A recent Facebook post from a birth doula has gone viral for drawing attention to the fact that the structure of breast milk varies throughout the day.
The doula, Sarah Filmore, posted a picture of two containers with breast milk stored in a freezer and labeled “Day Milk” and “Night Milk.”
She wrote the following with the photo:
“One of the amazing qualities of human milk is how its composition changes throughout the day. Milk produced in the morning has three times the level of cortisol, a hormone that promotes alertness, than milk made at night. Night milk is higher in melatonin, which encourages sleep.”
What’s more, melatonin is barely detectable in milk produced during the day, according to ScienceAlert. Daytime milk might also benefit your baby’s immune system better than nighttime milk.
Sarah recommended that breastfeeding mothers label their milk with the time of day that it was pumped and feed their babies around that time.
“This may help your baby establish better circadian rhythms, and may help you get a better night’s rest,” Sarah wrote.
Huh, who knew?
Some commenters shared their experiences with this phenomenon. One Facebook user, Claire Sublett, said that she would pump a “bedtime bottle” for her daughter after she was asleep:
“We gave it to her every night before bed until she was one year and she started sleeping in her crib, overnight by 4 months. I’m a scientist and I did that deliberately because of the hormones that are secreted to support our circadian rhythms.”
There were also a couple of mothers questioning how they didn’t know such useful information. The annoyance from Facebook user Jessica Karcher can be felt through the screen:
“I pumped like a dairy cow, every three to four hours, for six f*****g months and nooooobody told me. Now the kids have f****d up sleep habits and I feel like my tits are to blame.”
We don’t think Jessica should be too hard on herself. In the over 15,000 Facebook users who reacted to this post, about 2,800 of them reacted with the “Wow” emoticon. It’s clear that this was news to many people. Hopefully more new mothers become informed about this strategy that could save them a lot of time and sleep.