Newborn co-sleeping/breast-feeding questions

(8 Posts)
haggis81 Mon 04-Jan-16 18:49:15

I have a gorgeous three-and-a-half week old baby boy. For the last week or so I have been co-sleeping with him in the spare room as the only other solution for a few hours sleep was DH taking him on long walks in the sling or drives, and with him heading back to work in a few days we felt we had to end these late night outings before they became a habit.

So we are now co-sleeping with him cuddled up beside me and feeding to sleep. He continues to suck at the boob for at least 45-60 mins after each waking. This is pretty uncomfortable for me because I'm small-breasted and so boob feels horribly pulled about! I'm also not convinced he's actually getting any milk this way as the latch position is completely opposite to what I've been taught is ideal when sitting up, and when he's actually hungry he seems quite frustrated with it and cries, so I sit up to feed him properly.

I know he's very very small and I have no desire to try to force a routine on him at this point. Like this he sleeps quite well and I have been getting reasonable amounts of (albeit light) sleep. However I would like to get back to sleeping in my own bed with my DH, and I'd like to be able to put him in the so-far unused snuzpod cosleeper crib, rather than right next to me.

So I imagine I first have to get to the point that he's not wanting suck at the boob continuously, and then get him used to being near me but not that near if that makes sense?

Does anyone have any tips on how to do this, and crucially when to start? A lot of the advice seems aimed at older babies. I'm happy to wait, but want to make sure I'm being proactive so that I'm not creating a much bigger problem for ourselves further down the line.

As context he's gaining weight well and has lots of wet/dry nappies but I still have niggling worries about my supply and we top him up with a small amount (30-50ml) of formula at about 10:30pm as a hangover from regular formula top-ups we were told to do when he lost too much weight in his first week or so. Apart from this he is breast-fed.

Also as context, we have previously tried to put him down in a sleepyhead placed on the bed next to me (warmed with a hot water bottle and with one of my t-shirts in it), and rocking him to sleep in his pram - neither work because I can't bear to let him cry very long. He only naps on me during the day unless DH takes him for a walk in the sling in which case he will continue to sleep in his moses basket if put down whilst in a deep sleep.

Many many thanks for any insights or advice!

Artandco Mon 04-Jan-16 18:55:35

I would start by stopping him feeding after 30 mins at night. So once he has fed, carefully put your finger between his mouth and breast to break seal.

Also try again with sleepyhead as the sleepyhead you can use between you and Dh if you put up high in the bed again headboard. That way when baby isn't feeding you and Dh can take turns soothing him in sleepyhead. If he's fed and winded and clean nappy I would let him cry a little. He can be in sleepyhead with your or Dh lying next to him patting him gently and soothing with gentle taking. So he isn't being left alone, but it's fine if he doesn't settle immediately. A few days of this should get him used to sleeping in the sleepyhead. This is easier for you as then he is more portable and Dh can help more

FATEdestiny Mon 04-Jan-16 19:07:34

If you have a baby who likes to suck to sleep, have you considered a dummy? This allows for sleeping independent of you so with a longer-term view will be helpful for sleeping independently.

If you have any middle-class tendencies to wrinkle your nose at the suggestion of a dummy, consider that (a) Dummies are recommended to reduce SIDS risk. (b) Sucking is a baby's natural way to self-sooth, you are just allowing for this.

Now this snuzpod, I know they cost a lot. Can you get yourself into it though? I don't know why co-sleeper cribs have recently become fashionable when co-sleeper full sized cots have been used for years and are far more useful and practical.

With one side removed off a full sized cot (easily done with an allen key) you can butt the cot up to your bed and create a co-sleeper (even better if its a cotbed because they are bigger). This gives you lots of space to settle baby in the cot, with you snuggling right into the cot. I would even breastfeed in the cot while baby was very tiny. Then extract yourself while leaving baby there when done (while simultaneously whipping nipple out and dummy in). In those early moths I would often sleep half on my side of the bed and half in the cot with baby.

The full sized co-sleeper cot makes feeding, settling and dummy reinsertions very easy. None of thus DH in the spareroom lark, just have cot next to your side of the parental bed.

Regarding your feeding, most sleep issues at this age ultimately come down to hunger. It might be worth seeing a BF councillor for suggestions, or just accepting that there's nothing wrong with formula milk and giving more.

haggis81 Mon 04-Jan-16 19:45:38

Wow - thanks so much both for the fast suggestions, these are great.

Artandco - assume you are suggesting trying both of these from now, which makes sense. I hadn't really thought about letting him cry in the sleepyhead to get him more used to it, even if he doesn't settle in it within the first few nights. Will give this a go as agree having it between me and DH to share the settling would be ideal.

FATEdestiny - sleepyhead and snuzpod both great bargains on gumtree smile Take your point re size of snuzpod though. Partly it's because our bedroom is not huge but we could assemble cot bed and see if it fits, or I could try a version of this with the snuzpod, just getting as close to it as possible.

Thought I would have middle class dummy hang-ups but don't think I do now, sleep deprivation does that to a person! I was going to try to hold out until he was 4-5 weeks though especially given initial challenges I had with breastfeeding, as don't want to jeopardise the progress we've made. Would you recommend any brand in particular?

Have been going to breastfeeding cafes which have been helpful, they have been advocating phasing out the formula. However think they see DS and me doing a good latch because it is a time of day when he is sleepy and compliant, and they have lovely nursing chairs etc which I don't have at home! Hence why we are sticking with formula for now. Also trying to express in morning to feed in evening, but finding it difficult to do every day and not getting very much.

Thanks so much again.

FATEdestiny Mon 04-Jan-16 20:13:53

Most Mumsnet new Mums have middle-class dummy hang-ups, so you are not alone there. Most get over themselves though or face controlled crying nightmares months down the line when baby continues to refuse to stop feeding to sleep

If you've had BF issues, I can completely understand you wanting to sort that first. Seems very sensible. I have BF and used a dummy from birth in all my children apart from my first (when I had aforementioned middle-class dummy hangups, so she started with hers later).

If you can lean into the snozpod, that might help. I genuinely recommend a full sized cot version though. I'd go so far as saying if you don't have room in your bedroom, take out your chest of drawers and store that in the nursery for the time being, to create space in your bedroom.

I know you haven't asked about daytime sleep - but good sleep promotes better sleep and sometimes resolving daytime sleep issues helps with night time sleep too. As a newborn baby should be basically sleeping all of the time. Maybe 30-45 minutes awake which will almost all be take up by feeding and nappy check, then getting baby back to sleep. Over tiredness can create some significant sleep issues. I'd highly recommend a bouncy chair for daytime naps. Although at 3-4weeks old getting baby to sleep should still be easy so you may be able to use a crib instead. It gets more difficult to get baby to sleep once they are more aware though - which is when bouncy chair comes into its own.

haggis81 Mon 04-Jan-16 21:53:01

Hmmm, we've been muddling through on the daytime naps to be honest. His dad takes him for long walks and errands in the sling and so he sleeps then, and can be transferred to his moses basket when he gets back if we're lucky and the timing is right.

But mostly he naps by dozing off during a feed and then sleeping on me, and is easily woken by attempts to put him down in his basket so mainly I don't try because I want him to sleep. We do very little 'settling' at this stage - apart from nappy changes all crying seems to be solved by feeding, and the message I've been mainly hearing here and elsewhere is 'if in doubt, breastfeed'.

Instead should I be actively ending a feed, putting him down in his moses basket to nap and then attempting to settle him when he inevitably cries?

Have been assuming he's a bit too little for the bouncer but will give it a go in the next few days. And will definitely be trying a dummy in a week or two assuming the b-feeding continues okay.

Thanks so much again for the help, it is really appreciated!

Artandco Mon 04-Jan-16 22:03:53

Yes, I mean don't leave him to scream in sleepyhead, but if he's in it with say your Dh laying next to him gently patting/ shying him he's hardly being abandoned alone to cry. One of you is there. And you can see if he calms down in a few minutes. Obviously dot his when you know he's clean and fed first.

Also it seems odd but I would try and not let him fall asleep during feed as he then learns feed = sleep. If he begins to fall asleep I would sit him up a bit and wake a bit by burping etc and then settle him to sleep. So he learns to sleep without boob in mouth, but just near you instead.

FATEdestiny Mon 04-Jan-16 22:21:50

Yep. If in doubt, breastfeed. It will get your supply up.

A newborn baby's basic biological needs are feeding and sleeping - so bear in mind that both are just as important.

Muddling through is fine, it's what we all do. A tiny baby like yours really doesn't need much stressing about, just feed and sleep, feed and sleep, feed and sleep. You are also right that there should be no great need to 'settle' baby to sleep this young. A full tummy will do that naturally in the newborn phase.

Actively 'ending' a feed will ultimately help in terms of sleep long term (its the beginning of a technique called the Pantley Pulloff for older babies).

As will 'putting baby down to sleep' if she will let you IMO. That definitely would not mean letting a newborn baby cry though. If she wont let you put her down you can try things to help - swaddling makes transferring baby easier, or the dummy. Sometimes Mummy's pillow case in the cot helps, or warming the mattress.

If she continues to cry, you'll have to just accept holding her to sleep until you find something that works to put her down. Or you could go the sling route.

Some parents prefer a good baby carrier and sling for baby to nap in and so they have all their daytime naps in that. That's fine if it is what you want to, lots do. I have just never been a sling kind of parent so you'll inevitably get a different kind of advice from me. I am sure the Baby Wearers will be able to help if you would like more suggestions on this way of getting baby to sleep.

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