Milk supply at night

Infant sleep patterns, especially during the early months, are characterized by frequent waking, often every 2-3 hours, which is largely driven by their need for regular feeding. Night feedings play a crucial role in maintaining and boosting breast milk supply due to the hormonal mechanisms involved. Prolactin, a hormone essential for milk production, tends to be at its highest levels during nighttime. When an infant breastfeeds at night, the mother's body receives signals to produce more milk, ensuring an adequate supply for the baby's needs. Frequent night feedings help to maintain high prolactin levels and stimulate continuous milk production. Consequently, consistent night feeding is vital for establishing and sustaining a robust breast milk supply, particularly during the early weeks postpartum when the milk supply is being established. Skipping night feedings can lead to decreased milk production as the demand decreases, sending signals to the body to reduce milk output. Therefore, understanding and supporting infant sleep patterns that include night feedings are essential for successful breastfeeding.

Research indicates that newborns typically wake every 2-3 hours during the night for feeding. This frequent waking is due to their small stomach capacity and high metabolic rate, requiring regular intake of nutrients. Studies show that by the age of three months, many infants may start to sleep for longer stretches, though it is common for them to still wake at least once or twice during the night for feeding. On average, these night wakings can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how quickly the baby feeds and settles back to sleep.

A study published in *Sleep Medicine Reviews* highlighted that infants between the ages of 0-6 months wake up approximately 2-3 times per night. Another research in the *Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine* found that these night wakings typically decrease in frequency as the infant grows older, but individual patterns can vary widely. Some infants may continue to wake frequently throughout the first year, especially if they are breastfed, as breast milk is more quickly digested than formula, necessitating more frequent feedings.

Night feedings are crucial for maintaining breast milk supply due to the elevated levels of prolactin during nighttime. Consistent night feeding supports ongoing milk production by keeping prolactin levels high and ensuring that the body continues to respond to the infant's nutritional demands. Thus, understanding typical infant sleep patterns and their need for night feedings is essential for breastfeeding success and ensuring adequate milk supply.