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Breast-Feeding Won't Rob Mom of Sleep: Study
Date:11/8/2010

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- It's commonly believed that one of the sacrifices new moms must make in order to breast-feed is their sleep. But new research suggests that's just not the case.

The study, published online Nov. 8 in the journal Pediatrics, found that new mothers slept about the same amount of time whether they were breast-feeding or formula-feeding.

"There is some small evidence that infants who are breast-fed sleep less, but no one has ever looked at the mother's sleep," said the study's lead author, Hawley Montgomery-Downs, an assistant professor of psychology and coordinator of the behavioral neuroscience program at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

"But, we found absolutely no difference in the mother's sleep based on how babies were fed," said Montgomery-Downs.

New parents know -- or soon learn -- that sleep is something they just won't be getting enough of, for at least a few months. During those first few months, the baby's digestive system simply isn't mature enough to hold enough food to keep the baby sated for more than a few hours at a time. Because breast milk is more easily digested, babies who are breast-fed generally wake up to eat more often than formula-fed babies.

"Women sometimes use the rationale of wanting and needing more sleep as a reason not to breast-feed, but breast-feeding is so important for both the mom and the baby's health, we wanted to determine whether formula- or breast-feeding would have an effect on maternal sleep," Montgomery-Downs said.

And, she added, the researchers realize that women shouldn't simply be told to get by with less sleep because it's good for the baby. A lack of sleep can have significantly detrimental effects on a new mother, and may even contribute to post-partum mood disorders, according to background information in the study.

"We wanted to have more empirical e
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