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to ask about the REALITY of BF'ing Vs FF'ing

(178 Posts)
PatButchersEarring Wed 13-Feb-13 16:05:29

OK. Not looking to start a bun fight, nor am I looking for any moralising/judging etc.

Situation as follows: 1 DD (3.5) was ebf until she was around 6 months.

I'm now pregnant again. Yes, I'm aware that BF'ing is healthier all round yada, yada.

However, DD did not sleep through the night until she was 2.5. I was frequently up anything between 3 and 10 times per night. I was at breaking point, as was DP. I just cannot allow that to happen again for the sake of everyone's mental and physical health.

A lot of my friend's who also ebf have experienced the same. However, most people I know who FF have had good sleepers. Coincidence?

Also, it was me who took on the vast majority of night wakings with DD as it seemed to be just me who could settle her. Probably because of initial breastfeeding..whereas DP could obviously take over a couple of nights a week if bottle feeding.

There seems to be a complete lack of unbiased advice on this, for obvious reasons..

Can anyone give me the benefit of their experience?

organiccarrotcake Thu 14-Feb-13 10:09:01

There is research, and I'll say what it shows in a moment, but firstly I want to point out that research is across a community, and may or may not be applicable to you anyway! So with this in mind you can use the research to give you something to think about, then work out what is right for you. My additional thoughts in square brackets.

1) Formula fed babies seem to more often go longer between feeds than breastfed babies, which may mean they sleep longer [unless they react to formula in which case they may be kept awake].

2) FF babies are about twice as likely as BF babies to die from SIDS, possibly because if they sleep longer and more deeply their immature brains do not wake them from sleep if they stop breathing. [However, while "twice as likely" sounds very scary, bear in mind that the risk of SIDS is extremely small, and twice a very small number is still a very small number. You may consider that driving in a car is more likely to lead to your baby being killed but this isn't something that people worry about as they do SIDS].

3) Because FF babies may sleep longer, parents may get more hours of sleep. However, the sleepy hormones released while night time breastfeeding mean that across a community, breastfeeding mums get more QUALITY sleep than FF mums. [This one is very much a person to person issue and dependent on the baby in question]

4) In the early weeks, BFing at night can be seriously intense, exhausting, painful and tiring in a way that no one who has not had children can really understand, and it's all down to you. FF may be easier because it can be shared. However, if you can get through the first few weeks and especially if you consider safe bad sharing, BFing can be the easiest way to get through the night as there comes a point where a baby can attach himself, hardly waking the mum, or at least a boob can be waved in the general direction and the baby just latches and drops back to sleep. Mums can then just wake for a few moments then go back off again while her baby gets on with it. So longer term, that's soooo much easier than getting up with the baby, getting the formula, feeding the baby until he's asleep, putting him down etc.

References for above from

Separate to that are how an individual baby is, and how they react to their food. Some babies will react dreadfully to cow's milk formula, and then if breastmilk isn't available the only option is a prescription milk-free formula which will feed a baby but is to be avoided unless it's the only option. Other babies will (very rarely) be so intolerant of some food or another that their breastfeeding mum has to completely remove it from her diet and this may be more than she's able to do.

In the end, it depends on how important breastfeeding is to you and if it is important, to work through those first weeks and then reap the benefits. If it's not important and you'd rather formula feed, working our a strategy with a partner so that you can enjoy the fact that you are able to share night feeds would make sense, so that you're not ending up with the worst of all worlds and you can get some lovely, long sleeps!

I hope you find a solution that is right for you smile

stopgap Thu 14-Feb-13 03:16:56

I breastfeed my 18-month-old just once a day now, but he's been EBF since birth. As soon as his horrendous silent reflux eased up at seven months, he slept through the night. We co-slept for the first three months, but he's been in his own space since then.

He still clocks in 11.5-12 hours at night, and 60-90 minutes of napping during the day.

HopAndSkip Thu 14-Feb-13 03:00:56

Only managed to read the first page, but just wanted to mention the benefit of wacking a boob in and having an instantly calm baby!

Also I've only ever FF while looking after my niece, but I found getting up twice and sorting out bottles each time much more tiring than waving a boob in the general direction of baby while half asleep 5/6 times with (terrible sleeper but due to long stay in hospital not bf imo) BF co-sleeping DD.

Though obviously do what you feel happiest with. Maybe try breast feeding for a few weeks, then change over if you are finding it too tiring, or try expressing if you do decide to BF so DH can help with some feeds not a personal favourite, I'd rather be sleepy than be a dairy cow tbh!
Or just FF from day 1, but is there anyone FF family/close friend's DC wise who you could look after between now and then to have an experience of what FF involves? (Sure you could find it great, but maybe an idea to try it first, as I found it way too much fuss for my slightly lazy ways!!)

BumBiscuits Wed 13-Feb-13 23:50:21

I EBF both kids.

DD1 slept her first whole night at 4 weeks (8 hour sleep) and was sleeping 12 hours a night, without waking a month later. This increased to 14 hours by age 3 months. Her sleep patterns were regular. She had 2 long sleeps in the day as well as her mammoth sleep at night. I think she was unusual in the sheer amount of sleep she took. I think other than the people close to us who witnessed it, people simply don't believe me when I tell them about my wee sleep-monster. She didn't drop her afternoon nap until she was almost 4. Her afternoon nap was from 2-6pm and bedtime proper was at 7.30 on the dot. Didn't ever co sleep with DD1. Other than a couple of times when she was ill, she always slept through in her own cot. She fed at 9.30, on waking, napped from 10.30- 12.30, fed again at lunchtime, maybe twice, napped from 2-5, then fed in the evening on waking and again at 7pm. 7.30 went straight to sleep, was laid down awake, however. When she dropped her morning nap (can't remember exactly when, but before she was 11 months), she lengthened her afternoon nap to 4 hours.

DD2 slept her first whole night at 6 weeks and slept through til 5 months when she decided sleep wasn't really for her. She didn't regularly start sleeping through again until she started nursery at 19 months. We had to co sleep just to get some sleep. I'd wake up some nights and she'd already be latched on and having her feed...I was the one dreamfeeding, not her! She napped during the day but not in a set pattern like DD1.

TheBlackBagBorderBinLiner Wed 13-Feb-13 23:24:15

The bottom line is you need more support.
If you had a job that involved being on call for seven nights a week for months on end you'd schedule in extra day time help. In some golden yesteryear point your sister/mother/neighbor would be around to scope toddler and baby up and allow you to disengage your brain for a few hours.

BF is n't a one way thing, no one in four pages has noted the hormonal rush that let down produces. This is designed to trick your sleep deprived brain into not killing the thing that's just woken you up. Its a chemical cosh not to be under estimated.

MerryCouthyMows Wed 13-Feb-13 22:40:30

I didn't PLAN to cosleep with my first DC, but it just happened through sleep deprivation.

After that, I realised that it was so much fecking easier than FF, or bf with them in a cot, and I got more sleep, so I did it with the subsequent 3 DC's from day one.

zgaze Wed 13-Feb-13 22:36:37

Fully BF & co-slept with two - DS woke up every two hours for two years and still doesn't reliably sleep through now at 3.5, whereas DD was sleeping through before I had even been signed off by the midwives. Probably about two weeks old. She's now 13 months and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she has woken in the night, she's unbelievable.

Thank goodness I had the difficult child first, if it had been the other way round I wouldn't have known what had hit me, I'm not sure how well I would have coped!

Passmethecrisps Wed 13-Feb-13 22:31:11

Weird babies! I had a curtain puller as well. Someone popped in, raised the bar on the bed, pulled the curtain and left. I was vaguely aware of their presence and knew the room had changed.

With regard to any advice I just want to be treated like an adult with a brain and common sense.

My mantra has been this far and remains "come what may"

neunundneunzigluftballons Wed 13-Feb-13 22:31:04

My 2 cents I have both ff and bf. My ff daughters were dream sleepers my bf ds has not been much of a sleeper. However my eldest dd has had tummy pains all her life joyfully it turns out she is intolerant of cows milk so I feel a bit of a shit having given it to her almost all her life and dd2 has had multiple convulsions nothing to do with ff but she has been a damn sight sicker than my bf little man. In fact both dds had 4 antibiotics before 1 but ds has never been to a doctor except vaccinations. So while on the sleeping front they were better that was not the whole picture and to be honest with co sleeping which I swore I would never do I have rarely felt like I have missed out on sleeping

MerryCouthyMows Wed 13-Feb-13 22:28:40

Babies - those of us with babies AND older DC's were actually ADVISED to make up 24 hrs worth of formula and keep it in the fridge for our older DC's.

It was what I was advised with DD, DS1 & DS2. I then had a big gap between DS2 & DS3, and the advice had changed.

It was very hard to stop doing things the way I had for my previous 3 DC's. It was only the science behind it that meant that I bothered to follow the new guidelines with DS3.

Most of my friends in a similar position (I have 3/4 other friends who have both teenagers AND toddlers) have ignored the new advice as "their older DC's didn't die, did they?!"

I chose to follow science - but it's a far worse faff and PITA to FF now than it was 15 years ago when you made up a day's worth at once!!

passmethecrisps I insisted on co sleeping in hospital with ds & was all prepared for patronising comments, instead one midwife congratulated me on meeting his needs, but then she pulled the curtain. I was meeting my needs, he was a large baby ripped me a new one & I couldn't move.

I was however terrified with dd. I think reading up on it, funnily enough due to the same concern as the OP helped me to feel confident. I'm not massively evangelical about it, I was keen to get the little blighter in his own room/cot at 9 months.

Passmethecrisps Wed 13-Feb-13 22:19:44

Actually babies when we were readmitted due to DD's lacsidasical attitude to sucking I resorted to cuddling her in bed to try to get both of us some rest. It was noted in my records in quite a cat's bum tone.

I didn't actually know I was 'co-sleeping'. It was sheer instinct and survival I think.

Fast forward to this morning having had broken sleep due to snoring DH and DD snoring all I wanted to do was snuggle on the bed together. Couldn't make myself do it. Too scared.

Angelico Wed 13-Feb-13 22:19:36

And btw I don't co-sleep but DD is in cot beside my bed. It is easy to jump up and feed her but if I had been FFing would definitely have used the cartons for ON!!!

Angelico Wed 13-Feb-13 22:18:19

DD is 20 weeks and BF. Swaddling helped her to go longer through the night without a feed (the magic period was 12-15 weeks when she would go 11 or 12 hours through without needing a feed!!! But from about 6 -8 weeks she would do 5-8 hours). Then we hit sleep regression from 15-17 weeks. Having emerged the other side and no longer swaddling (she was escaping smile ) she normally feeds once ON.

BUT now she has started creche I can see the advantages of mixed feeding. I'm currently expressing bottles but it meant I had a few days of low milk when she was going hungry and waking twice / 3 times ON to feed. Hoping milk supply will increase to allow me to express a bottle a day for her, otherwise will keep BFing at home and introduce a bottle of Formula for creche.

MummytoKatie Wed 13-Feb-13 22:15:49

Haven't read all the thread so apologies if what I say has already been covered.

Dd was ebf. Slept well from the beginning with 8 hours more often than not from 12 weeks.

Until she started teething at 7 months. She was then pretty hellish for months. But I don't think I can blame the bf for that.

The big advantage of bf IMO is the sleepy hormones it produces in you. I'd feed dd, go back to bed, close eyes and fall back asleep. Once I stopped feeding her if she woke up I'd get her back to sleep then lie in bed wide awake forever which was worse than being up with her!

Passmethecrisps Wed 13-Feb-13 22:15:25

I think freya has it in a nutshell.

Beveridge Wed 13-Feb-13 22:12:44

Bf both DCs, both terrible sleepers (martyrs to their teeth, THAT'S the real dividing line if you ask me) but a boob is the original mute button. No contest for me when it's 2am and I have to Make The Noise Stop before my head caves in.

Especially when I don't have to get out of bed or stay awake to the end of the feed.

DiscoTent Wed 13-Feb-13 22:11:52

DS1 ebf slept brilliantly, to begin with we had to set an alarm for 3 hourly feeds (jaundice), once we stopped doing that he never woke more regularly than 4 hours and quickly did 6/7 hour stretches. Slept through from 14 weeks.

DS2 ebf and a terrible sleeper, better since 18 months but still not brilliant.

I don't think method of feeding has anything to do with sleep, DS1 slept through much, much earlier than lots of ff babies I know.

True co sleeping is frowned upon by many, and that is something that annoys me. I was too terrified to consider it with dd but read up on how to do it properly. If risk factors like smoking, alcohol & thick duvets are eliminated it is safe, if you're bf. not recommended if ff as the baby & therefore mum sleep too deeply.

It's the norm in Japan & discussed openly & their level of SIDS is low. A good friend of mine is Japanese & her dm is a HV, she can't believe the misconceptions in this country.

There is a statistic somewhere that a majority (something like 60/70%) of people resort to co sleeping in desperation at some point. I can well believe this. A good reason to have a grown up discussion about it.

CatsRule Wed 13-Feb-13 22:03:57

I only have one child so have nothing to compare but my bf baby fed all day long and hardly slept for at least the forst 3 momths. Then from about 3-6 months he slept from 11am-5am or 6am. That was like a long lie!

We then started solids at 6 months and he has never slept through since!

When he wakes I settle him with a bf because I bring him into is the only way I can survive the lack of sleep. I don't believe, at 11 months, he needs the feed as dh can also settle him without....he just likes cuddles. He also thinks 2am is party time!

I have a friend whose ebf baby slept from 7pm-7am from a few weeks and still is at nearly a year.

I'm not convinced, despite bf being easier to digest etc, that the method of feeding is the answer...just based on various friends/familys experiences.

If I'm fortunate enough to have another child I would like to beats sterlilising and is much cheaper! But, feeding methods really are a personal choice.

FreyaSnow Wed 13-Feb-13 22:03:30

The first six weeks involve a certain amount of horrifying sleep deprivation whatever you do, surely? With an older baby, they can latch on themselves without actually waking you up, so I didn't care that much if they did wake up.

I suppose it depends what you are used to and your personal preferences. I sometimes gave mine expressed milk and found the whole sterilising thing to be hugely time consuming, but maybe if you do it all the time you stop really noticing it. As for the being glued to the sofa because of breast feeding, the FF mums I've known spend just as much time glued to sofas because people generally like to spend a lot of time cuddling their babies, whether the baby has a nipple in its mouth or not.

I breast fed both of mine because I really enjoyed it. If somebody doesn't enjoy it, they shouldn't be made to feel they are obliged to do it.

Gomez Wed 13-Feb-13 22:00:36

See ebf all three and I really just can't fecking remember these details. Youngest is 6.5 and the rose tinted specs are on.

It will pass and you will cope, whatever choice you make.

I can remember however a couple of things - don't always feed them to sleep. If they have finished their last feed and still awake then into bed awake from a tiny. They learn to settle themselves, regardless of how you are feeding them. And think about how much they are having during the day and make sure you get as many feeds into the day/early evening as possible. With bf I found on busy days I maybe didn't feed so often or for so long when out and about. This meant more feeding of a night. Go with the tea time cluster feed as much as you can. Fill them right up for the night ahead.

Squiglettsmummy2bx Wed 13-Feb-13 21:59:39

DD FF woke for feeds until 2 & still wakes during the night now she is 10
DS FF I used to line up bottle in his cot as he would wake so often until 2.5-3
DS2 BF is 1 now & wakes approx every 2 hours.

Passmethecrisps Wed 13-Feb-13 21:59:12

Thank you cheeeeeeeeese

It would seem that cosleeping is a way of getting both sleep and BFing.

Definitely not being jaggy here but is cosleeping not also considered 'not on'? I know we discussed it and it was a total no go for us. I once had to rescue the cat from a duvet tomb between DH's legs

MerryCouthyMows Wed 13-Feb-13 21:57:31

DD, bf until 6mo, FF from then. She first slept through at 4yo.

DS1, bf until 4mo, FF from then. He first slept through at 4y11mo.

DS2, bf until 3mo, FF from then. He slept through from 7pm-7am from 7 weeks old, whilst still ebf. Always been a brilliant sleeper, and still is at 9yo.

DS3, bf for a year, on hypoallergenic formula from then onwards due to allergies. He's just turned 2yo. Still nowhere near sleeping through.

So, to me, there was NO difference between bf & FF, the only difference was that DS2 was a good sleeper and DD, DS1 & DS3 are crap sleepers.

Tbh, I found FF more of a PITA because they STILL didn't sleep through, but I had to wake right up, traipse down the stairs in the cold, make up a bottle, heat it up, listen to baby screaming while waiting for it, then they would take aaaaages to go back to sleep. And I would take even longer.

Bf? Co-sleep, roll over, half asleep, baby latches on, nodded off before feed even finished, far more sleep.

I HATE FF because I'm too lazy to be arsed with all the faffing when bf is quick, easy, and I don't have to leave my warm bed to do it, and I don't have to sterilise my tits!

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