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17 week old sleep issues - mum on verge of 19th nervous breakdown!

(13 Posts)
kaiki Thu 19-Aug-10 09:32:39

Hi folks,
I'm having a terrible time with my 17 week old baby girl - since 12 weeks she has started waking up at night every 2 hours from midnight until 6/7 when she is awake for the day. She is exclusively breast fed - on demand - but only tends to feed for a moment or two in the night before falling back to sleep again (for just two more bloody hours. grrrr). This pattern has led to me thinking that she is having problems settling herself back to sleep as she wakes up crying (daytime naps too) and needs a brief feed before settling back down.
Recently she has begun to wake earlier (five thirty in the morning)and her sleep window between awakenings is narrowing (sometimes as little as 10 minutes).
I put her to sleep at seven with a bedtime routine and she usually isn't a problem to settle - she'll then wake forty minutes later, then once again at some point before eleven. Then its almost hourly through the night. I've started co-sleeping so i can get some rest as the sleep dep' is having a negative impact on me and my feelings for her and my partner, and i can't go out in the evenings as she is almost definitely going to wake crying at some point. she'll sleep longer when close to me - any advice on how i can help her to self soothe or sleep longer stretches? i feel like i'm losing my mind!

Igglybuff Thu 19-Aug-10 09:40:22

This is really really common kaiki. Your baby is still very young which is why she settles better when she's near you. Also very young to expect her to self settle.

The night wakings probably a combination of hunger (growth spurt) and then she got into the habit of waking up at night.

My DS did this!

How are her day naps? Can you make sure she gets enough naps in the day to make her more relaxed and likely to sleep at night. Also how is your bedtime routine? The waking after 40 minutes and the 2 hourly wakings after midnight is a sign that she's overtired and so cannot wind down properly. I'd suggest a short bedtime routine and earlier bedtime.

It will get better soon - around 5 months my DS started to self settle sporadically and could do it by 6 months. We helped him by patting him in the cot after I had fed him (although it didn't work every time and rarely works now he's teething!). Also he learned to sleep on his front so was much more settled.

LostinGlos Thu 19-Aug-10 09:42:47

Really feel for you, I have been lucky, I have 2 daughters, one of 1½ & another of 2½, they both started to go through the night really quickly & life has been ok. However I also have an older son who took years...
I was exclusively breastfeeding him too & had exactly the same issues your having & too be honest I started to bottle feed in the the early evening (sometimes this was expressed though I wasn't really much good at that !)didn't want to really, but I always felt that he wasn't getting a full feed & was quite often so warm & snuggly of a night that he would keep dropping off during a feed & then wake up hungry for a top up every hour or so.
Not saying that this should be the answer for you, but for me the lack of sleep was a killer, along with the mood swings & depression it can bring on & then you can start feeling completely isolated. At the end of the day, do anything you can to make yourself happy, becasue your baby will pick up on it & be happy too..

Isawthreeships Thu 19-Aug-10 10:55:17

Kaiki, this is really really common. You are not alone.

It is a hard phase - I feel for you - but don't for one minute think that your DD is waking because of something you are doing or not doing. Every baby is different, some are good sleepers, others are not. 17wks is too young to expect your DD to self-settle - it's just a skill that they learn with time like crawling or walking. FWIW, my DS only finally started sleeping through at about 12mo and only consistently at about 18mo, once most of his teeth had come through. It will get better.

In the meantime, in terms of coping strategies, cosleeping is a great way to handle bfing at night. Also, it sounds as if your DD is sleeping a longer stretch in the early evening. If you can, get to bed when she does so that you get at least one longer stretch of sleep. It's a bit anti-social, I know, but it's not forever.

Also, keep an eye out for signs of teething (red cheeks, red bum, lots of dribble). If your DD has started to teethe, you can always use teething gel or calpol to ease night teething pains during the worst bits.

Zil131 Thu 19-Aug-10 13:23:36

Are you breastfeeding to sleep?
Much as I will get slammed on here for suggesting methods such as 'crying down'- I did find with my BF DS, that if he was breastfed to sleep, he would just wake up anything upto and hour later, obviously feeling cheated, and start to scream... But if he went to sleep knowing full well he was in his bed / pram etc and was expected to sleep he seems more resigned to it, and would sleep for longer.

However 17 weeks sounds about right for the 4 month growth spurt (was a killer with both of mine), so give it a few more days before taking any drastic action.

Also, I once had a midwife who would suggest the '3 course meal' approach to baby who fell asleep on the breast: Feed - take off and wake up - Feed - take off and really wake up (strip down, change nappy etc) - Feed. That way you know your DD is getting a proper feed.

Good luck, they will all sleep one day...

Igglybuff Thu 19-Aug-10 13:41:28

I think 17 weeks is a bit young for crying down - unless you're sure it's more of a grizzle than a full blow upset cry. (Sorry Zil131 - although I'm biased, I don't think crying down is nice at any age).

kaiki Thu 19-Aug-10 19:08:27

i think i've been surrounded by people whose babies are 'sleeping through' for too long and was starting to think that that was the norm...
it's good to know that this behaviour is pretty common. i'm literally crippled with tiredness and have been taking the easy approach of breastfeeding to sleep without thinking that i may be setting up bad habits;

igglybuff - she sleeps about four hours a day on a loose routine depending on her wake-up time - i'm trying to structure it better as i've heard this can help sleep at night (?)

lostinglos - i've been thinking about a bottle feed too as feel she is too early for weaning but doesn't get a full feed at night as she is soooooo sleepy at each hourly wake.

isawthreeships - all great advice too, thanks - she is clearly uncomfortable with her teeth but is not yet cutting through. and you're right, she sometimes manages 5 hours (8pm - 1am) so i know she can do it - the waking usually starts about 2am.

zil131 - i dread these growth spurts - this hourly waking coincided with her 12 week one and now seems more habitual then anything else. at the moment we're having to stay at my partners father's place as we're between homes so crying of any kind has to be nipped in the bud as there are other people in the house, not just my little family, otherwise i would give her at least a minutes grizzling. but i don't subscribe to crying it out - her will i'm afraid, is much stronger than mine!

Igglybuff Thu 19-Aug-10 19:50:58

Yes if you make sure she has a nap not long after waking, then awake for up to two hours between subsequent naps. But don't leave it too long between last nap and bedtime as they get overtired so easily. Also keep the routine calm - I ditched stories/light shows and occasionally the bath as too exciting!! Also keep things calm in afternoon - so let her do more watching instead of active play (eg stick in a bouncy chair instead of under a play gym).

You can also get your partner to help with the nights - let him try and resettle for any feeds where she doesn't seem hungry. Or try not responding straight away if she wakes - obviously if she kicks off, then feed her but she might drift off. My DS did this sometimes - it was like magic!

Ignore the other mums who's babies are sleeping through. I did!

Also I know what you mean about lack of sleep. It nearly killed me. To cope I used to nap when DS did and had to make sure I ate well. I also went to bed early (I hope you do!) and made sure I got out everyday. The fresh air works wonders for you and baby.

Latootle Fri 20-Aug-10 23:30:14

maybe she is ready for a little baby rice during the day this business of not solids till they are six months is daft.

kphips Wed 17-Aug-11 22:36:31

I am just taking a brief second between my baby's screaming wakeups to tell you i'm there too at nearly 20 weeks. I got settled at 2 wakeups a night up till 12 weeks, at 12 I thought was bad as went to 4, now its 7, 8 10 , 12 sometimes, max sleep session an hour, often wakes every 10 or 20, always screaming, no way will she settle herself. Read & tried 'the no cry sleep solution,' made me cry, had 3 health visitors stumped, breastfeeding helpline woman recommended me the book I'd already thrown out the window & all my mummy mates gutted as they have gone from 'sleeping thru' to 2 wakeups a night again. 2 wakeups a night would feel like a 2 week holiday & jug of Sangria right now. I feel for u, plus I go back to work in 2 weeks. V frightened of this continuing much longer. Am trying not to drive as this tiredness is like driving drunk!!

AngelDog Thu 18-Aug-11 00:12:42

Really normal. Even the NHS weaning leaflet says that more frequent waking in the 3-5 month window is normal and probably doesn't suggest they need solids.

The 4 month sleep regression is hideous but it usually calms down once they hit the developmental leap at 19 weeks (about 19 weeks from their due date, so adjust if your LO was early or late).

Lots of info here, here, here and here.

Octaviapink Thu 18-Aug-11 08:02:55

Totally normal. We're still there at 9 months. However, if it's any consolation you'll be so tired your brain won't be making memories properly. So you won't actually remember any of this...

LiegeAndLief Thu 18-Aug-11 09:16:22

Maybe it's the teeth. Have you tried Calpol to see if it makes a difference? My dd was very similar and I really didn't know why until the night wakings miraculously stopped when all her teeth were through. Sadly she has started waking again now that her second lot of molars are coming through, but nowhere near as bad as when she was a baby.

I didn't go out in the evening until she was 14 months old as she always woke and would only be settled with a breastfeed. It does pass - I have to try quite hard to remember just how awful it was now! If she had been my first though I would never have had another.

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