Hi mamas! I’m Lacey Parr, a certified lactation educator counselor and mom of 3. One our most commonly asked questions at Lactation Link is whether or not you should wake your baby to feed if they begin to sleep in longer intervals. Mamas and babies need good rest! My hope is that learning when to wake a sleeping baby or when to let them sleep will help bring you some more confidence.
Should I wake my baby to breastfeed?
Before 2 weeks
Before baby turns two weeks old and regains their birth weight, it is important to keep waking baby to feed. Babies at this age need to be fed around the clock every 2-3 hours or 8-12+ times in 24 hours. A newborn’s stomach can only hold a few teaspoons and must eat frequently to satisfy their hunger. This time is also crucial in establishing your milk supply, so frequent breastfeeding is key. Keep feeding on baby’s cues, whenever they are, and throughout the night.
After 2 weeks
While most babies will need to feed frequently throughout the night for several months, some will begin to sleep longer intervals. After baby regains his/her birth weight (around 10-14 days of life), it is normally safe to allow baby to sleep longer intervals (1). Some moms like to wake at this time to pump or hand express to relieve any pressure they might feel in their breasts. This can be a good time to start saving milk to return to work or school. But other moms take this time to get more sleep. Do whatever works for you and your family! If your breasts do feel full and you need to express, but you worry about having to wake every night to relieve that pressure, know that this will not last forever! Try expressing just long enough to relieve the pressure and your breasts will adjust. Any experiences with this? Share in the comments.
Get more breastfeeding wisdom and answers to commonly asked questions with our Confident Breastfeeding Course. Click the image below.
Thanks for stopping by,
Lacey Parr, BS, CLEC
(1) Lauwers, J. & Swisher, A.. (2011). Breastfeeding in the early weeks. Counseling the Nursing Mother (5th ed., pp. 378). Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.