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According to a study done by West Virginia University, breastfeeding moms and bottle-feeding moms get about the same amount of sleep. I don’t often question results -- especially ones that might give more moms-to-be a reason to choose breastfeeding -- but this is a study I’m losing sleep over. As a once-breastfeeding mama, I know all about the sleep deprivation that comes along with having to feed your baby every two to three hours, around the clock.
Formula-feds infants are notorious for not getting hungry as often as breastfed ones. Plus, if you're not breastfeeding, it's easy to give Dad midnight feeding duty (and you definitely don't have to worry about getting up to use a breastpump), right? So, I wonder, how on earth could the study be correct?
The moms in the study were asked to rank the quality of their sleep and report about how many times they awoke at night. I think this is where the problem lies. All new moms -- breastfeeding, bottle feeding or otherwise -- have a sleep deficit. They run on empty for much of the day, trying to catch a couple of winks here and there and hoping for a decent span of Zzzs when it's dark outside. Being more tired than you've been in your entire life is the nature of new motherhood. Moms in this stage would most likely rate themselves as tired, unrested and lethargic regardless of how little sleep they got, and I think that the (very) few extra winks that bottle-feeding moms probably get makes little difference when self-reporting the quality of their sleep.
The study did suggest that bottle-feeding moms might not be delegating as much as they should be and that bottle preparation time is eating into their sleep time. Look, I’m all for breastfeeding -- clearly there are a ton of perks to making that choice -- but more sleep or equal sleep has never been touted as one of them and I’m hard-pressed to believe it is now.
Breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, maybe we all have a little bit to learn from this study. Whether it means using a breastpump so Dad can take over some feedings, or buying more bottles so that we're not washing them at 3 a.m., let's all try to make it a little easier on ourselves so that we can get more sleep.
What tricks can help new moms get more sleep? Chime in below!