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Help me, exhausted (breastfeeding)!

(15 Posts)
StrawberryLeaf Fri 20-May-16 08:45:59

Dd2 is 11 months, she wakes 3-4 times a night to feed, sometimes taking ages to go back down. She's never had a bottle, we don't cosleep.

I'm going back to work full time in 3 weeks (DH will be home during the day). All came to a head last night when I left DH with the kids (asleep after bedtime) to go and visit a friend who has had a terrible bereavement, not something I could rush away from.

So, she woke up and screamed bloody murder for 3 hours, it's evident she has no idea how to put herself to sleep without being breastfed.

I had a nightmare breastfeeding Dd1 so this time I read all the books and went for an attachment parenting style, basically every squeak she made I fed her, she's happy and content in all other aspects apart from her inability to sleep. I really regret not introducing a dummy.

I'm dreading going back to work because I'm sure she's going to do the reverse cycling thing and feed all bloody night and I'll drop down from exhaustion through no sleep and demanding job!

Saying all that I've loved breastfeeding and my ideal would be to feed her morning and night but I can't see us ever getting to that point.

Can anyone offer some advice?

Nan0second Fri 20-May-16 08:58:23

It sounds like she needs to feed to sleep every time.
You have a few options.
1. Carry on (not what I did!!)
2. Stop feeding to sleep and get her to learn to fall asleep without the breast. Phased return is hard but will sort the problem within 3 nights.
3. Jay Gordon night weaning method (google it) - usually takes about 10 days. Needs your husband really as it will be a lot quicker that way (when they can't smell the milk!)
4. Gradually reduce the time you spend at each night feed - but it doesn't sound like this is a good issue, it sounds like it's a self settling issue.

I used phased return to solve the self settling issue (took 72 mins on the first night but then things got 100% better) and then decreased the time spent feeding each night once it was only a food issue. I have my sanity back and once night weaned (10.5months), my husband now shares any night wake ups so 2-3x a week I am guaranteed 7 hours sleep (I breast feed 4x a day at 11.5months)

StrawberryLeaf Fri 20-May-16 10:31:05

Nanosecond thanks so much for your really helpful reply, lots of things there to go and Google.

That's what I would like to achieve, a position where I can continue breastfeeding but other people can settle her.

Thank you star

queenofthepirates Fri 20-May-16 10:40:30

I found the good sleep guide by angela henderson really useful. One tip was to tuck a bit of cloth in your bra during the day and then give it to them at night. My 5yo DD still won't sleep without her bit of cloth but she does sleep! Cloth no longer tucked down my bra I might add.

Nan0second Fri 20-May-16 11:09:04

I also used a lot of techniques in the "what worked for us" post on this board. DD still finds sleep difficult, but having sleep means we now have fun days and calm nights...
I thought I was getting PND - turns out it was 'just' severe sleep deprivation...

Miffyandme Mon 23-May-16 03:16:33

Strawberry I hope you don't mind me jumping on your thread but I am having the same issue to the point of crying in the middle of the night wishing I was no longer feeding. I am so sleep deprived I feel like my personality has changed.
Nan0, what is phased return? Is it when you leave them for periods of time? Is it like controlled crying?

Nan0second Mon 23-May-16 10:46:53

Yes. I tried gradual retreat but my baby was just too distracted being able to see me! She has always struggled to sleep even as a newborn (screamed in the car, wouldn't sleep in buggy until she was 5 months old and then only if she's flat with the hood fully over and walking in a straight line!)

She was spending hours screaming as she couldn't fall asleep on the breast and would become increasingly irate and exhausted every single night.
So, yes I fed her, clean nappy, 'usual' bed time routine, then into bed (took dummy away too as that was making things worse as well), then went back at 2,4,6,8,8 minutes... Patted her, talked to her for about a minute, left.
It took 72 minutes. It changed our lives. She immediately stopped waking every 90mins and started waking twice a night to feed. I was then able to slowly night wean her over the next 2 months and use the 'what worked for us' sleep thread to maintain things when teething, crawling and walking got in the way. She now will nap in the cot or even car (occasionally) and although she isn't the best sleeper, she does sleep through 2x a week and the rest of the time will have one short wake up.
I feel 100x better and now cope. She doesn't whinge all the time any more either and grins and smiles and plays!

Miffyandme Mon 23-May-16 12:02:25

Thanks Nan0 - did you have to do the same timed thing when putting her down in the cot after the night feeds?

Nan0second Mon 23-May-16 15:42:46

Yes but only that first night. After that I was able to shush her and she settled once she wasn't hungry any more! I then weaned down the milk by shortening one feed at a time (fed for shorter time periods, knocked a minute off per night, then one side, then she slept longer). Once I was down to 1 feed, I changed to a bottle and cut it down an oz at a time! Once she slept through 3x in a row, I never gave milk again between 11 and 5... (Most nights it's from 7pm and 6am but growth spurts get in the way!).
I should have done it more quickly in retrospect but she is cows milk protein allergic and I was worried about calcium intake...

Nan0second Mon 23-May-16 15:44:51

I would say though that she always whinges herself to sleep, even now. If you try to cuddle her she gets more distressed so I have concluded that this is how she winds down.
In the night, we give her 10mins before we go in (unless she is very distressed, which is incredibly rare) as 75% of the time she will go back to sleep by herself.

Miffyandme Mon 23-May-16 19:00:19

Thank you Nan0

StrawberryLeaf Mon 23-May-16 20:51:35

Thanks for all the advice, really helpful and welcome Miffy the more in the sleep deprived club the better!

I had a better couple of nights, ive been trying to do a bit more shush/pat, see what tonight brings!

Miffyandme Wed 25-May-16 08:24:53

Strawberry, hope things continue to improve for you. Don't regret not introducing a dummy - I tried so hard with a dummy but she has never taken one. Whereas dummies worked really well with my older daughter!

Dontfencemein Wed 25-May-16 15:31:36

I was in similar place with DS1. I stopped feeding him immediately before bed (I started feeding him downstairs before bath) but would sit by his cot at the start of the night with my hand on his cheek. I think this gave him a sense of the physical closeness of breastfeeding. I also cut down on the length of night feeds by one minute every three nights.

It was hard and we had some grim nights but if you are really consistent, it can be done.

I left DS in nursery at the age of 10 months, something I dreaded as he would never take bottle, and would not take expressed milk either. I remember several people telling me that he would survive (they will not starve themselves at that age), and he did survive. I used to feed him in the car as soon as I picked him up, and then fed him before bed and first thing inv the morning.

I think I was back in work for six weeks or so before I started reducing the night feeds. I did not want him to have too many changes at once, and I wanted him to get used to the new daycare arrangement before turning his nights upside down!

Good luck going back to work.

jennywest224 Fri 27-May-16 20:05:14

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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