What New Moms Should Know About Middle of The Night Feedings and Pumps
What Is an MOTN Session and Why Is It So Important?
Middle Of The Night feedings and pumps, or MOTN for short, is when moms get up in the wee hours of the night to feed and/or pump their baby. Tiny babies have tiny bellies, and will need to be fed throughout the day and night. As your baby grows, so does the size of their stomach. They will generally start to sleep for longer amounts of time based on how much they eat, and how long it takes for them to digest that milk or formula.
Producing breast milk is about supply and demand, if you have a supply stocking up and no demand, your body will think that your extra milk is no longer needed, and will start to decrease your milk production. If your supply is constantly being used up, your body will think that it should keep producing more milk, because your baby must need it. That is why it’s so important to keep a consistent pumping and feeding schedule, so that your supply does not decrease prematurely.
Breast milk is natural and designed by mother nature for your baby. The good news is that it's easy to digest. The bad news is that your baby will wake up throughout the night until they grow old enough to get enough in one feeding to make it through the night.
Production Is at It's Highest
While you might feel groggy and unproductive, your body is working in overdrive from about 1AM-3AM. During this window, your body experiences is a surge in prolactin, which is the milk-making hormone. This surge in prolactin causes your body to produce more liquid gold.
Your body is also producing melatonin, something your little one doesn't yet have on their own. By breastfeeding or feeding your baby expressed milk via a bottle, you are helping them to develop their own healthy circadian rhythm.
New Mama? Welcome to the MOTN Club!
Basically, if you are awake feeding or pumping anywhere between the hours of midnight to 5AM on a consistent basis, you are a proud member of this mom exclusive MOTN club! It’s like a badge of honor to be sleep deprived never getting more than three straight hours of sleep, right?
Have no fear. After a while your body just gets used to sleeping in short two to three hour bursts to pump and feed. Nature has designed our babies to be this way so that means our bodies will adapt to this “pattern” when feeding and pumping to continue a healthy milk supply.
As an exclusive pumper, MOTN pumps were my least favorite. Just when the baby was asleep and I caught up on chores, maybe even had a moment to relax for the night, an hour would go by and my alarm would ring to wake me up for my MOTN pump.
When will Your baby sleep through the night and you be able to move on from the MOTN club?
Good news! As your baby gets older, the more likely your baby will begin to sleep for longer periods of time. Finally getting a full nights rest is just around the corner so just hang in there for a few months. Every baby is different but you will get to sleep again, I promise. Some experts say that you can start to sleep train your baby as early as four to six months old, while others prefer you let your baby be the judge.
When your baby does begin to sleep for longer periods of time, should you continue to set your alarm and wake up during the middle of the night? That choice is up to you. If you need help determining whether you should continue these MOTN pumping sessions, consult a lactation specialist. Together you'll be able to come to the right decision for you and your family.
So What How Do You Stay Occupied During MOTN Pumps or Feedings?
Go on Facebook private breastfeeding and pumping support groups and talk to other moms who are also up in the MOTN! After all, who else can relate to our extreme sleep deprivation and exhaustion than other moms in the same situation? It’s always nice to know you’re not on this journey alone. Moms sacrifice so much of ourselves and time to do what’s right for our little ones, and sometimes the journey can be a bit lonely.
Keep a book or eReader near by and catch a few pages while you work. Audio books are also great for these late night sessions. Grab a drink of water! Whatever you do, try to keep it a relaxing activity to help make falling back asleep when you are done pumping or feeding Baby easier.
Having a baby is a life-changing event so creating a support network of people who can empathize with the transition into motherhood is so valuable. Finding a support group of women to encourage and even provide helpful tips can make a world of a difference throughout this journey.
I joke about the MOTN club but it truly is a great honor to be able to comfort my daughter when in need.
These little moments are fleeting, so cherish every minute you get with your little one.
Happy MOTN pumping!