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What counts as ‘waking’ in the night to feed? (and after having typed out my question, probably also a thinly-disguised request for reassurance/help)

(12 Posts)
dobeessneeze Mon 08-Aug-11 15:58:16

I have a 5 week old baby, who is generally pretty happy and relaxed, and am asking more out of interest than anything else really.

I’m breastfeeding and we’re mostly cosleeping. She goes to bed in her cot (side off, pushed up against the bed) sometime between 7.30 and 9.30. If she’s in bed before about 8.45, I’ll also offer her the boob when I go to bed about 10ish, which she sometimes takes, although she still tends to feed about 1ish, and actually the times recently when she hasn’t gone down until 9.30, she’s slept through until 2. I’ll then bring her into bed with me from her first proper ‘night’ feed.

Her night feeds are still very erratic, but she tends to have at least 2 between 1am and 5am. The run-up to the feed is that she starts getting more fidgety and making little snuffly and squeaky noises, at which point she wakes me up and I feed her lying down, and then she settles back into a deep sleep straight away (although only if I keep her in the bed with me – if I try to put her back in the cot she continues fidgeting and snuffling to the point where she will sometimes wake up). She tends to wake for the day roughly 12 hours from whenever she went to bed.

What I’m asking I suppose is – when other people say that their babies ‘wake’ in the night for feeds, do they properly wake up? Am I ‘dream feeding’ (and I know there are mixed views on the benefits of this)?

I’m working on the basis that her snuffling has woken me up anyway and the quickest way for us both to settle back to sleep is to feed her straight away rather than waiting for her to wake up properly and risk her taking a while to settle back to sleep , but I do wonder a little whether there is any benefit in trying to help her go a little longer between feeds at night, or whether I should just be grateful to have such a fabulous baby and hope that she stays this way?

During the day she’s a real snacker and will feed every 40 minutes or so when she’s awake – actually I’ve stopped even looking at the clock, but it’s frequent anyway.

Oh, and one more thing – she also (quite far into a feed) will frequently get red-faced, squirmy and agitated and start crying and clawing and scratching at my breasts. It’s been suggested that this might be because the flow is too fast (I do have a lot of milk, which I frequently spray all over her face if she comes off mid-flow), the flow is too slow, she has wind, she’s just tired, and most recently that she’s just a sucky baby who is getting annoyed that milk is coming out when she’s just looking for comfort. I tried giving her a dummy the last day or two, which she somerimes takes but doesn’t seem that bothered about, and it hasn’t stopped the red-faced squirming. She never does this at night.

Others’ experiences/opinions etc very welcome. Thanks!

RitaMorgan Mon 08-Aug-11 17:26:40

I think if you try to make her go longer between night feeds you'll just spend more time awake in the night. I found it was easier just to feed at the first squeak - you soon get to the point where you barely wake yourself and won't have any idea in the morning how many times the baby fed grin

Not sure about the red faced squirming - have you tried taking her off and winding her/just having a break when she does it?

TheFrozenMBJ Mon 08-Aug-11 18:12:40

This is the massive benefit of co-sleeping (bed sharing if we're going to be pedantic) neither you norDD need wake up fully at any time in the night.

I did this with DS and it was bliss in comparison to trying to wait for him to screaming hunger and waking up properly.

orchidee Mon 08-Aug-11 18:49:12

I have a 13 week old (and a bedside cot - aren't they great?)

I also feed at the first sign of waking and certainly did at 5 weeks. At this early age that approach may be more legitimate than at 13 weeks, but I don't know how often my baby wakes during the night now, he semi-wakes me to help him get access but he's heading toward self-service snacking already.

Anyway, I think your instincts are right. Feed when she shows signs of waking, don't wait for full-blown crying. Demand feeding means responding to the first sign of hunger cues and I don't see any difference at night. Whether or not this is dream feeding I don;t know, though I think dream feeding is YOU deciding to feed regardless of your baby's sleep cycle, whereas feeding when she semi-wakes means you're feeding during her natural change of light to deep sleep. Whether this matters I don't know, but I think that's the difference between your approach and dream feeding.

Happy co-sleeping!

orchidee Mon 08-Aug-11 18:53:59

About the red-faced thing. I wondered about that too (I can't remember when it stopped...) Anyway, I would give DS a break and wind him when this happened. Whether he needed that or needed a break or needed the milk flow to speed up or slow down, I felt that doing something to calm him before continuing the feed helped. Sometimes though he just lost his latch and got red-faced because he wanted his milk back... it was as though he'd let go for a rest then get annoyed about his milk disappearing. smile

dobeessneeze Mon 08-Aug-11 19:38:15

Thanks very much for all your help - I'm definitely going to keep going with what we're doing - it's definitely working for us for now. I'm a big fan of the co-sleeping (and especially when she's in the cot by the bed as I can spread out more smile) and honestly can't imagine how new parents who don't co-sleep manage to survive. I reckon I'm getting near enough 8 hours most nights, but reckon I'd only be getting about half that if I was trying to settle her back into her own bed after every feed.

Good point about there being no difference between following feeding cues during the day or night orchidee

I have tried taking her off and winding her when she does the squirming - it usually settles her, though I'm not sure whether it's because she genuinely has wind, or whether having her over my shoulder and patting her is just comforting her in a different way and then she forgets about the sucking. Most of the time if I put her back on after a while (even if the winding has generated a big burp), the red-faced squirming comes back. It's not too much of a problem though - it doesn't happen at every feed, she's gaining weight (been following the upper 91st percentile, so definitely no problem with weight!).

Thanks!

Albrecht Mon 08-Aug-11 19:47:50

Sounds like its going pretty well to me smile. Babies this young still need to feed in the night so better than waiting til they are in a state. There is a debate about when they are old enough to go without and I think it depends on the individual.

The red face thing, I agree, try burping. I think feeding lying down is supposed to help with a fast flow?

And she won't stay that way - they change all the time as soon as you've got used to what to expect!

RitaMorgan Mon 08-Aug-11 19:49:59

Maybe she is just finished feeding when she does it then?

AngelDog Mon 08-Aug-11 21:21:46

At 5 weeks I'd feed at the first snuffle.

When DS was tiny I'd feed as soon as he started snuffling in the carry cot - he'd never get as far as crying.

By the time he was 4 months he was waking stupidly often. It turned out I was waking & scooping him up to feed him when he snuffled, even though he would have happily gone back to sleep on his own. (I discovered that when I didn't pick him up immediately as I was having a dream about feeding his twin - actually my pillow!) After that, I only fed when he was noisier and he started waking a lot less often.

In the No-Cry Sleep Solution Elizabeth Pantley suggests using ideas like that as long as your DC is over 4 months old.

It does change constantly, though, and if you're co-sleeping it matters a lot less as you don't have to wake up properly.

dobeessneeze Tue 09-Aug-11 10:22:40

Haha - I've woken up thinking I was feeding her when I wasn't, but haven't yet tried to feed the pillow!

I've heard that the No-Cry Sleep Solution is good - I'd been planning to read that one to get some ideas for when eventually the time comes to move her out of our bed, but might have a look sooner to see if there are any useful suggestions for while she is still in with me. Thanks.

orchidee Tue 09-Aug-11 18:41:48

The Sears sleep book might be interesting for you - similar gentle approach as Pantley with a lot of info on the biology of sleep (inc why newborns should have different sleep cycles to adults). See here for an idea of what you'd be getting. Your library may stock these books (mine does.)

Also, interesting to hear your baby is on the 91st centile - mine too - maybe it's just a big baby thing smile

As a PP said I recommend feeding lying down as it seems to help the baby set the pace and feeding uphill may help if you've a fast/strong letdown.

dobeessneeze Tue 09-Aug-11 19:03:12

Oh thanks - I will definitely check out the Sears book too, and will see if I can get them out of the library.

I do think there's a connection between the squirming and feeding position as she always feeds happily lying down. And weirdly she usually feeds happily when we're out and about as well (and obviously not lying down as we'd get strange looks that way), so maybe you're right RitaMorgan and she's just finished feeding and I'm forcing her to keep going at home during the day (which would also explain the spectacular vomiting), whereas at night I just go back to sleep and when we're out I don't hang about with feeding. I didn't think it was that she was full until now as I figured she would just unlatch herself as she usually does if she wasn't interested, but when she goes into red-faced squirming mode, it's like she's clinging on for dear life trying not to let go. I don't know really - hopefully it's something that will pass though once she's a bit bigger and we're both a bit more experienced in this whole breastfeeding malarkey. It's good to know yours has now stopped by 13 weeks orchidee

I used to wonder why they had support groups as I thought once you knew how to do it then you just got on with it. Definitely learned my lesson there!

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