to bed for a nap or sleep when the baby seems sleepy but isn't fully asleep yet. If newborns sleep for a while, they may be hungrier during the day and may want to breastfeed more often. If your baby has been breastfeeding all night, he will often sleep more soundly and for longer, closer to the morning. This means that breastfed babies are more likely to wake up at night to eat, after 3 to 6 hours of sleep, compared to formula-fed babies.
Breastfeeding at night is important because that's when more hormones (prolactin) are produced to increase milk production. Hahn-Holbrook and colleagues point out that a regular, poorly programmed “milk” diet could interfere with the development of a baby's circadian rhythms, contributing to sleep problems.