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Sound Asleep: Does Breast Feeding Really Impact Sleep Patterns?

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Everyone knows that when you welcome a little one into your life and home, one of the major changes you can expect is compromised sleep, especially if you're breast feeding....right? Wrong...at least according to recent research.

The study, which recently made its way to the Internet suggests that new moms got the same amount of sleep after baby arrives as they did before regardless of if they were using formula or breast
feeding.

While some have previously suggested that infants who are breast fed have a tendency to sleep less, no one has actually every examined mom's sleep habits and how they changed. Yet, when experts actually examined the sleeping patterns of moms they found no difference based on how babies were fed.

Although new parents CAN expect to sleep less (overall), at least for the first few months, they can rest assured it has little to do with how baby is being fed. Still experts note that during a baby's first few months his or her digestive system lacks the maturity to hold enough food to keep baby full for more than a few hours at a time...and because breast milk is more easily digested, little ones who are breast fed are likely more apt to require more feedings than formula fed infants.

However, experts point out that while starting baby off on formula may seem appealing, breast feeding is important for mom and baby and their healthy. Still, a significant amount of sleep loss can also be detrimental to mom and may even lead to post partum mood disorders say experts.

Ironically the study which examined both groups of women could not find a difference in their sleep, though experts aren't exactly sure why.

Breast milk they add contains the hormone prolactin, which professionals say may have a sleep inducing effect on infants. But, they add that breast-fed babies may in fact, wake up faster or more frequently so the key for moms is finding a way to get a more consolidated sleep. They suggest scheduled feedings, as well as expressing breast milk and having some else do the feeding, giving mom a chance to catch up on her zzz's.

Last but not least, experts point out that midnight feeding and waking up in the middle of the night is only temporary. Infants start sleeping longer, even through the night between 2 and 4 months old.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Sound Asleep: Does Breast Feeding Really Impact Sleep Patterns?

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