Do you hate your middle of the night pumping session? No one enjoys them – waking up and hooking yourself up to a breast pump at 3AM isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. It doesn’t have to be terrible, though! Here are three ways to make middle of the night pumping sessions (also known as MOTN pumps) easier – and get back to sleep faster after you’re done pumping.
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Hook Yourself Up to Pump and Go Back to Sleep
One option (if you’re pumping at night while baby sleeps) is to wake up, hook yourself up to pump with a hands-free bra, position yourself in a comfy chair, and doze right back off to sleep.
There is pumping equipment that can make this easier, depending on your circumstances:
- Pumpin Pals make it easier to lean back without spilling.
- Spectra pumps turn off automatically after 30 minutes. (Alternatively, you could set an alarm for when you want to stop the pump; then you could go right back to sleep.)
- If you think there’s a chance you may pump more than 5 oz on one side during your nighttime session, bigger bottles can prevent overflow.
The major con with this option is the risk of spilling your milk in your sleep if you slump over too far or move around a lot. (Also, some women are too distracted by the pump to fall asleep while pumping.) However, if you don’t move too much while you sleep, this is one way to maximize sleep while getting your pumping sessions in!
Pump in Bed, Waking Up As Little As Possible
Here the goal is to stay awake for your pumping session, but to do so in a way that makes it easier for you to fall back asleep when you’re done pumping.
Here are some things you can do:
- Keep everything you need near your bed, ready to go, so that when you wake up to pump, your breast pump is right there, your pump parts are all put together and attached to the bottles you’re going to pump into, etc.
- Keep the lights off or low (this will make it easier for you to go back to sleep when you’re done pumping). To help you position your breast shield and see how much you’re pumping, you can try using a Lactalite or the light from your cell phone.
- One good option to entertain yourself while pumping is listening to a podcast or an audiobook, since looking at the light from your cell phone can shift your sleep schedule and make it harder to get REM sleep. (If you need to listen for your baby, use one earbud and leave the other out!)
- When you’re done pumping, unhook yourself, put caps on the bottles, and – depending on what time it is – go back to sleep without heading to the kitchen to put your milk in the fridge. Breast milk can sit out for 4 – 8 hours at room temperature, so if it’s not really early in the night, you can keep the milk on your nightstand and feed it to your baby at his or her next feeding. (Another brilliant idea – one mom on the Facebook page said that she used a mini-fridge as her nightstand and stored her milk in there. A cooler would work great too!)
Wake Up Completely, But Do Something You Enjoy
In this scenario, you wake up completely, turn the lights on, etc. Maybe you’re also feeding the baby at this time, or you don’t like the idea of falling asleep while pumping or pumping in the dark.
If you’re going to wake yourself up completely, you should give yourself some kind of treat to look forward to when you pump so that it’s not such a slog.
- Watch a show on Netflix that you only watch during middle of the night pumping sessions (or during pumping sessions in general)
- Play a time wasting game like Candy Crush that you only play in the middle of the night
- Give yourself permission to do a little amazon shopping (or maybe just put some stuff on your wish list!)
- When you’re done pumping and ready to go back to bed, you’ll probably be hungry – reward yourself with a small treat (a lactation cookie, some chocolate, etc.) – you just burned a bunch of calories pumping anyway!
Look at it this way – if middle of the night pumping sessions are less miserable, you’ll be less likely to skip them – which means that the cookie you’re eating is also reducing your chances of clogged milk ducts and mastitis and helping with your milk supply. (See how that works?! I can rationalize anything!)
What tips do you have to make middle of the night pumping sessions easier? Share your pumping at night tips in the comments!References
- National Sleep Foundation. “Why Electronics May Stimulate You Before Bed” https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/why-electronics-may-stimulate-you-bed