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Losing my confidence with 14 wk old

(27 Posts)
Devonlover Tue 02-Aug-11 12:54:06

Can anyone offer any advice? I have a 14 wk DS and I just don't feel as if I know what I'm doing, feeding and sleep-wise. I'm EBF - I'm lucky in that he's always been a great feeder - but he's also hungry all the time and I'm completely exhausted. I'm feeding him every 2 to 3 hours during the day, and during the night, he'll go down at 7pm-ish until around 10.30pm-ish, which is my only real break. After that, he's still waking up at least every 3 hours, but more like 1.5 hrs. We're co-sleeping so that does allow me to feed him more easily and so on but it also means a more restless night.

The other problem is he barely sleeps during the day - maybe a 45 minute nap iin the morning, and maybe one in the afternoon if I'm lucky. Even in the buggy he doesn't sleep. He fights it, seems to wake himself up with a jolt, and starts crying loudly, and that's it, I can't settle him. I've read about this meaning that the baby is overstimulated, so I've tried calming things down well before naptime (not that I'm exactly having a party every day, but you know what I mean, no games, noisy activities etc, making room dark) but it doesn't seem to make any difference. He does suffer slightly with reflux, which means he hates lying down and is often sick long after a feed.

I'm tired of reading bloody books that tell me he should be on a routine by now, feeding every 4 hours, sleeping 1 to 2 hours each am and pm, and sleeping through the night. I seem to be a million miles away from this and can't figure out what to do. It doesn't help that most of the mums I know are FF and have babies who seem to sleep a lot!!

Basically, I don't think I'm doing the best job for him, because I think he's tired a lot of the time, and the lack of sleeping during the day is leading to more interrupted nights I think. I also feel guilty when I see him rubbing his eyes and looking exhausted and think I should be doing more to help him.

Feeding wise, I've tried expressing but haven't really managed to get into a routine with it, as I've found it a real faff to be honest, and combined with a hungry baby, just feel like I'm either constantly feeding or expressing. BUT maybe I need to stick with it. I've also toyed with the idea of mixing BF with FF just to give me a break. Would this work? Maybe this would help him sleep better at night, although I've read this is just a myth??

Please, any tips would be hugely appreciated. Sorry about the long post sad

SootySweepandSue Tue 02-Aug-11 13:03:01

I think the pattern you describe is very typical of a BF baby at the age. Do you have people around you that could take the pressure off ? I realise you are BF but I meant more for a chat/distraction. My baby hardly slept in the day so I just tried to get out a lot and do lots of activities.

Devonlover Tue 02-Aug-11 13:18:34

Thanks SSS. Yes, I do have good friends around locally and this does help lighten things a bit when it all gets a bit much. Nobody EBF though, and as I said, babies all being model examples apparently and sleeping 11 hour stints...!!

PS: is it the case then that EBF babies are more wakeful/sleep less than FF babies? I hadn't realised this.

VictoriaMc77 Tue 02-Aug-11 13:27:35

Hi,

Sorry I can't really offer any advice but I'm going through pretty much the same thing - my DS is nearly 17 weeks.

Just to let you know I know how hard it is ... you're not alone. I have friends too whose babies are FF and they seem to be just getting on with things and have found routines etc and are getting plenty of sleep! I've even on occasion regretted BFing as I think DS would be more settled if I had FF from day one ... I know that daft and I think its probably sleep deprivation taking over!!

I keep telling myself it will get easier ... xx

LittleMilla Tue 02-Aug-11 13:33:54

Hi Devon, my 13 week old generally struggles to sleep in the day for any longer than 40 mins. Have you tried a sling? We tend to get about 3-4 naps throughout the day and I try and put him somewhere different for each if he's being tough. My DS is the only one that I know that doesn't have a dummy and is EBF, so I know how you feel!

Although I am not there yet, I try and catch him before he gets overtired. I know it's bloody irritating when the books etc talk about this because you're often left thinking, "so what do I do when I've missed it?". My DS manages 2 hours tops before he needs a nap. And this tends to get longer as the day goes on. He's ready for a kip just and hour and a quarter after waking up, sometimes maybe an hour and a half? I started to see a pattern emerge once I began writing it down, but even now, things can change.

Re: feeding, I have given him bottles from time to time, simply to give me a break and so that he'll take one (should I want to, heaven forbid, have a night out!). Lots of purists are against ff, but i've given it a go and it doesn't make much difference to how long he sleeps. Just gives me a break.

And another irritating comment is about self settling. It's bloody hard work, but I found that once DS could get himself to sleep, everything improved so much. Means I can put him down in his cot, awake, and he'll go to sleep. We shhh pat and DS (controversially) sleeps on his tummy, which I know isn't for everywhere. I just found he flails so much that it was the only way he was happy. He's nearly rolling now though, so i'm exepcting everything to go haywire...and we've still got the four month sleep regression to get throough. There's a good thread on sleep that you might want to read about that.

Good luck.

fluffyanimal Tue 02-Aug-11 13:35:41

I EBF'd both my 2 until 6 months and they were exactly the same as yours. I'd say this is absolutely normal of an EBF baby and you are doing exactly the best thing, especially with the feeding on demand and co-sleeping to make night feeds more bearable. That's not to say it's not bloody hard work, but sometimes it is easier to bear if we adjust our expectations. Throw away all the books that talk about routine and gaps between feeds etc, I am quite convinced they are unrealistic, especially wrt EBF babies.

I don't know much about reflux but focussing on easing this problem may also help with the sleep - there are lots of knowledgable mums on here who can advise. If sleeping lying down is hard, do you have a baby swing he might sleep in, for example? Does he have medication for the reflux?

Trust yourself, you are doing a fantastic job and it will get easier. Definitely get out and about as much as you can, even just for walks in the park! And I have read somewhere (in one of the books I liked - Miriam Stoppard I think) that a baby who doesn't like daytime naps is taking lots in and likely to be a bright little one!

fluffyanimal Tue 02-Aug-11 13:37:54

x-posts with LittleMilla, yes a sling is a fab idea! I had one with DS2.

Steeplearningcurve Tue 02-Aug-11 13:42:09

Can't offer much advice but just wanted to say it sounds like you are doing fine. I would also take what your friends say about their baby's sleeping habits with a pinch of salt and not assume that ff will lead to lots of sleep. I unfortunately had to switch to ff when dd was younger and at 13wo it sounds like she is sleeping a bit better than your lo but nowhere near the 11 hours your friends have mentioned! She also fights napping even when she is tired and I know how frustrating it is. I think we have to accept that some babies are just too interested in the world to want to spend much time napping smile

Hope things get better for you

Firsttimer7259 Tue 02-Aug-11 14:05:18

Call a BF helpline (La Leche or NCT) and go through how often you feed, how long which side etc (keep a note for 24 hrs or more then call). They advised me at crucial points: main bit of advice was at around 3-4 months to feed twice on each side. So have a feed, when finished give it a few minutes, burp well, then latch on again same side. This magically extended the time between feeds to 3 hours sometimes 3.5. I was feeding every 1.5 hours or so. They might also have suggestions for how you manage a 24hr BF cycle in a way that avoids big night time feeds. At that age I think I allowed DD to tank up in peace at home from 4:30. That meant that at night she only had a couple of top up feeds.

At 3/4 months a bit of formula here and there will not equal a slippery slope. I always hated expressing and wish I had given formula more of a go. One of the things I would do differently 2nd time around

But the helpline was amazing. I called then 2-3 times in first year an dthe advice always helped hugely. BFing changes as your child grows and these tips made it much easier

Octaviapink Tue 02-Aug-11 14:05:24

Any book that tells you all that garbage about sleeping through, feeding every four hours etc etc should be THROWN AWAY because its author doesn't know what they're talking about. Breastfed babies almost never go that long between feeds as a regular thing until they're eating solids well (about 8 months). Nobody tells you in advance that if you're bf-ing there will be days when you're pinned to the sofa all day! A sling is an excellent idea. You will need to recognise that it is genuinely hard work for your body producing milk all the time. Particularly in the afternoons you need to rest, eat and drink so that you're fit for the evening's feeding. The formula thing is a myth.

Firsttimer7259 Tue 02-Aug-11 14:06:30

Mine rarely napped for more than 40 mins in the day either.

LittleMilla Tue 02-Aug-11 14:08:28

Meant to say, you're doing a ruddy good job so please don't start to question things. I am usually a really confident person who's been used to being good at most things - work etc. I've found being a mum so hard and honstly cried almost every day for the first 8 weeks of DS's life. The lack of control and uncertainaty have bearly broken me and I'm expecting more days like that in the future too.

There are good days (like today for me) and terrible days too. Cling to the positives, of whihc I am sure they are many, and get anyone and everyone to help. Sleep deprivation for me is the hardest and it means that I lose all perspective. Keep on talking too, I find it helps!

x

SootySweepandSue Tue 02-Aug-11 14:14:41

Hi OP, just to answer your Q...I'm not sure about BF and FF re sleep. Unfortunately despite my efforts I couldn't give my daughter breastmilk longer than 8 wks as she didn't latch (had to cut short the expressing as mastitis killed off supply in 1 boob). I did long to BF properly but in hindsight I did notice friends who were EBF with very similar schedules to yours whereby it was a bit easier as my LO slept at nights (but not at all in the day I might add!). I think it's all a bit random - some babies are tall some are short, some sleep well others don't...

I would definitely ask a BF specialist though as they may know some tricks that will make it easier for you. Just remember it won't be that long till they are on sandwiches and ribena and you've done a brilliant job already.

Firsttimer7259 Tue 02-Aug-11 14:23:59

Oh and I was exhausted when she fed every 1-2 hours. Really really exhausted. Its really tough when its like that so be kind to yourslef and dont listen to anyone going on about their great routines or sleeping through blablabla. Just focus on the problems you need to solve: can you develop a less tiring BF pattern and how can you get a bit more rest.

RitaMorgan Tue 02-Aug-11 14:26:20

Mine didn't nap for more than 45 minutes at a time til he was 7 months. 3 or 4 short naps are fine though - I used a sling a lot in the first few months.

My ds didn't even manage 3 hour gaps between feeds in the day til he was 6 months old grin If your baby is feeding a lot at night you could try offering more frequent feeds in the day? And I know lots of people don't like them but I found a dummy brilliant.

NinjaTurtle Tue 02-Aug-11 14:35:21

Hi, no advice really I'm afraid, just wanted to say that my DD was exactly the same at that age, and she was ff. She also suffered with reflux. I suppose I just wanted to say that ff would not necessarily make things better, DD has been totally ff from 4 weeks and she's never gone 4 hours between feeds until well after weaning began, and she had an awful sleep regression from 4-6 months where she was waking every 90 minutes during the night.

She's never been a great napped either, unless she was on me, or in her Amby hammock, maybe that would be worth a try with your DS, they come up on eBay all the time. At one point it was the only place she would really sleep, but even then it was only for half an hour.

Now she's 11 months, and has improved greatly over the last few months. She's still not sleeping through, but then many babies don't until well over a year, but she naps more in the day, sometimes up to two hours in one stretch! Also, you say he won't sleep in a buggy, DD wouldn't after so long, so I use a shade-a-babe because she likes to be in the dark. Again, these come up on eBay all the time.

Anyway, that turned into a bit of an essay! I just wanted to say that it does get much, much better. Hang on in there!

Devonlover Tue 02-Aug-11 14:39:05

Gosh, thank you all very much indeed. Esp for wading through the long post...

Very reassuring to read your thoughts, and some v helpful advice. It's also hugely helpful to hear that others are in the same position - sorry! I may well try the NCT breastfeeding line to see what they say, it can't hurt, and I'm sure millions of others have been in the same boat. I did try a sling - a babybjorn carrier, bought 2ndhand luckily, as he hated it. I think the feeling of being squashed in. But like all these things, I guess it's worth another try to see if things have changed.

Another good point, to rest up more - I'm working from home a couple of days a week without help and it's a bit of a nightmare. Perhaps I'm just doing too much.

Mainly though, it sounds as if it's all par for the course. Roll on 6 months when I can try solids as I'm guessing he'll enjoy this, being a big baby and a bit of a guzzler!

Devonlover Tue 02-Aug-11 14:42:28

Oh, and interesting points about the FF too. It's tempting to think the grass is greener whatever you're doing, but it doesn't sound as if FF will make much difference to the sleeping issue. DS is also a windy baby, so this could just make things worse. But I think I will have another go at expressing just to give me some reserves.
Thanks.

perrinelli Tue 02-Aug-11 15:13:46

I'd agree with your 'grass is greener' thing about feeding - I am FF DD2 who is 5 wks as I struggled with bfeeding and she didn't latch but I still struggle with feeling guilty about it and very envious of bfeeding people (although she does sleep well at night, though there's no way of teliing if this would be different if she was BF!). In contrast to you I don't seem to know anyone else who is FFing and everyone around me seems to be BF successfully! I'm sure at your stage that your milk is established so the occassional bottle of formula is not going to do any harm and you could see if that gave you a bit of a rest, but think carefully before switching completely as there is no guarantee your baby will be more settled and there are all those wind/guilt issues to worry about!

fluffyanimal Tue 02-Aug-11 15:41:55

You are working from home with a 14 wk old baby??? <hands Devonlover SuperMum award> Is this through choice or financial/career necessity?

Ciske Tue 02-Aug-11 15:52:55

So have a feed, when finished give it a few minutes, burp well, then latch on again same side. This magically extended the time between feeds to 3 hours sometimes 3.5. I was feeding every 1.5 hours or so.

My HV explained this to me. The first milk that comes out is very nutritional, but light in calories. The milk that follows is very high in calories and will fill baby up with the energy it needs. So it's important to make sure baby gets both during each feed. She recommended one side per feed.

RitaMorgan Tue 02-Aug-11 15:57:59

That's generally not current advice Ciske - limiting the baby to one side per feed can be used as a tactic to reduce supply. In the course of normal breastfeeding (eg no problems with oversupply) it's best to follow the baby's lead by feeding on one side until the baby is done then offering the other. You can always offer the first side again after the second.

So useful info here - www.analyticalarmadillo.co.uk/2010/07/foremilkhindmilk-and-lot-of-confusion.html

boognish Tue 02-Aug-11 19:28:28

You sound exactly like me two months ago.

Just to say that at 14 weeks your baby is not far off a big developmental spurt at 16 weeks. This was around the time I went to see a cranial osteopath for two appointments when I'd been in a situation not too dissimilar to yours: big baby seeming to need to feed all the time, but having lots of problems doing so because of reflux. Never really sleeping during the day and keeping me up a lot at night.

I don't know whether it was the cranial osteopath, DS going through that spurt, or something miraculous happening to my milk supply (as suddenly one breastful was often enough), but by 18 weeks he was a much happier chap and found his own rhythm, sleeping for up to three hours in the afternoon from about 1pm. The reflux eased gradually, so it was barely a problem by 20 weeks.

He still needs a lot of feeding because he's a big lad, but I too am trusting my instincts on this (as his feeds will just go on, with half-hour breaks, for up to five hours at times) - and I'm also letting him stick my food in his mouth when he grabs it off my plate (depending on what it is, of course) (and he's too young to actually know how to swallow anything yet). Got the book on baby-led weaning and finding he's calling the shots (drank my water from my plastic cup quite successfully on Sunday when it was really hot). I suppose I'm just trying to say that routines are an anxiety-inducing concept when you're ebf-ing and it gets more enjoyable, really.

mrshotrod Tue 02-Aug-11 20:50:09

I always said to friends who'd just had a baby 'it's the hardest thing you'll ever do'. Then I had my second baby and realised that many of those friends must have thought I was making a right balls up of it with the first, but for me with DS, it was SO HARD!!!!!! I used to be so jealous of mums who said they just 'loved' motherhood. I didn't feel I felt like that enough as my baby just seemed to be so demanding and hard to read (and hungry...or was he...!??) I breast fed for 9 months and did get silly about not wanting to use formula, but wouldn't hesitate to use it this time. If you express too then you won't be lessening your supply. My DD is here now and I've totally forgotten how I coped getting DS to sleep for naps etc, and am now struggling with her. He fed LOADS. Felt like he was always attached. I used to feed him to sleep, go on long pram walks anything, to get those naps. I also tortured myself with baby books (still do, am even worse this time!) He did start to sleep well at night, and that was just on boob milk. It takes time and patience and a lot of tears from you and the baby quite often. I used a rough routine guideline to help with estimated amount of time babies need to sleep etc. You will get there. DD is a totally different baby, though she really easily gets over tired and fights sleep, but she's only 6 weeks old and I have to tell myself off at expecting too much. It's hard with a lively toddler around too though, I just want her to settle easily so I can sort him out. Good luck.

drivingmisspotty Tue 02-Aug-11 22:24:29

Go easy on yourself, OP. And trust your instincts. I am sure you are taking wonderful care of your little one and routine will come - just listen to what she is telling you. My DD is 2 now but never used to sleep in the day. Drove me crackers but 'this too will pass' - they change so quickly and routine will come. I also EBFed and now I look back I wish I hadn't been so stringent about not using formula. With my next one I'll give the odd bottle of formula to get some rest or time out. The ready made cartons are pretty easy.

Good luck!

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