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8 week old BF schedule. Help!

(36 Posts)
argylesocks Mon 04-Jul-11 13:13:57

There's probably tons of threads about this but I couldnt find any so please help me!

My DS is nearly 8 weeks and is a difficult feeder. He's eaten round the clock every hour since birth and at 8 weeks still won't go more than an hour and a half between feeds, night or day.

Everyone says he should be eating for 20 minutes at a time, or at least 10 on each breast, but I can never get him to eat for more than 10 minutes total. He either falls asleep and will NOT wake up or gets bored and won't eat anymore.. then an hour later is screaming bloody murder because he's starving.

I cant sleep, I can't leave the house because all he does is eat. I realise this is normal for newborns but everyone, including health visitors, say by 8 weeks he should be eating more and going longer between feeds but he's not making any progress.

Anyone else had this problem. I dont know what to do except wait and hope for the best but two months on it's not improving. Help!

RitaMorgan Mon 04-Jul-11 13:18:23

Will he only take one breast at each feed? Can you swap back and forth between breasts when he gets bored of the first side or is he done after 10 minutes and that's it?

tiktok Mon 04-Jul-11 13:22:22

argyle - who is the 'everyone' saying he should be eating for 20 mins at a time? Why should babies eat within or up to a certain time? This 'everyone' knows very little about the healthy, normal variability in feeding...and why batting against a baby's needs is pointless and, sometimes, unkind, leading to distress and frustration. I'm assuming your baby is healthy and thriving.

An hour to an hour and a half between feeds is normal - it is not 'progress' to go longer, just a different pattern smile It's not a problem, it's not something that needs to 'improve', it's not wrong.....but yes, it is difficult if it happens at night and keeps you awake, and it is difficult if it prevents you going out and about.

It's a lot easier to change your expectations and life than to change the needs of an 8 week old smile So....night time feeding can be easier with (safe) co-sleeping; day time feeding can be easier with a sling and with help to do other tasks that are harder with a baby at your breast.

A baby whose needs are accepted and responded to quickly becomes calmer and easier as time goes on - this is shown again and again in research.

So going with the flow now will make life easier later on smile

argylesocks Mon 04-Jul-11 13:35:13

wow that seemed a bit snappy. Sorry if I'm not an expert in baby feeding as this is my first and that' why I'm asking for advice. 'Everyone' so far has been the midwives, health visitors, GPs... that's 'everyone' to me at the moment.

Every other baby I know goes several hours especially at night. I'm asking if this is normal to continue beyond the first few weeks.

And thanks Rita, I've tried to swap breasts but he seems equally bored and is done after 10 minutes (maximum) no matter what. Sometimes I can get him to go a bit longer if I stop and change him and then put him back but thats only occasionally.

RitaMorgan Mon 04-Jul-11 13:41:29

I agree with tiktok that not all babies will match this hypothetical baby that feeds every 3 hours for 20 minutes - mine certainly didn't, he was more like 40 minutes every 2 hours for months and didn't manage 3 hours between feeds til he was on solids. Feeding little and often is much more natural for a breastfed baby than having infrequent big feeds anyway.

If you can, I would just go with it. You can't force him to feed for longer than he wants to anyway. Apparently breastmilk only takes 90 minutes to be digested, so if he gets a full tummy in 10 minutes, 90 minutes later it will be empty again.

Is his weight gain and everything ok? Content and alert between feeds?

TYBear Mon 04-Jul-11 13:42:45

I know you are saying that he is a difficult feeder, and it sounds like he is more demanding (in terms of frequency of feeds) than some other babies but what you are describing sounds well within the normal range for an 8 week old.
Not that that makes it any easier for you when you have had exactly zero sleep, I know.

Don't look for progress in terms of how long he goes between feeds, look to see if he is gaining weight, alert and heathly - that is how you see the progress and you see what your milk is doing.

Do you have older DC? If not, can you settle yourself in, buy a few box set DVDs, some chocolate and just feed when he wants to feed, sleep whenever he sleeps (even if its just resting on the sofa with your eyes closed)? I got through about 6 box sets of DVDs in the newborn weeks with my first. If she fell asleep (a rare miracle, I can assure you!) then I clicked mute and put subtitles on!

Breastfeeding is so, so rewarding when its going well, but so, so tough when its hard going. You have done SO WELL getting to 8 weeks.

TYBear Mon 04-Jul-11 13:47:23

Not to speak for her, but I think TikTok is just frustrated that 'helpful' advice given to new mothers sometimes causes more worry that it ought to.

If you stick around on the breastfeeding board (please do!) you will see that TikTok is an invaluable source of info on breastfeeding. She doesn't know it, because I've had many namechanges, but she helped get me through many a difficult week where I was desperate to continue bf despite everything going wrong!

emsies Mon 04-Jul-11 13:49:38

It sounds like you've had some odd advice. Do you have any breastfeeding groups/peer supporters near you? They often run in childrens centres or hospitals? Or failling that la leche meet all over the place. They should have some people that are trained in breastfeeding advice.

Health visitors sadly really do vary on their bf advice. Mine was fantastic - I was similar to you and the hv patiently explained that babies really do all vary as does your "let down". I never breastfed for very long at a time as I had um er - very fast flowing milk (you could catch the milk from the other breast in a cup ;) ) and so of course babe got the milk at a much faster rate. Babies and breasts vary so much that the speed of drinking is so different. I also only fed from one boob at a time but that might be because I had a fast let down.

As for how often you should feed - mw and hv usually give you the recommended advice to feed on demand, which by definition isn't schedule feeding.

Kellymom is an american site but one I found ever so helpful with breastfeeding questions.

You're doing so well, and things do settle into a pattern of sorts. Good luck!

daytoday Mon 04-Jul-11 13:57:02

Poor you. You sound exhausted. I'm going to go against the grain here. My eldest son feed every 1-2 hours. He was a very sleepy jaundiced baby and I had to work very hard to keep him awake for his feeds.

Here's what you could try, if you haven't already. When he cries for his next feed - see if you can extend it by just 5-10 minutes. With the aim of stretching him 15 minutes a day - so that by day 3 or 4 he should happily be going 2 hours between feeds. Cuddle him, walk around, take him for a walk in the buggy - let him sleep etc. Then feed him and try to keep him awake - you could try opening his babygro. Burp him and change his nappy mid feed - and you then put him back on the same breast - to make sure he gets the fatty milk -

See if you can wake him up after his feed. I find mine zonk out after a feed but its not a real sleep, they're just chilling after eating and they wake up after 15 minutes.

Then at the next feed - try to get him to go another 5-10 minutes extra -

Parenting is horses for courses - I like to have a little bit of a routine and would expect an 8 week old to be going 2-3 hours between feeds.

Have you ruled up underlying issues like reflux - which can result in a very upset baby after feeding?

TYBear Mon 04-Jul-11 14:08:38

Yes, i used to try to extend the gap between feeds a bit like daytoday, usually with a nappy change or a change of scenery. Only by about 5 minutes or so, not sure if it worked but it made me feel more in control.

Of course, if DD was screaming and desperate to feed I did, but I didn't always whip boob out at the first little snuffle of wanting a feed.

tiktok Mon 04-Jul-11 14:13:42

Sorry if I sounded snappy, argyle - if I was, I was being snappy with the 'everyone' who have told you such unhelpful things about what babies ought to do sad

There's no reason why anyone should automatically know that your baby's feeding is normal and that many babies ask for feeds at 8 weeks just as often as he is doing - but it's a shame that HVs and GPs who should know are undermining you instead of giving you practical info about how to cope. Instead they are telling you what your baby 'should' be doing sad

'Screaming' for a feed is a late sign of needing to be fed, usually - most babies will give earlier signs than this and when they are young, it's usually easier to respond to these early signs.

But that's maybe not what you want to hear!

tiktok Mon 04-Jul-11 14:14:39

TyBear - glad I helped smile

argylesocks Mon 04-Jul-11 15:20:53

Thanks everyone. I'm just really struggling with the lack of sleep. I know screaming is a late sign of hunger and at night I always catch him way before that but during the day he seems to go from 0 to 60 immediately and just spontaneously starts screaming.

Like just now, I fed him and took him right outside for a walk. We got around the corner and he started wailing and shoving his hands in his mouth like he was starving. I took him back upstairs and pulled out the boob - he took 2 sucks and promptly fell asleep. It's like this all the time. He constantly wants to be fed but barely eats at a time.

And yes he's gaining plenty of weight so I know he's ok.

RitaMorgan Mon 04-Jul-11 15:24:39

Have you tried a dummy? Sounds like he wanted to suck to sleep rather than to eat. I used a dummy for times I couldn't stick a boob in ds's mouth like when he was in the pram.

worldgonecrazy Mon 04-Jul-11 15:28:36

Relax, eat chocolate cake and have a small glass of wine. It will all seem much better, I promise. Your LO is doing what nature tells him to do, and that is the most perfect thing he can be doing.

PeppaPigandGeorge Mon 04-Jul-11 15:35:31

There is light at the end of the tunnel - my second one fed every 90 minutes round the clock until around 4.5 months. Some feeds she'd be there for an hour, some under 10 minutes. What helped us was offering her the boob MORE often than she'd want it (so hourly), to pre-empt the hunger. She seemed to get the idea that the boob would be offered and she wouldn't starve and after a couple of weeks was feeding less often.

Janoschi Mon 04-Jul-11 15:45:59

My DD is 8 weeks old too and a very haphazard feeder. She can go 4 hours between feeds sometimes and other times it's every 40 minutes. I THINK on those occasions though she was thirsty as she would drop off the boob once the fattier milk arrived. It's been hot recently - do you think this might be the case for your little one?

My DD has NEVER fed for 20 minutes straight except for the 6 week growth spurt when it was bloody HOURS at a time. She's usually around the 5-10 minute mark. My HV said I have a strong let down and she's definitely a strong sucker so she's getting in 5-10 mins what a slow sucker gets in 20-30 mins. This is a good example of why it's ridiculous to say all babies should feed for 20 minutes. There's a lot to take into account - weather, force of let-down, strength of suck, growth spurts, regularity of feeds....

No advice or anything - just wanted to reassure you about the 'normality' of a 20 minute feed. And I second the comfort sucking thing. My DD is a little sucker so I sometimes just try her with my little finger. Often that's enough to settle her. If she's hungry she'll soon complain that the finger isn't really doing it for her. Well, it helps me anyway!

tiktok Mon 04-Jul-11 15:55:39

argyle - sometimes babies need to feed for contact and comfort, and that's normal. It's not just hunger or thirst. Today when you came back home, could you have just found somewhere to sit and feed outside, rather than change your plans?

piglit74 Mon 04-Jul-11 18:39:38

I have an 8 week old baby too. Aren't they gorgeous? Anyway, mine doesn't conform to the every 3 hours rule either and only feeds for 10 min usually so you are not alone. She really likes sucking though as a form of comfort and I think her teeth are already bothering her so a little chew is also comforting. She doesn't like dummies so I put my little finger in her mouth, upside down so it fits the roof. Sometimes a little suck is all she needs to get off to sleep which then extends the time between feeds. Might be worth a try.
It will get better and you are not the only one with a rebel at 8 weeks!

piglit74 Mon 04-Jul-11 18:39:38

I have an 8 week old baby too. Aren't they gorgeous? Anyway, mine doesn't conform to the every 3 hours rule either and only feeds for 10 min usually so you are not alone. She really likes sucking though as a form of comfort and I think her teeth are already bothering her so a little chew is also comforting. She doesn't like dummies so I put my little finger in her mouth, upside down so it fits the roof. Sometimes a little suck is all she needs to get off to sleep which then extends the time between feeds. Might be worth a try.
It will get better and you are not the only one with a rebel at 8 weeks!

funnylittlekaty Mon 04-Jul-11 19:02:36

I was in exactly the same position argyll, up to a couple of weeks ago when I hired a pump from nct and have been expressing for each feed and topping up with the demon formula. I was just demented with worry that he was hungry all the time and I wasn't meeting his needs. I think I lacked confidence because he didn't really nap ever...
anyway he has been much more settled and happy but he still sucks his blimmin fingers even when I've just seen him guzzle 160ml of ebm! I'm now trying to see if I can get him back on the boob and still have some grasp on mental health. He's been going down at 7 every night and I must admit its lovely watching him sleep peacefully which he never seems to on the boob. Anyway...just wanted to say you're not alone! I'll be watching this thread! Xx

Parietal Mon 04-Jul-11 19:40:20

Argyle - if he sucks for 2 mins then sleeps, he probably isn't hungry at all, just tired. But needs to suck to sleep. A dummy might be just what you need. Or the old fashioned trick of letting baby suck your little finger (upside down, fingertip against roof of mouth). Not every cry is a cry of hunger.

Parietal Mon 04-Jul-11 19:41:02

Piglit already said it!

argylesocks Mon 04-Jul-11 20:00:33

I guess when he's screaming and shoving his hands in his mouth and doing the nipple search I assume he's hungry but maybe he does just want to suck on something. He doesn't really like dummies. He's taken one before when hes calm but when he's wailing like that he won't hear of it.

I know I'm supposed to 'catch' him before he gets hungry but he seriously goes from perfectly calm to screaming his head off at a split second so I don't know how to preempt it.

Maybe its not hunger and he's just being fussy? I think I frame it as a feeding issue when its really more than that. He just doest seem happy very often and spends most of his time screaming for food. its horrible to see him like that and I dont know what to do.

RitaMorgan Mon 04-Jul-11 20:30:00

I think it's a boob issue in that a boob basically fixes anything for a little baby - hungry, thirsty, tired, bored, uncomfortable, overstimulated etc etc. I fed on demand and was quite happy to feed ds as often as he wanted, but sometimes he wanted to suckle when it wasn't entirely convenient (in the car, in the pram, in the sling - some women swear by breastfeeding in a sling but I could never manage it) and sometimes I needed a break and to hand him over to someone. In those moments a dummy was very useful. If ds was actually hungry rather than just wanting to suck he spat it out immediately though.

It took a bit of perseverance and trying a few different styles to find one he liked though.

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