When You Need Extra Sleep
Many new mothers adjust very well to the frequent sleep interruptions that are virtually inevitable when it comes to breastfeeding an infant. But for some women, getting at least one extended block of shut-eye at night can mean the difference between being happy and functional and feeling out of sorts and overwhelmed. "Breastfeeding is very hard work, and we see a lot of depression in women who are having problems dealing with it," says Dr. Snyder. If you know that adequate sleep is important for your mental health, try asking your spouse to give your baby a bottle of formula at one of the nighttime meals. This will provide the restful break you need while giving him a bonding opportunity with your baby. An added bonus: Your child may sleep a bit longer than usual, since formula takes a bit longer to digest than breast milk and stays in her stomach longer.
Helpful hints: Have your partner take over the late-evening feeding (generally around 11 p.m.) so that you can fall into bed at, say, 9 o'clock and enjoy an uninterrupted stretch of sleep until the middle of the night without having to ask him to wake up. Or, if you operate better on a later schedule, have him give your baby a bottle at 3 a.m. so you can rest from, say, 11:30 p.m. till the early morning. You might wake up engorged and uncomfortable the first few times, but your body will adjust quickly to the reduced demand.
Originally published in the August 2011 issue of Parents magazine.