This question seems to be coming up lately on popular parenting forums : is there such a thing as night milk and morning milk and does morning milk wake babies up while night milk makes them sleepy!?

Jillian Harris has had some amazing breastfeeding conversations on her pages – we were inspired to continue the chat on this interesting topic!

The short answer is YES!... let me explain.

Breastmilk composition actually DOES change throughout the day. In the wee hours of the morning our bodies have peek levels of prolactin circulating- this is the hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that helps us produce milk. This is also why moms tend to have the most VOLUME of milk early in the day! The more full our breasts are the more thin/less fat there is in our milk. This is because as milk sits in our breasts over time the more water gets absorbed into our breasts as well.

In contrast- “night milk” tends to be lower in volume BUT higher in fat content. Research is also showing us that this “night milk” is also higher in a hormone called Melatonin (1) (2)- which helps us sleep! It is generally believed that the reason for the common phenomenon of cluster feeding in the evening is so a baby can fill up on smaller meals of higher fat milk- which digests slightly slower, has higher levels of melatonin, and may in fact help babies sleep their longest stretch during that first sleep of the night. Nature truly thought of everything! If you’re a pumping mom (first off- you are AMAZING and we so admire your dedication!!)- you can certainly label your pumped milk as AM/PM- it can’t hurt and aren’t we all hopeful for more sleep as parents!❤

Christine Schubert RN,BN,MPH,IBCLC

1. Cohen Engler A, Hadash A, Shehadeh N, Pillar G. Breastfeeding may
improve nocturnal sleep and reduce infantile colic: Potential role of
breast milk melatonin. Eur J Pediatr. 2012;171:729-32. PMID: 22205210
2. Rudzik AE, Robinson L, Ball HL. Infant sleep duration and melatonin
levels in exclusively breastfed and exclusively formula fed infants. Am J
Hum Biol. 2016;28:294. Abstract P43. DOI: doi:10.1002/ajhb.22831