We already know that breast milk is amazing and a recent article by Dr Gwen Dewar has shown just how incredible it really is.
It turns out there is a rather unexpected ingredient in breast milk that is produced at night that makes babies learn their days from their nights.
According to Dr Dewar, breastmilk pumped at night contains more melatonin – the hormone that induces drowsiness. Night breastmilk also contains higher levels of nucleotides that is thought to promote sleep.
As breastmilk that is produced in the morning contains a higher concentration of cortisol, the stress hormone that makes babies more alert.
And that melatonin content in night breastmilk is up to five times higher than daytime levels. The peak melatonin concentrations were found in milk pumped at 3am.
Are You Pumping Your Breast Milk?
Mothers who pump milk are encouraged to write the time of the day that the milk is pumped as ‘mistimed’ milk can contribute to a baby’s sleep patterns and will interfere with their developing circadian rhythms.
And let’s face it – anything we can do to help baby’s get a better sleep is good for us too!
Melatonin Levels Throughout the Day
- Melatonin is at its lowest level in breast milk at 7am.
- The level of melatonin peaks at 11pm through to 3am.
- As soon as it becomes dark at night, your body naturally starts increasing the levels of melatonin in your breast milk.
Melatonin Supplements are NOT Recommended for Lactating Women
Even though our body produces natural melatonin, the use of melatonin supplements for breastfeeding Mums is not recommended. There just isn’t yet enough research conducted to prove that it is safe. So avoid taking Melatonin supplements until you have fully weaned your baby.
The human body is truly a wonderful thing.