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Does it ever actually get easier?

(11 Posts)
FerretMum Mon 29-Aug-11 22:05:44

I seem to be stuck in a rut, I can't see things changing and I feel powerless to do anything about it...

My lovely DD is coming up to 15 weeks, I have been bf on demand exclusively as she has not yet taken a bottle. She feeds to sleep, and as she is not a great napper I have got into the habit of spending my afternoon sat on the sofa feeding her and letting her sleep. Consequently she almost always falls asleep during a feed so I cannot tell if she's satisfied and had enough to eat... She seems to feed between one & a half to two & a half hourly through the day, the frequency increasing during the afternoon and evening, so she is almost cluster feeding before bedtime.

We have tried to introduce a bedtime routine, but the constant feeding goes on throughout the evening so she doesn't settle before about ten or eleven. She does then go a reasonable amount of time generally, sometimes up to about five or six hours between feeds, so I'm not complaining about that!

What concerns me is her feeding pattern, the frequency and duration that she seems to feed for suggests to me that she is not getting enough. Her weight gain has not been great recently, I don't know if the HV is concerned, I guess not as she hasn't bothered to contact me! She is a very alert baby, I sometimes wonder if that's where all her energy is expended! I don't know if she's getting enough food or sleep, I just feel like I'm riding out a storm, hoping for the best and that one day things will be ok...

Please reassure or advise...

Beveridge Mon 29-Aug-11 22:38:00

3 hours between feeds is more typically the pattern of a FF baby, not a BF one (formula takes longer to digest than breastmilk). Are you getting plenty of wet and dirty nappies? (4-6 in 24 hours).

Recommendations now are that weighing is only done every month to help discount short-term fluctuations in the overall picture so when you say weight gain has not been great recently, how long a period are you looking at this over?

Bedtimes are not something to worry about at this stage - the idea that small babies can be packed off to bed at 7pm and are not seen or heard from again until 7am is most unrealistic, but unfortunately it is a very pervasive expectation in this country!

5/6 hours between breastfeeds is pretty good going at night - congratulations! Feeding on cue is just that, you never know if it's hunger or thirst (4 month growth spurt is a classic or the many other equally valid reasons why babies suddenly seem to fancy a feed (tiredness, frustration, boredom, loneliness, teething[yes, this early on, things could be happening!]).

If you think about how much brain and physical development is going on at this time, it's no wonder babies like to have a lot of naps. Some do only seem to catnap unless you leave them where they are, others flake out for solid periods and can be put in a cot (I have no idea what the latter must be like!). If you leave them to their own devices, they will get the sleep they need though.

Yes, being trapped on the sofa is pretty much standard at certain points - if your DD is your only child make the most of it, curl up with them, a good book or DVD box set. And when you do feel like you are being hypnotised by the sofa, just remember "this too shall pass" because it does. Everything is a phase, at the time it feels like it lasts forever but in a few weeks it will be a distant memory and things change by themselves.

MrsMumf Mon 29-Aug-11 22:41:19

I could have written most of that about my daughter who is 13 weeks though certainly not the bit about the longer stretch of sleep at night! I find stroking her cheek if she starts to drift off during a feed wakes her enough to carry on a little longer and I do that until she comes off in a more purposeful action rather than just falling off the breast, if that makes sense?

Sorry I can't be a bit more helpful. Things will get better, I'm sure.

Haggisfish Mon 29-Aug-11 23:23:46

Realistically, I found things got better after about 22 weeks - mine started getting into a slight routine of going to bed at 7pm, and weaking every hour for a quick feed and then (very occasionally) sleeping from 11pm - 4am and then waking at 7am. I didn't mind this, as she had quick feed and back to sleep again. It has continued to get easier until now at 13 months, when I am ready to start phasing it out, but not quite sure how to go about it!

MrsVidic Tue 30-Aug-11 02:19:00

It does get easier- slowly then before u realise it she'll be sleeping throu! I know lots of babies like this (both formula and breast fed males no difference)

ThisIsYourSong Tue 30-Aug-11 11:39:13

that sounds very very similar to my DS, who is now 5 months. It does get better, although I can't tell you exactly when! First he started 'finally' settling earlier, about 8/9pm, now he often has a last feed about 7/8pm and usually sleeps through, waking once in the night (generally about 4 or 5am). The cluster feeding period has moved earlier and starts about 5pm with a feed, nap and then another feed or two and then sleep. Like I said, I can't exactly remember but it happened quite quickly. I was really getting exhausted with being up all evening as I have other DCs and wasn't sure how much longer I could go. I think it was around 4 months as I remember worrying about the 4 month sleep regression, but things actually got better then. Hopefully not far to go!

TheProvincialLady Tue 30-Aug-11 11:48:13

Weight gain does slow at around this age in the perfectly healthy BF baby. It doesn't with FF babies, which is one of the reasons suggested why FF babies tend to be bigger in later life (statistically I mean, obviously not all). Is your HV over weighing your DD and is she using a chart intended for BF babies (you can ask her this) as the curve is different.

Neither of mine went to bed any earlier than 10pm at that age, they cluster fed in the evenings or were just plain wakeful until around 4-5 months when they started to be sleepier. DS1 was bottle fed so I knew he was getting plenty of milk, but DS2 was BF and exactly the same.

You aren't doing anything wrong and it will get better all by itself eventually, but if you ever start to feel at the end of your tether you can instigate a feeding regime in the evenings and let your partner take care of her in between until she gets used to it. Stopping BF is not necessary unless you want to. Good lucksmile

hazchem Tue 30-Aug-11 12:06:22

I wanted to add my voice to the chours of it does get better!

I can't remember which week maybe around 18/19 it just felt like a fog had lifted. the feeding became quicker, i could put DS down and he would stay asleep. Also it started feeling like I was good at mothering about then instead of second guessing myself all the time.

If you can get a copy of it have a read of "breastfeeding made simple" i found it was really good for showing the longer term easiness of breastfeeding.

worldgonecrazy Tue 30-Aug-11 12:16:04

Yes it does get easier, but you do have a bit of hurdle coming up with the 20 (ish) week growth spurt, so gird your loins for that one and stock up on chocolate bars.

Your LO sounds absolutely normal, especially the constant evening feeding.

The weeks will fly by and before you know it she will be down to 2 or 3 feeds a day and you will miss these precious moments on the sofa.

Loopymumsy Tue 30-Aug-11 17:13:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FerretMum Tue 30-Aug-11 18:43:40

Thanks everyone for taking the time to comment! It really helps to remind me that we are "normal" and what we are doing is ok... I had no idea what this motherhood lark was going to be like! But I do realise we'll get there by hook or by crook!

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