Considering giving up breastfeeding due to sleep issues - need honest input

(184 Posts)
tinierclanger Fri 06-Sep-13 09:27:25

DD is 4 months old now and has never really slept well. Until a few weeks ago she occasionally slept 4 hours at the beginning of the night, but now the best she does is 3. She will then wake every 1 or 2 hours and want feeding back to sleep. We spend some of the night cosleeping but not all.

I have no problems feeding her, she is fed entirely on demand in the day and feeds about every 2 hours, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. I don't want to stop but I am so drawn to the prospect of getting more sleep - some days I cope ok but others I am shattered and a horrible person to be around, affecting my relationship with DH and DS hmm

My fear though is that if I start FF she will wake just as often and then I will have bottles to deal with. In all honesty is this likely or is she more likely to sleep in proper stretches, rather than waking to nibble on me? Obviously the main incentive is that I could get DH to do one night a week and I could just sleep...

mrsmartin1984 Fri 06-Sep-13 09:49:14

Have you tried co sleeping?

FF babies don't sleep better

Hang in there. My ebf twins slept very badly at around four months. Now at 7 months, with no other changes, they are waking only twice in the night for a v quick feed and sleeping pretty solidly 7-6. DTD did have a phase of waking every 1.5 hrs for weeks! Solids didn't help, I don't think formula would have helped. I think it was just time that was needed.

I worked on helping them settle without feeding - very very gently. So patting in cot to see if they will resettle. Rocking/cuddling etc. but if it didnt work quickly then I just fed them. Now they stir/wake but can get themselves back to sleep.

I would say that four months is a particularly rough time for bf babies. At nearly-four-months DS2 would sleep for eight- to ten-hour stretch at night. Then he hit 4m with the developmental leaps, and it went to 90mins sad angry He didn't sleep through again for eighteen months.

Co-sleeping was the only thing that kept me sane during that time. Yes, I was woken frequently but I didn't have to stay awake, and I got a mega dose of oxytocin (?) to send me off again.

FF is only a magic bullet if it means someone else takes responsibility for the night wakings. If you still had as many wakings and had to do bottles (in which case cartons at room temperature are the way forward) but some nights it was DH's job and you were in the spare room with ear plugs and a mask...

tinierclanger Fri 06-Sep-13 10:05:29

Free, thanks, that's encouraging. Most times she wakes I do try and cuddle her before feeding but if she persists (and she always does) I feed. She won't self settle at the beginning of the night and usually feeds off to sleep.

I am co sleeping most of the night - sometimes she goes back into the sidecar crib but a lot of the night she is in with me. It means I can't sleep in a comfortable position for me though.

I think she really wants to sleep on her side and would probably sleep more soundly but I don't feel safe to leave her that way hmm

tinierclanger Fri 06-Sep-13 10:07:19

If I FF though I could get at least one night a week sleeping better but is it worth it? I don't know. I'm too tired to make balanced decisions.

tinierclanger Fri 06-Sep-13 10:10:53

Horry, I don't even have the positive outlook that she slept well before this age! If I did I might be more hopeful.

Bambamb Fri 06-Sep-13 10:13:24

Could your DP try cuddling her back to sleep instead of you once in the night? I was never able to settle DS back to sleep without feeding him because he knew I had milk. So DP took one waking a night and had great success. Only do this if you're confident they don't actually need a feed of course, but it worked really well for us.
Once over 6 months he would sometimes offer water in the night rather than me feeding and by 10 months he was sleeping right through.
And DS in the early days was an AWFUL sleeper!

Bambamb Fri 06-Sep-13 10:16:30

Oh and from a friend who switched to FF for sleep reasons- she says it didn't help her DS sleep at all. Think that can be a bit of a myth to be honest, depends on the baby. I totally feel your pain though, sleep deprivation is torture, but in the long run I believe BF is easier.

tinierclanger Fri 06-Sep-13 10:31:18

Bambamb, we will try that but I don't think it will work until she has moved out of our room. At the moment she won't even take a bottle of EBM if I'm in the same room!

CrackersandCheese Fri 06-Sep-13 10:32:55

4 month sleep regression? Very common wink
Hang in there

tinierclanger Fri 06-Sep-13 10:38:00

Yes, but it ISN'T a regression as she has never slept well.

Samsean Fri 06-Sep-13 10:41:35

How is your LO during the day?

How long does she feed for, and how many times in 24 hours?

tinierclanger Fri 06-Sep-13 10:51:08

She's happy in the day in general. She won't nap except in baby carrier, arms or sometimes in pram after a bit of protest. Sometimes I can transfer her to basket and she will carry on sleeping. Sometimes not.

She is chewing everything and dribbling. (Actually she's a bit grumpy today!). She's just started rolling.

Feeds probably around 6-8 times in the day, sometimes just for a minute or 2, other times 5-10 mins. But I have a very fast let down and I'm confident she's feeding well.

peggyundercrackers Fri 06-Sep-13 10:53:16

i gave up bf my dd about that age, she went from being hungry and crying all the time to being happy and she started to sleep better. i havent regretted giving up bfing one bit. once she started sleeping a bit better we woke her at 23:00 for her last feed and she then slept through to 7-7:30 in the morning - made a massive difference for us.

I also think you need to do what is right for you, dont let anyone force you into feeling if you give up BFing its the wrong thing to do and your a failure - you will definitely not be a failure nor will baby be any worse off for it.

Bambamb Fri 06-Sep-13 11:07:18

Hmm yes you're right about being in the same room. We moved DS out at 5.5 months for this very reason and that's when DH started going to him in the night instead of me. It really was the beginning of things getting better for us. The first few months were really really tough but I just wanted to breastfeed so badly I didn't want to mess it up by giving formula.

I agree with the above that if you really want to give formula then just do so, you could probably mix feed pretty successfully now your supply is reliable. I'd just caution against hoping for it to be a magic fix as it may not be and you may then regret it. I suppose it depends on how long you were planning to BF for in the first place? I wanted to do it long term (ended up just over 2 years) but I reckon most of the benefits health wise are concentrated in the first few months which you have already more than achieved. X

Okay. So, being logical about this, the maximum amount of time she is feeding is 8 times 10 minutes, which is 1 hour and 20 minutes.

That gives you 22 hours and 40 minutes of sleep if you want it.

It is sleep regression if she's gone from 3-4h to 1-2h.

I think if you're only going to get one night off a week then the additional hassle of ff wouldn't be outweighed by the benefits of that night off.

What you need is protected sleep at other times - DH could take her out for a couple of hours on a Saturday so you can get a guaranteed lump of sleep, for example.

tinierclanger Fri 06-Sep-13 11:44:03

I don't really want to stop. I fed DS a long time and I want to do the same again. I will steel myself to carry on a week at a time I think. I think I may try asking DH to get up with both of them and a bottle of EBM on Saturday and have a lie in.

I think it's a bit disingenuous to say I could be sleeping for 22 hours. Disturbed sleep isn't the same as blocks of proper sleep and some of the time she is on me, and I have LIFE to get on with as well with DS.

Maybe it's just been a really bad couple of nights getting me down. I'll carry on for now!

If you cosleep you can feed without being woken some of the time, or at least not waking properly.

What in your LIFE is more important than sleep?

Perhaps lots of things. I am no judge. But me, I'd be sleeping.

stowsettler Fri 06-Sep-13 12:05:38

Interesting. So, Starlight, I think you're implying that 4-month old babies only feed and sleep.

I wish someone had told DD.

OP, I am no bf expert as I lasted a grand total of 4 weeks thanks to multiple problems. However if sleep had been the only problem I wouldn't have stopped - that said, DD has always been a good sleeper so I don't think I've experienced your pain. My (not very original) suggestions would be to try and express enough for your DP to give at least one feed as you suggest, so you can get a lie-in. Or, would you consider mixed feeding?

I'm not implying that. I am assuming that there is another adult in the home in the evenings and during the night however. When he/she gets in, go to bed then, and have the baby brought to you just for feeds and then taken away again afterwards. between 6 pm and 8pm there are 10 hours. Somewhere in amongst all that you'll be able to get a good 8 hours if not more, certainly not much less.

tinierclanger Fri 06-Sep-13 12:11:48

In LIFE - awake time with baby, which is hours between sleeping and feeding. Eating for myself, cooking food for DS, taking him to and from school, playing with him. Even if I opt out of anything remotely optional there's still all that.

With all due respect on cosleeping, I have said several times on this thread I AM cosleeping some of the time. It's a bit better than it would otherwise be but it is not a magic bullet for rest for me. Maybe it is for some people?

sherbetpips Fri 06-Sep-13 12:16:24

it would be a shame to give up but as you are feeding on demand is baby still taking as much milk or are you being used for comfort? If so you could consider the evil dummy (I personnally found it a god send) at times when baby just wants comfort rather than food.

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