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Breastfeeding at night - getting fed up! - advice please!!

(22 Posts)
monthlymayhem Fri 25-Jul-08 11:12:40

LO is 18 weeks and up until 10 weeks we had a pretty torrid time establishing breastfeeding, but we got there in the end and we're still going. LO has always gulped down feeds in five minutes flat, maybe 10 mins at night when sleepy. Up until 12 weeks ish he had been feeding at 11pm and going through to 3 or 4 am, but for the last 6 weeks he has started wanting to feed every 1.5-2 hours at night and I'm really starting to feel like a bit of a zombie.

Thought it was a growth spurt at first, but it's been going on far too long. During the day he still feeds but I'm pretty sure he's snacking and taking most of his milk at night. So, I'm not sure how to change this around. I've tried offering more feeds during the day but he gets annoyed if he's not hungry, and he also gets so distracted during the day at the slightest thing.

I'm also not keen on co-sleeping as I twitch and jerk alot when I fall asleep and I'm scared he would end up black and blue!

A few people have suggested that he must be hungry and I should try weaning him earlier?

Any tips or advice on how to get him to eat more during the day and less at night would be appreciated!!

talilac Fri 25-Jul-08 11:33:46

Well I think there are a couple of key night feeds here to look at if you want to shift his feeding pattern.

First of all, is he feeding himself to sleep at the beginning of the night? If so, make sure that he doesn't fall asleep while feeding. Sleepy, but not asleep is what you want. Then sing him a quiet song or have a bedtime story together before you put him down and let him settle himself off to sleep.

Secondly, try and make sure this bedtime feed is a good big one, offer 2, or even 3 sides if necessary to keep him going.

The next feed to address is the very first one after he wakes up. If its only after 1.5/2hrs then I'd be really surprised if he's hungry, its probably either habit or a sleep association. Ie, when he gets to a lighter sleep phase he wants to have a suckle to help him go back off to sleep.

You have two ways of cutting out this feed, you can either go cold turkey - ie, not feed him but cuddle him and shhh him until he gets fed up and goes back to sleep. You won't be popular though, he'll probably protest loudly the first couple of nights until he gets used to it. Or you cut down his feeding time over a few nights by a few minutes each time and then cut it out altogether.

In theory, this should have a knock on effect to the next waking, and you should find after a few days of this that he only wakes for a feed if he's actually hungry...

During the day, if you can take him to a quiet room for feeds, that should help. I find that swapping sides a couple of times also helps.

Disclaimer - this all worked for me, but all babies are different so it might not suit your LO!

talilac Fri 25-Jul-08 11:36:10

Oh and by the way I think the early weaning advice is poor!

littleducks Fri 25-Jul-08 11:42:50

I wouldn't have thought he is too hungry, perhaps he is thirsty? ds is feeding more often, he seems to want to have just the foremilk as stops feeding when the hindmilk comes as its not as refreshing!

Not sure if these things will fix your problem but i have found it helps to:

wake up and feed baby early, so the days starts and you can cram the feeds into thye day hours

have calm time in early evening (from 7pm ish) with dim light

as dark as possible at night, we have a very elaborate blackout system that is a pain to put up but does really help ds to resettle

when feeding for a short while to encourage him to take more milk offer the other side when he finishes (even if it means your constantly switching) when he gets accustomed to taking more milk the juggling boobs thing stops itself!

hope that helps, sorry if its obvious and what you have been doing already

monthlymayhem Fri 25-Jul-08 11:52:31

Thanks both for the quick advice! Will give those tips a go.

Generally we put him down at 8-8.30ish and he has bath, lullaby, feed until he's drowsy and then goes into his cot sleepy but still awake. He's generally fairly good at drifting off to sleep himself. I then give him a dream feed around 10.30 so he doesn't wake up for it, and it's from there that the frequent feeding begins e.g. last night he then had feeds at 12.30, 02.30, 4am, 5.10 and then decided he wanted to be up at 05.30am!

Will keep trying the switching sides as he definitely seems to want the fast letdown and gets fed up once it stops (he's also stopped liking feeding lying down recently which is I think because the flow is slower). I think not having black out blinds is definitely not helping so will need to try that too.

I'm also wondering if I should be expressing more after each feed during the day just to make sure I keep up a good supply during the day while he's not feeding so well?

thisisyesterday Fri 25-Jul-08 11:54:22

argh, do not wean him early.
my ds2 is 9 months and still feeds at least every 2 hrs at night.
starting solids made NO difference.

sometimes it's just for comfort. but remember, his comfort isn't any less important than his hunger is it? in fact, I'd say it's more important. and your LO is still very small

that doesn't mean you can't try and change things though.

try fdoing daytime feeds somewhere dark and quiet so he isn't distracted. and keep offering . if you can then have a few days at home and just offer every 30-60 mins and see how you go,. even if he only takes a little bit each time then it's more than he'd have had otherwise

thisisyesterday Fri 25-Jul-08 11:55:08

yes and it could be thirst, esp with the weather like this.

does seem to be quite common though, the morning cluster feeding.

mears Fri 25-Jul-08 11:58:28

How about cutting out the dream feed? He may not actually need it and it may conversely make him waken for more.

ThingOne Fri 25-Jul-08 12:01:48

Agree that introducing solids does not necessarily lead to better sleep. It had no effect on either of my boys at all. Breastmilk has more calories than any early weaning foods so he's not going to get more calories from babyrice or mush.

I can sympathise, as both my boys slept well until about three months and got worse until about four months and it then lasted a while. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with them or you though - it's a whether you want to put up with it issue.

VictorianSqualor Fri 25-Jul-08 12:10:46

Please don't wean early, it's likely it won't make any difference and I'm sure you wouldn't be able to forgive yourself if in ten years time your child had crohns disease or another related issue that could be blamed on early weaning whether or not it was the weaning that caused it.

I'm not great at co-sleeping either so we sidecar, the cot has one side removed and it is attached to our bed, this way when he wakes for feeding I just pull him over in a haze and then drift back off, normally rewaking when he is asleep and pushing him back.

Most mornings I have no idea how many times he has fed and he is always in his cot rather than our bed so it works really well for us.

DS has also been waking a lot more for short feeds (thirst again I think).

I'd cut out the dreamfeed, possibly making the bedtime slightly later? DS2 sleeps better with bed at 9pmish than 8, but of course it's all down to your own personal way. Try putting a fan in your room to keep him cool, the noise can also help sleep.

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 25-Jul-08 12:14:00

Message withdrawn

VictorianSqualor Fri 25-Jul-08 12:23:09

(This is what I put on all threads questioning early weaning, just to make sure anyone reading and considering is aware of the riskssmile)

The research behind weaning shows that when born baby's stomachs are permeable, to allow them to absorb the milk easier to digest. Only milk should be entering the stomach when it is permeable to avoid possible allergies or stomach/digestion problems in later life.

Somewhere between 17-26 weeks the stomach becomes unpermeable, and 'seals' which is when the baby is physically internally ready for solids. Unfortunately we can't tell which baby is ready at 17 weeks, and which is ready at 26. That's why they say to wait.

It has been suggested though that once your baby can sit unaided, grab food, put it in their mouth, chew and swallow that they are likely to be ready internally, until then nature wouldn't allow us to be developmentally ready and we would fail at some point in the process.

This is the school of thought behind the BLW research which suggests that you should allow the baby to determine when they are ready for food.

</end>

This morning DS was sat on my lap whilst I ate my breakfast, trying to grab everything, but he was grabbing indiscriminately, he was just grabbing rather than grabbing food to eat because he knew it was food and wanted some iyswim, so even though it may seem there are 'signs' they are open to misinterpretation.

Notanexcitingname Fri 25-Jul-08 12:50:07

I can only share my experience (while agreeing with VS all the way wink). DS went from sleeping through at 12 weeks, to waking hourly by 18 weeks. He'd resettled for DH, as much as the boob, but he still woke. This continued for a month, then was replaced by 4am starts. At 6 months normailty was regained.

I don't think it's a feeding issue, I think it's a sleep/development thing (lots of brain development at this age), and personally I found it best to go with teh flow rathyer than get stressed. DH felt he needed to be doing something, so I gave him the project wink (it made no difference!)

talilac Fri 25-Jul-08 12:52:41

Oh, I found cutting the dream feed solved the later night wakings for DD2.

It was almost as if giving her a dreamfeed primed her stomach for another feed a few hours later, iyswim.

Try cutting it, see what happens?

monthlymayhem Fri 25-Jul-08 18:16:49

Thanks for all of the info and suggestions, they are really helpful. Will certainly try cutting out the dream feed and see if it makes a difference. LO has had really tiny feeds today with exception of his 5pm feed which seemed better, and nappies have also been noticeably drier, so am preparing myself for lots of feeding tonight!

I also hadn't thought about him waking due to thirst and perhaps being connected with our room being too warm, which it definitely has been over the last few weeks.

VS - thanks also for the info on early weaning, will have ammunition next time someone makes that suggestion

VictorianSqualor Fri 25-Jul-08 18:30:01

No problem, I try to make sure I can let anyone who doesn't already know understand but don't want to sound all preachy, people always take offence and it turns into a slanging match but that's not what I want, just for you to be informed so you can make your own decision.
Good luck with cutting out the dreamfeedsmile

turtle23 Fri 25-Jul-08 18:45:10

Hi Monly...us too...he's sleeping 7-139, then 230, 330, 430, 600. Grr. We're trying very hard to just smile and cuddle at the mo. I cut out dream feed as all it did was make nappy wetter and need to change him. Didn't make a damn bit of difference.

turtle23 Fri 25-Jul-08 18:45:34

monthly. Silly laptop keys stick

VictorianSqualor Fri 25-Jul-08 18:47:04

oh turtlesad
You really have had/are having a time of it!
Well done for persevering!
I take it you're both leaving baby to settle for a few minutes before you feed?

monthlymayhem Fri 25-Jul-08 18:47:33

Hi Turtle Our March babies are certainly keeping us busy, hope the night wakenings start to improve for you too!

turtle23 Fri 25-Jul-08 19:57:22

Have left him until the squawks become full-on hysterics, but it's the same regardless every night. Am caving after first sounds now as he will ALWAYS have a five minute feed and go straight back down. On the other hand, he stands/sits/stands for about 80% of the waking day, rolls for 10% and grabs the rest so am guessing his little brain (and body) are desperate for fuel. Have tried giving him formula at night. Makes no difference except for me being swollen.

charitas Sat 26-Jul-08 08:56:24

Definately second getting the fan, helps my 18wk old drift off to sleep, but tbh by 3am any room with two adults in and a baby is probably pretty warm unless you have platial housing , unlike us. Mine has been up more than usual in the hot weather which I am trying to see as a positive. Ie he is not going to get dehydrated if I demand feed so can safely ignore my mothers dement.ed childcare suggestions - quote if they wake up hungry early morning if you give them water it will fill their tummy and they'll gradually wake later. What my babe's hungry so I should walk to the kitchen faff about with cooled boiled water with no repeat no calories instead of just sleepily cuddling him while he feeds. Sorry for hijack didn't realise I was so annoyed with her

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