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!

PenguinsHatchedAnEgg Thu 31-Jul-14 22:15:56

I see what you mean about you needing to do the feeds, but there are ways of helping you.

He can take charge of nappy changes, resettling, etc. Either at the weekend or more generally. He can also take charge of any early wakings. If he has had a good night's sleep and the baby is up at 5, there is really no reason he shouldn't be the one to get up.

He can take the baby in the mornings at weekends too. For example, if he is up for the day at 7am, there is really no reason you couldn't do that feed at the weekends, then hand him over to your DH for another 2-3 hours (depending how long before he will need feeding again, and whether you want to express).

Also, try not to wake up massively for each feed. I honestly think arranging yourself so it is safe to fall asleep just in case (assuming you don't have medical issues that make this impossible) and feeding in a dozy state is far less disruptive to your overall night and you will go back to sleep more easily once DS is back in his cot if you haven't woken fully.

blushingmare Thu 31-Jul-14 19:14:49

It depends how important exclusively bf is to you. If it's really important, then no, you don't get a break as such. It's really important to me - I feed baby lying down at night and often fall asleep whilst doing it, wake up with a sleeping baby next to me and move him back to his cot! I actually get a fair bit of sleep doing it like this.

You'll find it much easier to deal with if you just accept this is how it is and not feel resentful or keep searching for solutions on how to change it. In the general scheme of things this is a really short time and before you know it you'll be on to the next lovely challenge of parenting smile

Charingcrossbun Wed 30-Jul-14 21:22:45

Hi OP really feel for you!! I know what it's like! I invested in a mini fridge - the tiny ones that fit 2 beer cans in (£15 Argos) and put it in the baby's room. I kept one feed of expressed milk in it. That way if there was A bad night I knew I always had the option o f kicking DP out for one feed. I think it was mainly psychological but made me feel better! You do also get used to the lack of sleep! If I get 4hrs in a row now it's like winning the lottery!

Squtternutbaush Wed 30-Jul-14 21:14:09

Like you I felt that there was no point in both of us being up as DP works full time so on Friday/Saturday nights we'd switch sides in bed and he'd get up, bring her to me for a feed, change and put her back in bed. It was great as I didn't have to sit up smile

TarkaTheOtter Wed 30-Jul-14 21:13:08

This stage will go quickly. I second having one night at the weekend where dh brings baby to you so the only thing you have to do is feed. Your dh does all the resettling/nappies etc.
With dc2, DH would take them both downstairs after 5am so I knew I would get an extra 1-2hrs sleep in the morning before he went to work which helped. He was still sleeping 10-5am undisturbed so it didn't impact on his work at all.

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.

TeWiSavesTheDay Wed 30-Jul-14 21:06:36

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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!

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

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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 13:46:04

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.

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)

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