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Why am I so conflicted about introducing a bottle of formula at 5mo?

(27 Posts)
evertonmint Wed 12-Nov-14 14:01:48

DS is 5mo next week. His sleep is hideous and completely unpredictable (he has been surviving on 8-10 hours in 24 the past fortnight or so - woefully underslept). He is waking 3 (good but rare) to 5 (more normal) times between midnight and 6.30am and will only be fed back to sleep. I have been co-sleeping since birth, which I have never been overly enamoured with, and I am now no longer getting the rest it afforded me in the early days. I have 2 older children,one at school and one at nursery a couple of days but home the rest. My husband is out for 12 hours a day. I am chronically sleep-deprived and feel awful. My reserves are at rock bottom. I can only express 1-2oz at a time, if I can find time to fit it in.

So the obvious answer to me now is to try a bottle of formula at 11pmish and see if I can either get my head down earlier with DH doing this feed or if we're lucky get longer at night. At the very least I could leave DH to deal with him for one night so I can sleep.

Sleep is more important than how he is fed at this stage. I just cannot see that one formula feed will outweigh the benefit of the hundreds of breastfeeds he has had by now, regardless of the Just One Bottle gut flora stuff. And solids are only a few weeks away at most. My older DS was mixed fed from 3 weeks to 12 months and is a healthy, bright boy so I know it isn't in any way evil. And my DD was ebf until 24 weeks when we started solids and never had formula (weaned her to cows milk after her birthday) so it's not like I feel like I need an ebf badge as I have one.

So why am I so reluctant to try a bottle of formula?

I don't really know why I'm posting, I'm just trying to work it out and wondered if anyone has any insights. I'm trying to make myself feel better about this as it feels logically right but I'm emotionally not there at all (but I am sleep-deprived so my emotions are not a good guide at the moment)

BTW I do not need anyone to give me permission to give my baby formula. That is not what I'm asking for. I'm just trying to understand why my head is telling me to do it and my heart is telling me not to.


ChinUpChestOut Wed 12-Nov-14 14:17:29

I think there's some subconscious thing at work - I felt I was a terrible mother when I introduced formula at 9 weeks. I knew with my brain that DS would be fine with it, but I felt that I should try to "stick it out" with the BF, even though I couldn't produce enough to keep DS a) satisfied and b) sleeping more than 2-3 hours at a time. Looking back on how I struggled to keep up with DS makes me wonder how I even managed 9 weeks. (DS now 6'1" and 15yo.)

Remind yourself that you've already given DS a great start. And repeat. The emotional response is because you're sleep deprived. (Been there, done that). Later on, you will look back on this and think like me - "why was I worried?"

loudarts Wed 12-Nov-14 14:25:38

I tried to introduce a formula feed at 6 weeks and sat there crying while feeding Ds. It was supposed to make my life easier so not sure why I hated it. Ds bottle refused anyway so that didn't work. At 11 months he still refuses to drink from anything other than me.

Rox19 Wed 12-Nov-14 14:28:11

Youre prob asking as youre desperate re sleep deprivation and this is your last hope.

In my experience and others I know it doesn't work. Sort out the naps (look at a routine to work out what he is getting as may be sleeping too much in daytime), explain to people you are desperate so they take baby and you can go back to bed.

Usually only age improves bad sleepers I think or a better routine.

evertonmint Wed 12-Nov-14 14:43:14

Rox - I think you're right - my fear is that formula won't help his sleep a jot so I'll be wrecking ebf for no reason and still not getting any sleep.

My other option is to express my 1-2oz and leave him for a night with DH but then I suspect it will be highly distressing for the two of them and my sleep will come at too high a cost.

If he were 3mo I might feel less bad, but we're so close to solids it seems daft to introduce formula now.

bakingtins Wed 12-Nov-14 14:53:31

It's working for me. DD is 5.5m, I started a 10pm 'dream feed' bottle at 4m and she sleeps until about 5am which gives me one decent block of sleep and I can function for my older two. I did the same with DS1 and continued to BF until he was 16m, was not able to do it with Ds2 as he was CMPI and would not touch prescription formula. His sleep was awful until 18m (more to do with reflux than bottles though) and I was broken.
I felt terribly guilty, but 6 weeks on I'm happy with the decision. It's normal to feel guilty about everything as a parent particularly if you are compromising on what you believe to be best, but the whole family's needs have to be balanced out.

evertonmint Wed 12-Nov-14 15:01:53

Thanks bakingtins - it's helpful to hear a similar story, and yes it is about balancing out all our needs.

I could work ok his sleep while continuing to ebf but my reserves are at rock bottom so I don't have much energy to work on daytime naps (which currently involve me taking several long walks whenever DD is at nursery or slinging him in the house when she's here, both of which exhaust my exhausted body further!) let alone night waking as well. Perhaps a few nights with a few bottles would just give me that breathing space to rebuild my energy and tackle the ultimate problem which is his crap sleep, not his feeding.

evertonmint Wed 12-Nov-14 15:10:20

Bakingtins - like you i know i'm not planning to end bf (I mixed fed DS1 for most if the year I bf him and will bf this one until at least his birthday) - think that's why your post is reassuring for me smile

It's so hard balancing your own selfish need for sleep and the older DCs need for a less harassed mum with the baby's right to the best start, isn't it?

Chesterado Wed 12-Nov-14 15:13:40

We were in a very similar situation with ds last year. I felt terrible as dd had been ebf to 12 months but she was an awful sleeper and bottle refuser and I struggled terribly with sleep deprivation and depression until she was nearly two. When it looked like it was all going the same way with ds at 5 months my mum and DH insisted that he started having a bottle of formula from DH at 11pm and within a couple of weeks things were significantly better. I felt terribly guilty about it for a month and I still can't understand why. With hindsight it was a sensible and strategic decision and a turning point in his sleep - as others have mentioned you need the energy to deal with the whole family (and look after yourself). Good luck!

evertonmint Wed 12-Nov-14 15:25:46

Chinup - I'm sat here repeating your mantra to the boy "you've had the best start, now can I sleep please?". He's laughing grin

evertonmint Wed 12-Nov-14 15:32:51

I'm also worried it will work, that he'll start sleeping a 6 hour stretch and I'll wonder why I so stupidly didn't do this sooner!

ChinUpChestOut Wed 12-Nov-14 20:18:46

evertonmint you gotta love a baby with a sense of humour!! I think Chesterado has the key - it's DH who should do the bottle feed at night. Personally I think it's worth giving it a go - even if it's not so great the first night. And don't give yourself deadlines like "I'm going to introduce solids soon anyway" - you need some relief now and your DS needs to get some solid kip too. Do what you think is best for right now. And good luck.

Chalalala Wed 12-Nov-14 20:26:34

one bottle feed will most certainly not "wreck" your bf!

if it doesn't work, so what? go back to exclusively bfing, your milk production naturally adapts up and down.

Artistic Wed 12-Nov-14 21:17:59

Well done for ebf so far. Your body has been through a LOT in the past 9+5 months. If its asking for sleep, then you got to give it sleep. Couple of formula bottles (or even more) at 5m are definitely less important than your health & sanity. Don't think too much, just go for it!!

evertonmint Wed 12-Nov-14 21:46:49

Sat here in floods of tears as he woke up an hour after going to sleep and is still awake and chatting an hour later. Think this is becoming a no-brainer now as I cannot even cope with the minor mishap of a baby waking at 9pm without becoming hysterical. DH away with work until tomorrow, will muddle through until then and give a bottle a go then.
Thanks all. I'm heading to bed with the munchkin now.

rootypig Thu 13-Nov-14 07:31:56

You're suffering that age old cognitive affliction - you want to give him formula to improve a difficult situation. But the fact that the situation is not good is making you desperately cling to what you feel is - breastfeeding.

Not very well explained. There must be a word for it.

Anyway yes, it's a no brainer. DD enjoyed Hipp Organic at that age - her poos stayed nice and soft and yellowy. And the fact that a large pack is divided into two separate foil packs inside means it's suitable for the very limited mixed feeder - you don't have to chuck half of it out on the 28 day rule iyswim.


OwlCapone Thu 13-Nov-14 07:38:23

As you say, solids are only a few weeks away. My first two were weaned onto solids at 4 months, as per the guidelines, so 5 months is already an "improvement" on that.

I'm just trying to understand why my head is telling me to do it and my heart is telling me not to.

Because hearts and emotions aren't rational smile

bearwithspecs Thu 13-Nov-14 07:42:45

Nothing is rational when we are that sleep deprived.. Been there twice !!

Imeg Thu 13-Nov-14 11:22:51

I was surprised at how emotional I felt when I thought I might have to stop breastfeeding as baby wasn't gaining weight well, even though rationally I was quite happy to give formula. I think as well as the sleep deprivation there must be some hormonal effects, probably related to an evolutionary drive to feed the baby.
And maybe also a feeling of not being in control - feeling that you are being forced to use formula rather than deciding to use it because it would enable you to do xyz or you feel it would work for you for whatever other reason.

ChinUpChestOut Thu 13-Nov-14 19:21:53

Hi evertonmint - wondered how it was going today? Did you decide to go ahead and try a bottle of wine for yourself for DS? Really hoping you both get some sleep soon.....

evertonmint Thu 13-Nov-14 20:03:31

Thanks for checking in chin up, and for all the additional comments from everyone.

Had a reasonable night last night after the rubbish evening - 2 x 3 hour stretches with a 90 min feed/wakeful chunk in between. I got a good 2 hour nap into him today too (walked miles!)

DH just back from business trip so going to chat with him about it. Suspect we'll try a bottle tomorrow as he might be asleep soon (jetlag). I have bottles and formula in the house now!

Feeling ok about it but don't think I want to watch! That way I can pretend he's not really having it at all ;)

Thank you for the support. I didn't want it turning into a thread of people giving me permission as only I can do that. Instead you've all been understanding and thoughtful and given me lots to ruminate on. Really glad I started the thread.

I'll let you know how we get on.

evertonmint Fri 14-Nov-14 22:31:03

Last night was hideous. He slept for 45 mins after his 10.30pm feed so Id just dozed off but then was awake until at least 1.30 when I passed out with him next to me. Transferred him fast asleep to cot at 3 when I woke, then he woke at 4.30, and woke at 7, DD in at some point too. Hardly any sleep for me, all of it quite light/unsettled. I have been a zombie today.

So tonight DH has 3 cartons of Hipp and the baby, and I'm in the spare room. Fed him so he's very full and DH is trying to settle him (he's v unsettled tonight, not yet slept just dozed, boob not even working). I'm getting my head down and going to attempt to get as much uninterrupted sleep as I can. I've told DH to bring him for a feed if he refuses the bottle and obviously needs it, but then to take him away for settling or awake periods so I'm not disturbed too much.

Wish him luck and me sleep!

evertonmint Sat 15-Nov-14 09:44:21

Well that didn't work. He screamed (which he never does) until 12 when DH gave in, then spent 2.5 hours attached to my boob snoozing but screaming when he delatched himself. Then slept solidly for 3.5 hours then woke for the day.

He is so woefully underslept sad

Imeg Sat 15-Nov-14 10:41:18

Oh no, really sorry to hear it didn't work out for you.

rootypig Sun 16-Nov-14 16:59:29

Sorry it didn't work sad

Sorry, this sounds rather condescending, but with DD I always found it helped considering changes from her point of view. With this change, you're expecting DS to go from cuddling his mama all night, to not at all, in one fell swoop.

No judgement! no sleep made me psychotic. Just will help you to work out what to tweak to change the situation.

I would try introducing a bottle during the day, when he (and you) are less frazzled. I know you want sleep NOW, but you're going to have to build up to this.

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