Q: My baby seems to be waking more at night since I’ve gone back to work! Why is that?
We have three theories about why your baby might experience an increase in nighttime wakefulness right as you go back to work.
First, many breastfeeding parents go back to work close to the three to four month mark. This stage is a big developmental growth period where many sleep, language, and intellectual changes occur. These can all create changes in nighttime wakefulness.
Second, your baby has noticed the big shift that occurred in your family’s life when you returned to work. They may have a new caregiver and may be spending their day in a new childcare environment. “It is not uncommon for babies to wake more at night as a way to reconnect with mom,” said Patricia Berg-Drazin, RLC, IBCLC, CST-D, and a moderator on the Breastfeed Chicago parent support Facebook group. “It is difficult for moms, but they miss you,” Berg-Drazin said. Night-time nursing gives your baby important reconnection time after a long day away from you.
Third, your baby may be reverse cycling; that is, he or she might take a smaller amount of breast milk while away from you, and make up for it by nursing more while you are home during the evening and night.
The silver lining to night-time nursing? Frequent nursing when you are home from work and with your baby is great for your supply! Pumps can be less efficient than a nursing baby, and the physical closeness you have with your little one can help to offset any dip in supply that might occur when you back to work. Middle of the night feedings can be a cozy, quiet opportunity to cuddle after a day at work.
If you’re tired from all that working and nighttime nursing, we recommend heading to bed a bit earlier on work nights and getting in some extra sleep (with the help of a partner or family member) on your days off of work.
Check out two of our most popular blog posts, 5 Cool Things No One Ever Told You About Nighttime Breastfeeding and our Nighttime Breastfeeding FAQ for more information.
Going back to work and breastfeeding? This question is part of Breastfeed Chicago’s Ultimate Back-to-Work Breastfeeding Guide. Read the full guide to help the transition go smoothly!