Nighttime Feedings Are Important - Legendairy Milk

Nighttime Feedings Are Important

By: Sabrina Granniss, IBCLC


1 min

Are you nursing or pumping in the middle of the night?

I know we all treasure our sleep, but for most women, middle-of-the-night milk removals are essential for building supply in the early weeks and maintaining that supply long-term.


Here’s why: ⁣⁣

It’s important to not go long periods without emptying your breasts. In the book, Making More Milk, they state that “each skipped feeding decreases milk production by that same amount unless you compensate by pumping, preferably at about the same time.” ⁣⁣⁣

Prolactin — the major milk-making hormone — is naturally higher at night when you sleep. Prolactin starts to rise 90 minutes after sleep begins, with maximum peaks at 4-5 hours, and it can stay high two hours after waking up. The prolactin surge in response to a baby suckling at the breast is also higher at night. Fun Fact: Even short naps during the day can cause your prolactin levels to increase.⁣⁣⁣

When you’re sleepy and relaxed, milk tends to flow more easily — making it easier to empty your breasts, which will stimulate more milk production.⁣⁣

There are a few exceptions: Women with abundant milk production or large breast storage capacities may be able to do without a middle-of-the-night milk removal. But for the most part, many of us would benefit from taking advantage of the higher prolactin levels during REM sleep to nurse (dream feed) or pump. Even if all looks well in the beginning, a gradual or sudden drop-off in production can happen after a few weeks/months if an insufficient number of middle-of-the-night milk removals were established in previous weeks.⁣


Milk supply is highest overnight, because our bodies “expect“ to be feeding our babies nearly continuously overnight. Whenever babies start sleeping long stretches overnight and we don't nurse or pump, supply down-regulates — your body thinks the baby doesn’t need milk anymore (or at least a lot less). If you’d prefer not to pump, dream feeding is a great option!

Night-Time Feedings Are Important - Prolactin
FROM THE EDITED VOLUME "Prolactin" ​​Edited by György M. Nagy and Bela E. Toth


Any suggestions on a timeline/routine for night time pumping that allows for at least a decent amount of sleep? My baby goes to bed around 7pm (I nurse and do a small bottle) and sleeps until 6am. I’d like to just pump once but found that two pumps are needed to get milk to send to daycare with.


My freezer stash is basically gone. My baby got parechovirus when he was 3 weeks and depleted my freezer stash when he was in hospital. I am trying to build it back up but he is nursing every 1.5-2 hrs and he’s 5months now. How can I get my stash back up? I’m trying but it feels like he’s constantly eating. He hasn’t changed his eating habits since birth. I don’t mind but I just want to make sure I have enough for him or if something were to happen he has milk still.


I would greatly appreciate any advice I got the colostrum for 2 to 3 days and after that I got no milk supply not even a drop? Any advice it is still possible to get milk supply


My baby is 7 months old and I get up to pump every night around 3am! I’ve been doing it since she was 2 months old. It’s helped me keep up my supply and I wouldn’t have enough milk to send with her to daycare without it.
Legendairy Milk replied:
😊❤️ Congratulations on 7 months! You’re a rockstar, mama!


I cosleep with my baby and he eats way more frequently at night than during the day… now I know why! Seems totally biologically appropriate and makes me feel better about cosleeping!

Alyssa F
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