Nicole - posted on 04/15/2010 ( 45 moms have responded )
I see a lot of questions where mothers are trying to cut out nighttime feedings and/or other moms suggesting to give formula at night to cut down on nightly feedings. Well, this is not the best advice and here is why:
Several studies between 2004 and 2009, showed that exclusive breastfeeding mothers got more sleep. Three sets of parents have been studied: those that were exclusively breastfeeding, those that were breastfeeding AND formula feeding, and those who were feeding only formula.
Although, the exclusively breastfeeding mothers were awakened more times throughout the night than the other mothers, they still got an average of 40-45 minutes MORE sleep each night. They also showed that this didn't matter whether the baby was rooming-in or sleeping in a separate room. Even if the baby was rooming-in with it's parents, but NOT exclusively breastfed, the mother still got less sleep than the mother giving her baby only breastmilk.
Not only did the breastfeeding mothers get more sleep, they got BETTER SLEEP. The studies showed that REM (rapid eye movement) sleep was similar within the groups, but the difference in slow-wave sleep (SWS) was remarkable. People who get less SWS report more day-time fatigue. Studies also show that those who get less SWS are more likely to suffer depression. To be clear, the "breastfeeding mothers got an average of 182 minutes of SWS. Women in the control group had an average of 86 minutes. And the exclusively bottle-feeding women had an average of 63 minutes."
In short, women who do not exclusively breastfeed get less sleep, get less restorative sleep, and are more likely to suffer depression.
Or, as you can read here: www.ibreastfeeding.com/content/newsletter/nighttime-breastfeeding-and-maternal-mental-health.
"The results of these previous studies are remarkably consistent. Breastfeeding mothers are less tired and get more sleep than their formula- or mixed-feeding counterparts. And this lowers their risk for depression. Doan and colleagues noted the following.
"Using supplementation as a coping strategy for minimizing sleep loss can actually be detrimental because of its impact on prolactin hormone production and secretion. Maintenance of breastfeeding as well as deep restorative sleep stages may be greatly compromised for new mothers who cope with infant feedings by supplementing in an effort to get more sleep time. (p. 201)
"In sum, advising women to avoid nighttime breastfeeding to lessen their risk of depression is not medically sound. In fact, if women follow this advice, it may actually increase their risk of depression."