How can an exclusively breastfeeding mum get a break?

(30 Posts)
mamushka Wed 30-Jul-14 12:26:46

Sorry this is a long post.

I wouldn't say I've got a very high-needs baby, 8 week old DS does sleep in his own crib most of the night, normally does 3-5 hours in the first stretch and maybe another 2 after that, sometimes I'll top our sleep up by letting him co-sleep for a couple more hours in the morning.

However, he does have the odd "bad night" where I am left resenting DH and fantasising about a really good night's sleep (hotel room, lovely soft clean sheets, silence, a lie-in, etc...)

The trouble is how can I have a break or a night off when I'm exclusively breastfeeding? DH hasn't lifted a finger at night since DS was born, we both agreed it makes sense for me to handle all the night-wakings as I'd have to wake up to feed baby anyway - no point in having two sleep-deprived people especially as DH works full time and I can theoretically have naps in the day (ha - as if!).

I do find myself occasionally feeling that it's unfair that I can't have even one good night's sleep while DH sleeps well every night. I know I signed up to this when having a baby though.

So is there any way I could get a break? I am not really sure it would be practical to express a whole night's worth of milk!

I'm not at the point of desperation, just thought it can't hurt to put the question out there!

HeyMicky Wed 30-Jul-14 12:32:13

I expressed and DH did the first feed with EMB in a bottle, as long as it was before midnight. I went to bed at the same time as DD, so often slept 7pm-2am which made a world of difference

RufusTheReindeer Wed 30-Jul-14 12:32:57

I'm only going to say express, it is the only way I can think of

I did make DH get up and bring the baby over to me and take him back though!!! So he was just as sleep deprived as me grin

TheTerribleBaroness Wed 30-Jul-14 12:37:45

You couldn't express a whole night's worth of milk, you'd probably wake up having leaked all over the bed, and you risk messing up your supply as well. Sorry. Not want you want to hear, but I don't think you can get a full nights sleep and exclusively BF.
How old is your DC? It will get easier. You'll get used to it and they do start sleeping eventually.

TheTerribleBaroness Wed 30-Jul-14 12:38:57

DH got up sometimes with me too. The company helped and he brought me a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Hedgehogging Wed 30-Jul-14 13:39:52

I'd say express one feed for DH to give and go to bed at the same time as your LO as a pp suggested.

It's not the same as blissful hotel bed scenario (we can but dream) but I find even just a few solid hours in a row makes me feel renewed and ready to get on the treadmill again.

It is such a slog though. But it gets easier (Apparently... So I'm told.. hmm)

ElephantsNeverForgive Wed 30-Jul-14 13:46:04

You don't and it doesn't matter. You learn to co sleep so you get some sleep too.

You learn to relax watching TV with subtitles while the baby feeds.

Before you know wher you are you have a 7-8 month old baby who'll eat yoghurt and drink a cup of juice and let you go out for the night.

It only feels like forever now.

rootypig Wed 30-Jul-14 13:46:52

DH hasn't lifted a finger at night since DS was born, we both agreed it makes sense for me to handle all the night-wakings as I'd have to wake up to feed baby anyway - no point in having two sleep-deprived people especially as DH works full time and I can theoretically have naps in the day

This was the reasoning that we used and in retrospect it was a mistake. It is so, SO important that someone cares for you at a time when your whole being is dedicated to caring for someone else.

DH needs to get up in the night with you, bring you a cup of tea or a glass of water and an extra pillow, rub your shoulders, whatever you need. No need to stay up for the whole feed every time, but these gestures are important - not only so that you are cared for, but so that he has some understanding of what nights are like for you.

And the more involved he is, the more he will do. If he is changing LO he will notice if you're low on nappies. If he's bringing you biscuits, he'll learn what your favourites are and where to get them. If he's sitting with you some of the time, he'll know what it's like to feed DS, and he will be PART of the experience, as he should be.

Don't fall prey to the idea that you should be protecting him from the reality of a baby because he is working. From 6mo DD was on a bottle and DH did half the night feeds. He was absolutely fine - in fact, he learned to be much more on it that when he was sleeping all night and going about not thinking about what DD or I needed. Our marriage, however, was badly damaged.

ElephantsNeverForgive Wed 30-Jul-14 13:48:02

DD2 didn't do bottles or formula and I've never expressed more than 5ml, so I've no idea if she'd drink expressed milk. I doubt it since she flew into a rage if she saw a bottle in the same room.

ElephantsNeverForgive Wed 30-Jul-14 13:50:10

As for DH he can do all meals when he's not at work grin weaning is way more vile than BFing or changing nappies, I hate feeding babies or watching babies waste good food feeding themselves.

museumum Wed 30-Jul-14 13:52:30

I went to bed at 8 straight after ds and dh delt with any wakings before midnight. It was only a four hour block but it was essential to my wellbeing that I had that block when I didn't have half an ear wondering if I was going to have to get up again.. it sort of depends on your lo's sleeping pattern but if you've got a half decent first block of sleep this might work for you. dh was able to get him back to sleep 4 times out of 5 and only came and woke me if it seemed he really was hungry.. it was the start also of my ds learning to be settled by cuddles rather than always boob.. we still bf now (11months) but ds does not NEED to boob to sleep which is great.

Also, at weekends I would feed when ds woke up in the morning, then dh would dress him and take him out for a couple of hours while I went back to sleep in a blissfully empty silent house.

There are ways... if your dh is up for it and realises he needs to 'make up' for the fact that he's getting out of nighttime duties.

meringue33 Wed 30-Jul-14 13:57:57

I second the idea of your DH giving the "dream feed" of EBM at 10pm. You go to sleep after baby around 8pm and with any luck it will be 2/3am before you're wakened again.

This is what we did (tho we ended up giving formula as I never managed to express).

Also, learn to bf lying down and co-sleep. And get DH more involved. If baby has pooed after a feed in the night, hand him to DH to change and resettle and meanwhile you go straight back to bed. Every little extra shut eye helps!

Can DH take baby in the morning for a little before work? After morning feed my DP used to take baby and put him in the bouncy chair in the bathroom while he showered and shaved, I'd go back to sleep for a while.

Working is definitely less tiring on little sleep than being a SAHP, I realised that when I went back!

ChilliMum Wed 30-Jul-14 14:11:59

Hi I can't really add anything I ebf and did all night feeds, a few weeks in I cracked exhaustion tears irrational yelling at dp. When he asked what he could do I didn't know I just didn't want to be always doing it all by myself. After that he got up every night and brought me a cup of tea and biscuit and glass of water. It took him 5 minutes but it made all the difference to me.

At about 3 months we started co sleeping and life got a lot better really quickly.

All that said I think the most important thing is to know this is in the grand scheme of things just a small part and will pass far too quickly.

Iggly Wed 30-Jul-14 15:06:13

I waited until the DCs were older. DH did most of the house stuff.

reikizen Wed 30-Jul-14 15:14:09

I think it is very important for your other half to be woken in the night sometimes. I second the idea of him bringing you a cuppa and a biscuit, or he can change the nappy or whatever. Without meaning to be rude you have agreed to an unworkable scenario where you will only get more and more tired and resentful. You are both parenting this child, bfing is the only thing he can't do but it is an investment in the future of your child. Tbh I am even wondering what kind of a man would put you through that!! Makes me appreciate dh more!

May09Bump Wed 30-Jul-14 15:14:27

Couldn't agree more with Rootypig, same experience here.

tintinenamerique Wed 30-Jul-14 15:29:51

We follow your line of thinking in our house - no point in us both being knackered so OH is in the spare room. I realise this wouldn't work for lots of couples, but it works for us. However...we have had a few nights where DH has has the baby with him in the spare room, brought to me for a feed and taken away for DH to settle him. Means I have just had to be awake for the feed and nothing else. This combined with an expressed bottle at 10 or 11 can provide a pretty good night's sleep.

mamushka Wed 30-Jul-14 20:40:34

Thanks for your responses... I have had a little chat with DH smile

rootypig Wed 30-Jul-14 20:50:48

Good. I hope that he takes note. He wouldn't (presumably) leave you to struggle alone with anything else so stressful and exhausting - so why motherhood? by definition you are exhausted - physically depleted and can't catch a break. He needs to wake his good self up and offer foot rubs. You may tell him that I said so grin

beccajoh Wed 30-Jul-14 20:52:03

I used to feed DD at 9pm then go to bed. DH would sleep in the spare room with her in the pushchair carrycot and give her a bottle of expressed milk whenever she next woke up. She'd then go back in the carrycot until she woke again, at which point DH would bring her through to me for a feed and then she'd go in the Moses basket next to me. This usually got me an uninterrupted stretch of sleep from 9.30pm to 4am, which did make a difference. We did this one night a week, and on top of the epic weekend naps I had, kept me vaguely sane.

But no, didn't get a full night until I stopped bf at 7 months.

Jonkastique Wed 30-Jul-14 20:57:04

We adopted a regime where I do all nightime stuff, and it has worked for us. He drives a lot so I worry if he doesn't get sleep. He used to be really precious about sleep but no longer!

A contributing factor is that my lo is only this week, at almost 6 months, taking milk from a bottle.

Freedom beckons! I am planning a night with some girlfriends SOON, and will end up on the floor after two glasses of wine, lol

DefiniteMaybe Wed 30-Jul-14 20:59:43

I think you just get used to the lack of sleep. Dd was still waking for feeds at night until I cracked and gave up bf when she was 27 months.
I think it helped with her being my second child, I learned to love snuggling her when it was all dark and cosy and felt like it was only the two of us awake in the whole world.
It passes faster than you realise and sometimes I really miss having squidgy baby/toddler cuddles through the night.

rootypig Wed 30-Jul-14 21:02:43

27 months Definite! shock! It's great that you found a way for it to work for you but I coped well with broken sleep at the beginning and edger closer and closer to insanity as time went by. By 10 months I was all the way there. I feel like I've been sensitised to it, iyswim, now I can't bear to be woken at all by the sound of crying, it's so stressful sad. God knows how this will work if I ever have DC2.

I read on here that if you stay in bed you sleep much better which is so true!

In our house the situation is, baby cries - dh gets her and brings her to me, I feed her lying down in bed while dh has a catnap. When baby goes back to sleep I poke DH and he puts DD back in bed.

I have 3 dc so done the bf night feeds for a long time and it really, really helps so much. DH hardly even notices that he is getting up! It's a good routine.

nemno Wed 30-Jul-14 21:08:22

My DH often brought me the baby, lying on my side I could feed and doze and between sides DH would do the nappy and afterwards put him back. My sleep was hardly interrupted.

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