HV advising me to wean at 5 months dp putting me under pressure to do it sooner -I'm not sure(21 Posts)
DS is 5 calander months at Christmas and HV says I should start him on solisds then. She says its very rare she advises early weanig as she belives with most babies EBF should go the full 6 months. Certainly that was her advise with DD. Her reason is that she thinks its too much strain on me to continue feeding him exclusively and she's worried for my health. She sent me to see GP who agreed.
DS was born on the 50th centile and is now right the the top of the growth chart on 98th centile. At 17 weeks he was just under 20 pounds and wearing 6-9 month clothes.
It is true that I am completely exhausted as DS still feeds every 2-3 hours including at night and sometimes more often than that. Sometimes I feed him lying down then he just suckles constantly until he runs out and sreams to be moved to the other side. I never seem to get anything else done. I don't really know what to do
I fed dd exclusively until she was almost exactly 6 months and feel i should do the same for DS but not sure how much longer I can go on. He's a gorgeous healthy baby
Does anyone have any views?
I'd normally find that advice at bit strange as current guidelines for weaning is 6mo but you say your GP agrees? Is it purely due to exhaustion that this is being suggested? You do need to look after your own health as well. If you are worried maybe get a second opinion from another GP.
If you do decide to wean then please don't feel bad about it....you won't be too far off the 6 month mark.
Fwiw my DD was weaning at just less than 5mo and it was fine.
Before having DS I had a plan of exactly how things were going to go - I was going to EBF for 6 months, introduce a bottle of ebm at around 4/5 months and then switch to formula when weaning as I return to work in jan when he will be 7 months - ha ha ha - the plans we make - obviously he is my first!
Anyway he flat refuses a bottle - we have tried every which way and it's a no go. So we weaned him early at 5 months so that he wouldn't starve at the cm's. He has taken to it so well, has so many different flavours and gobbles it all up. He is the opposite to your DS, born on the 2nd centile and has remained there, at 6 months he weighs about 13 and a half pounds! But he is happy and healthy.
If I was having a year off I wouldn't have had to do this but actually he's much more settled and sleeps better in the day now. He still has plenty of BFs. We were lucky that he took to it straight away. I was going to try a bit once a week until he wanted it, but it was instant.
Not sure if this is going to help you but I don't regret it at all and as I said he is very happy an healthy and that's all that matters in the end. Your health is just as important and it sounds like your HV and GP have your whole families health in mind.
I was determined to get to 6 months with ds2 and was advised to wean earlier because he dropped centiles a bit. I stuck it out and at 5 months he grabbed a rice cake off me (for ds1) and devoured the whole thing himself.
I was exhausted bf my babies and was advised by the GP to stop earlier than I wanted to, but stuck it out because I didn't have to go back to work and could get an afternoon nap in almost every day. I did eat very badly though to keep my sugar levels up all afternoon, and ended up with a huge filling!
Do you have a feeling deep down about what you want to do right now? Can you stick it out the way you're feeling for another month or two? Even when I started weaning it took my babies a couple of months to be eating enough to start sleeping better and going longer between feeds, but I was lucky they fed every 3hrs for less than 15mins each time.
If I were you I wouldn't get caught up in the 6 month thing. When I was ebf my ds he fed every 2-3 hours round the clock and I was exhausted but I had this mad thing in my head that I had to get to 6 months like it was some kind of magic number. In the end I got a virus and ended up giving him formula and weaning him at 5 months and 3 weeks and for ages felt I had failed as I had cracked a week early. Now I look back and think how ridiculous it was.
Babies were weaned at 4 months until a few years before DS was born and I thought that they had said weaning to be done anytime between 4- 6 months now.
storm, it sounds as if your HV is giving you individualised advice and it is based on care and concern for you. There is no real evidence that babies who have solids at 5 mths are harmed (the evidence of harm is with ages earlier than this) and while there is no evidence of benefit to them, either, I don;t think anyone should think it is a 'big deal' to give solids at 5 mths.
The only downside is there is no evidence this will reduce the impact on you - certainly no reason to think that your baby will bf any less at night, though it could help in the day as he will have something else to interest him and nourish him, but it will not stop him waking at night.
Breastfeeding in itself does not exhaust mothers, and making milk does not exhaust them. But waking up and not getting back to sleep does.
There may be other aspects of your life that are making you tired and run down, so you could think about that. You might want to see if you have any underlying medical condition (thyroid; anaemia) that's making things worse.
Don't think of solids as a magic bullet, 'cos they aren't!
You don't have to give up breastfeeding just because you start him on solids - I assume you know that though. Feeding him solids will likely reduce his need to bf so much, which might therefore reduce the pressure on you and you'll be able to keep going longer if you want to.
I agree with TikTok - completely.
Make sure you are eating properly.
How long have you been finding it this hard? Has your baby always woken that often? I'm wondering if he could have a growth spurt going on - if it's that then things will prob get better in the next couple of weeks whatever you do.
It's probably not the size of the baby so much as the night wakings and the frequency of feeding that's making you feel tired. I feed 95th %ile speed crawling 9 month old, plus a couple of feeds for my 3 yr old, and I'm fine as long as she sleeps a decent stretch at night. (She's BLW so solids isn't a major help yet.)
Do you feel he's ready for weaning in other respects? Sitting up, lost tongue thrust reflex, reaching for food? I think even if you go the puree route it'd be a thankless task to wean a baby who's not ready.
An alternative would be to give a bottle of (gulp) formula or expressed milk to give you a rest, and a chance to replenish supply so he can tank in a full tummy quickly and the next feed is quick and easy too. Not sure if the latter conforms to standard advice, but that's the way it seems to work for us.
I really feel for you I think 4-5 months in I was at the end of my tether. Getting up every 2-3 hours to feed a baby through the night for 5 -6 months is enough to make anyone beyond exhausted. Personally my muscles ached so badly with sheer tiredness and it took me at least a couple of months to learn to sleep thoroughly again for more than 3 hours at a time. Sleep deprivation is torture whether or not it is breastfeeding that's keeping you up.
Giving a RL example of what tiktok has touched on - my DS feeds hourly during the day then two hourly throughout the night. I weaned at 6 months and solids have not made a difference at all. He takes in a huge amount of stuff like porridge which should be filling him up...nope. Still wants BFing constantly day and night, and will not entertain full feeds from a cup or bottle so there's still no let-up. I think you'd better have a back-up plan for getting rest rather than hoping solids are going to be the answer.
We weaned at 5 months as DD seemed ready (sitting, reaching, chewing etc etc). Plus it kept her busy so we could eat! Perhaps you could see how ready he seems when the time comes? (A lot can change in a few weeks, so maybe you'd feel better about it if he seems enthusiastic?)
If you are planning on BLW anyway, I can't really see the harm. If he's ready, he'll eat; if not, he won't.
I do agree with pps, though: solids are not a magic cure-all (although DD does now STTN - yay!) and the priority should be to look after yourself. Eat well, sleep as much as possible, fresh air, exercise, all that good stuff.
Oh and well done - you're doing a great job, OP
Seems a bit strange - after all, if you are exhausted its probably because you are up all night feeding, rather than feeding in itself surely? If you introduce solids or even switch to formula he will still wake up, so you will wake up, and so be tired.
From personal experience, I didn't find that introducing solids changed sleep habits at all. Nor did bottles of EBF, porridge before bed and anything else my HV (or other 'helpful' people) suggested. Once I was eventually getting more sleep i felt a lot better. Is there anyone who can help out with the nights?
Is there a reason you still see your hv? My ds is 6 months and I didn't see my hv after he reached 6 weeks as with my dd I found them too intrusive.
If you are happy to continue as you are it is really up to you... however I weaned both dd and ds at 5 months as they were both huge babies in 9-12 month clothes by then and milk didn't satisfy them anymore even every 2 hours!
You have to do what you think is best.
Just a thought, but weaning CAN help reduce milk demands (have seen that with friends), and it's something we do with other mammals when the baby is taking too much out of them. It's common with horses where the foal is large and quickly growing, and despite all extra feed/supplements etc the mother is losing too much weight and not thriving. Feeding a very demanding baby does take a lot out of you physically. That's not true for the average mother/baby feeding relationship of any mammal, but you and your baby obviously aren't average, and you need to be healthy and there for your other child also.
Introducing solids really won't make any difference. The nutritional value compared to milk is incredibly low.
I introduced solids early on the advice of the HV (I now know better) and it achieved nothing, other than to make me more tired because I had to faff around preparing food.
If you are really tired, have you had blood tests to check for things like anemia? Its so easy to neglect looking after yourself when you are looking after little ones.
The nutritional value of solids is low, but it is harder to digest so their tummies might be full longer. So weaning probably doesn't help the hungry baby but may help the mum in some cases.
Is it worth mentioning here that although my HV talked about not weaning till 6 months, she used this and 'beginning around 24 weeks' interchangibly (though I'm certain half of 52 is 26 myself)?
If the recommendation is 24 weeks rather than 26, maybe you won't feel you are quite so far off at 5 calender months? (either in terms of not feeling guilty about introducing solids, or about waiting till 24 weeks to do so? whichever you decide)
I agree with regards mothers health and sleep problems are not necessarily about baby being ebf. Would be a bit of a pain to follow their advice if you didn't want to, only to find it didn't help and there was another cause. You need to do what seems best for you, and for you to get the information you need to make that decision, you maybe need to rule out other health issues for yourself (anemia, hypothyroidism etc) and other ways of getting more rest (safe cosleeping/naps in the day/someone else settling baby at night without food or with ebm).
Christmas is a good few weeks away, you could find things get better on their own by then.
another vote for what Tiktok said. I just don't see how solids will help - solid food is less calorific than breastmilk and just adds yet another thing to your to do list? It's looking after a baby all day and night that's exhausting, not BF - at least when you're BF you can sit or lie down.
I too have a gigantic 4 mo baby who feeds round the clock, and have found these to be helpful ...
- eating proper meals, not sugary crap that gives me a quick energy boost followed by a crash of exhaustion
- co sleeping and going to bed with the baby at 8pm. 12 hours of broken sleep is better than 8!
Others have said already, but 6 months shouldn't be looked at as a magic mark for weaning. Current advice is 4-6 months, based on signs of readiness (sitting unaided in chair, interest in food, etc). If you feel your DC shows the signs and is 5 months then go for it - no failure! It's following the recommendations.
I also agree with others who say its not nessecarily going to help with sleep. If I were in your position and finding myself exhausted, I'd get to the doctors first for a check on iron levels, then make sure I was eating a good diet (you know how you can feel sometimes if you are just eating crap, it doesn't make you feel energised). Once healthy meals were sorted - subsidising with some cake I'd start to include a formula feed during the day and see if you feel more rested. That's for you rather than DC.
Also controversial, but if your DC is unsettled and constantly suckling, I'd use a dummy. Many will disagree with me on this though, I know.
Current official advice in the UK is around 6 months/26 weeks. This is in line with WHO advice. Some other countries have changed it 4-6 months I think.
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