Is it just me or do you ever feel as though as a mother you have to make a choice between a good sleeper and a good feeder? Some social media accounts may have you believing that this is the case. Some even suggesting that ignoring an overtired babies cries and feeding them instead somehow erases their desperate need for sleep.
As someone who has studied both breastfeeding and sleep, I believe that both are just as important as the other. Each one sustaining the other in a natural cycle of survival. Babies instincts are governed by reflexes and hormones (cortisol the wake up and move hormone, and melatonin the sleep hormone). Hormones prefer to operate under predictable cycles rather than spontaneous events (eg fight or flight response) and the one biggest and most essential influence to regulating our hormones and circadian rhythm is the sun.
Feeding appears to be more disorganised than sleep cycles but what came first.. the chicken or the egg? Why is it that a baby that sleeps well often feeds well in predictable cycles (eg. this could be 2 hourly, 3 hourly, maybe more but a pattern none the less). However if sleep is fragmented so is feeding. No patterns or cycles = infant distress. I believe both areas need our attention to help the body find it’s natural flow. Suggesting that a mother’s major focus be offering a feed for every scenario could be detrimental (there is no one size fits all).
Why baby-led feeding and or sleeping doesn’t always work:
Baby-led feeding and sleep can be problematic for todays parents as the majority spend 90% of their time indoors surrounded by LED lights, EMF exposure, artificial heating and cooling ect ect. This means babies (young children and adults) are not receiving the correct signals from AM sunlight to organise hunger and sleep hormones for the rest of the day. For sleep this is melatonin, it’s made in the morning by first sunlight exposure and then released 4 hours after dark. It is essential for humans to be able to sleep. Being exposed to artificial light during the day and evening decreases/blocks melatonin release = insomnia and poor quality sleep. As parents, it’s our responsibility to ensure our babies become regulated with the natural cycle of the sun.
It doesn’t matter what your parenting style is, your child’s sleep is important (just as important as feeding) and it requires your attention and understanding in order to integrate healthy age appropriate sleep totals and habits.
So I’m making a stand… I don’t want a war on sleep. I never did! but I do want to put an end to it. I’m erasing the line in the sand and saying that for the health and wellbeing of future generations its time mothers (and all parents) unite and come together with understanding and through education that both sleep and feeding cycles are hugely important.
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