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Help! Breast and routine.....

(36 Posts)
mmmmarmite Tue 29-Jul-08 20:05:11

Hi...hope I make sense in this post as am bit confused. Due in 4 weeks and really want to breastfeed, tho am determined not to be bullied or made to feel bad if it doesnt work out!! I'm really keen to get a good routine established and my recent 'breastfeeding workshop' grin kept going on about it being all up to baby. I'm wondering how to breastfeed and get a good routine working, I'm quite open to the idea of 'combined' feeding. Two friends who have had lo's recently have solely bottle-fed and had angels who have slept thru the night at 5 weeks which is obviously very appealing.....So my question is can you work the breast feeding thing with a good sleeper, help a confused 1st timer!!!! Many thanks.

onwardandupward Tue 29-Jul-08 20:22:31

A new born baby has a stomach the size of a walnut. They aren't designed to go lots of hours without milk. Sleeping through the night isn't really healthy as young as 5 weeks, afaik, although it's more common in bottle fed babies (because cow's milk is so much harder to digest - they have quite different poo from breastfed babies)

If you're worried about getting enough sleep, then I'd recommend you do some research about co-sleeping and just take your baby to bed and sleep while you feed them. You won't care how many times a night they feed then! (Deborah Jackson's Three in a Bed is the classic book, there is also information at DRSEARS and several co-sleeping conversations going on in the "sleep" bit of this message board.

Most tiny babies don't really do "routine" to start with, tbh. Bottle or breast. All the advice now is that you feed them when they want it, and they sleep when they need to. The best advice I was given when I first became a mother was: "sleep whenever the baby does".

Yes, breastfeeding can work with a baby who sleeps peacefully. Most easily with co-sleeping, or baby in a moses basket right next to your bed so you can scoop them up, with pillows arranged so you can doze while they feed.

But please don't expect your baby to sleep undisturbed through the night when they are tiny. Some do, some don't, however they are fed. It's not to do with whether they are "good" or not, it's to do with how big their tummy is, and how much comfort and reassurance they need from you (remember, they've had your heart beat as a constant sound track for 9 months. Night time breastfeeding can be about continuing that reassurance as well - some people call the first 3 months the "fourth trimester")

Greedygirl Tue 29-Jul-08 20:27:30

Well I found that rather than a routine as such you fall into a rhythm! So our routine was feeding every 2-3 hours (excluding growth spurts) and cluster feeding in the evening for a while. Since about 13 weeks he has gone to bed between 7 & 8 and wakes approx once a night for a feed, sometimes more (depending on teeth etc) I don't know if you feel that that is a good nights sleep but he is very content and chilled and I am surprised at how much I enjoy breast-feeding. BUT... all this is not really much use because your LO will find their own unique rhythm grin!

In my post-natal group we were a mixture of breast/bottle feeders and there did not seem to be any correlation between the good sleepers and either breast or bottle.

Hope I haven't confused you further - congratulations and good luck!

Crunchie Tue 29-Jul-08 20:34:39

I bf my dd2 and did 'gently direct' her to a routine. Basically I did what my mum suggested. I fed her, and then if she cried I didn't automtically feed her again, I would check everything else first IYKWIM. eg Change her nappy, play with her, cuddle her etc. She naturally had a 2 - 3 hr routine which after bout 3 weeks became a 3 hrly routine.

IMHO I feel that a lot of new mums who want to BF whip out the boob the minute they hear a wimper. They assume the baby must be hungry and try that first. I simply took the other approach and assumed if she had fed less than 2 hours previously then it was unlikely to be hunger, t was probably something else.

So doing as MY mun said, don't use the breast as a first resort they get used to snacking and that it a viscous cycle and they never actuially 'fill up' and this is what causes IMHO grazers who are constantly feeding.

BTW this is diffeent from cluster feeding, found after about 8 weeks DD would feed at 6, 8 and then at 10, but then sleep for a good 5 - 6 hours.

CantSleepWontSleep Tue 29-Jul-08 20:38:40

Please forget routine for the first few weeks at least. If you mix feed from the word go you will very soon be bottle feeding, as you won't be able to establish your breast milk supply properly.

No/very little correlation between breast v bottle and sleeping through v not. It's just pot luck and down to the individual baby (lots of threads on MN to confirm this).

BouncingTurtle Tue 29-Jul-08 20:39:16

A routine that you and little one fall into naturally, IMO will be more robust than one that is artifically induced. And both you and your db will be more adaptable.
My tip is not to clock watch. When my ds wakes up, I check him and feed him if necessary and then go back to bed. The nights I don't clock watch I honestly can't recall how many times I have woken up, as I'm generally half asleep!
I co-sleep some of the time and that also helps - get one of the midwives to show you how to feed lying down very useful for feeding in the night.
Make sure your DP can help with this - in the early days, my DH got my DS to latch on when I was asleep! Utter bliss!
Remember though it is only a few months of your life and it does get better. However don't take my word for it - DS still hasn't slept through and he is 7mos shock
Don't let that put you off
Oh and if you don't fancy co-sleeping, why not consider a sidecar cot?

Congratulations, and I hope the rest of your pgcy goes smoothly!

pudding25 Tue 29-Jul-08 20:41:01

Ok, I may be shouted down here but I disagree. I am breastfeeding and have had my dd in a routine since her first week. There have been many hiccups along the way but she eats and sleeps in a pretty good routine each day. I know many people hate her but we have loosly followed Gina Ford. She is impossible to follw strictly but I think her ideas for when a baby should eat and sleep are good as long as you don't think you have to stick to them rigidly.

I do agree though that it is not good for a 5 wk baby to be sleeping through. I find it strange that they can but what we are doing is is. DD is 11 wks.
She wakes up around 7am and I feed her. She has a nap for 45 mins at around 9am. She feeds about 10.30am and then sleeps from around 12-2.30 (she is getting better at this). She feeds about 2.30 and then a split feed at 5pm then 6pm and then sleeps from 7-10pm. She then feeds and usually sleeps until 4.30am and then feeds.

She still wakes up once in the night but you get used to it.

I always feed her out with this times if I think she is hungry.

So you can follow a routine with a young baby. I know loads of people who do and BF (but don't expect the baby to sleep through the night so young).

Also, you don't need to co-sleep (unless you want to) to get your baby to sleep and you to sleep. My DD sleeps in her room during the day and evening naps and in our room at night.
Obviously, if you want to co sleep and BF on demand, then that is fine but if you want to BF and have a routine, then it can be done.
But remember, it is not going to happen from day 1 and all babies are different. Good luck

mmmmarmite Tue 29-Jul-08 20:57:01

Thanks so much everyone for the advice. Believe it or not I'm fairly well versed in most things but have just got very muddled over this. I appreciate that no 2 bab's are the same and that sleeping thru is unrealsitic early on (in fact 3 hours on the trot at he moment sounds blissful!!) More than anything I want a happy, healthy baby. TBH I have a close family member who did everything on demand incl bfeeding and I found watching her draining....interrupted dinners, never going to bed with her dp,not going out (ever), up a lot in the night etc now the dc's are young children, gorgeous abut still have no routine and I think this was started right from the beginning which frightens me. I don't really want to co-sleep routinely but, again, have no problem with feeding lying down at night and dozing.Anyway, sorry for rambling, these things have certainly given me things to think about.

tiktok Tue 29-Jul-08 21:01:46

marmite - combined feeding runs a high risk of curtailing your breastfeeding...that's the main drawback of it.

Breastfeeding babies often do reach a predictable pattern, as the posts here indicate.

Sleeping through at 5 weeks is not normally physiological.

pudding's description of what her baby is doing at 11 weeks clearly suits her and her baby and you too may reach something that suits you both as well.

Having an open mind and staying flexible really does help

Greedygirl Tue 29-Jul-08 21:05:13

LOL mmmmarmite, I too am usually well-informed about most things but was completely clueless about breast-feeding and absolutely don't understand the mysterious art of making bottles up which probably part of the reason I persevered with BF! FWIW I have fed on demand but we still have a routine of sorts when it comes to bedtime etc. You sound like you have it sorted!

mmmmarmite Tue 29-Jul-08 21:12:07

Thanks good to know!!!

Dawnie6577 Tue 29-Jul-08 21:43:16

i think give up all control initially at least. i got so stressed after a couple of months thinking 'we should be in a routine now', that i was putting undue pressure on myself.
we had 12 weeks of bad colic, but DS has slept through ever since (he is now 9 months) and I breastfed for 5 months and still breastfeed 3 out of 4 feeds a day.
i tried the 'baby whisperer', getting DS to be 'active' after a feed, when he just wanted to sleep. he then got so overtired, he wouldn't sleep, but would cry, with me crying along side him! i gave up after 2 days and just followed his cues from thereon.
our own pattern developed from there ... with a few hiccups along the way!
ps yes the sleep deprivation is totally crap, but again, just sleep whenever you can and take all offers of help (washing, cooking meals etc etc)!
pps breastfeeding is tough, but so worth it in the end

babyOcho Tue 29-Jul-08 21:51:33

marmite - don't let people swept up in that 'good sleeper' thing. When your baby i ready to sleep longer in the night she will. Treat each night time feed as a chance for another cuddle.

BTW - my nephew at 7 months was FF and was waking 3 times a night for a feed.

TheProvincialLady Tue 29-Jul-08 21:58:16

I absolutely don't mean to be patronising, but no matter what you plan and what you find exhausting to watch in other people at the moment, NOTHING can prepare you for how you will feel when your baby is born. I had such a shock. I thought babies needed routines and mothers needed time to themselves - well some do, but it turned out that my baby was not the routine type and I was not the mother I thought I would be either. I ended up being very baby-led in my whole approach to parenting, and still am.

Not to say that there is anything wrong with either approach, but I could have saved myself a lot of heartache in the first few months if I had relaxed and trusted my instincts rather than feeling I was doing everything wrong and 'should' have been putting the baby down, in a routine etc.

I am expecting DC2 in December and this time I will go with the flow - if that means I go for the routine etc then fine, if I am the same as I was with DS then that is fine too. But I don't think I can plan ahead too much because babies have a habit of bringing chaos and confusion with themgrin

caribee Tue 29-Jul-08 22:07:27

"Two friends who have had lo's recently have solely bottle-fed and had angels who have slept thru the night at 5 weeks"

A note of warning: Many parents lie or bend the truth when it comes to talking about their baby's sleep patterns.

Maybe your friends haven't (I am not suggesting they have) But keep that in the back of your mind, irregardless of what kind of sleep pattern your baby adopts.

chipmonkey Tue 29-Jul-08 23:35:12

Ds4 has just started sleeping through the night at 12 weeks, he is fully bf. But he is big for his age and I suspect must drink a lot of milk at a feed because if I skip a feed and express instead at that time, I have no trouble getting 8oz and babies are supposedly more efficient than pumps.

Wisknit Wed 30-Jul-08 08:19:29

Depends on your baby I think. My 2 were completely different. One resisted anything vaguely like a pattern the other settled into his own rhythm naturally. then again I'm not one for routines myself. Prefer to be able to just do stuff.

Notanexcitingname Wed 30-Jul-08 09:33:15

I second provinciallady. Motherhood is really sometihng you can't plan for.

If it might help to here of a breastfeeding, non routine experience that didn't end up in the sort parenting experience you describe of your family member; my DS was always fed on demand, always attended to at night, and he slept through the night at 11 weeks. As did two of his friends, who were parented the same way. Maybe it's something in the water round my way wink.

He developed his own routine later on when we started to do things and he was more aware-I didn't really want routine (it interferes with the lunch dates, dahlink wink)

In the interest of honesty I should add that sleep wasn't great between 4 and 6 months, and frankly, breastfeeding was a lifesaver. Why walk up and down with a fractious baby for an hour when you can shove a boob at them and be back in bed 15 minutes later?

becklespeckle Wed 30-Jul-08 09:46:04

I bf all my DCs (3) on demand, was usually 3-4 hourly and they were all sleeping through the night by 13 weeks and before that would only wake once. Like some others if they cried when they were not 'due' a feed then I would try other things first before feeding. I am aware I have been very lucky!

As a rough survey of my friends it really made no difference to sleep whether the babies were breastfed or bottlefed but in my experience bfing was far easier as there is no preparation to be done and the milk is ready as soon as baby wants it! Good luck!

littlemisssplendid Thu 31-Jul-08 12:22:10

I fed on demand (loads) for the first 10 weeks and then decided to gently push her into a routine (it was either this or give up completely). We now get up at 7 and she feeds around 7,10,1,4 and 7 (give or take half on hour). She usually wakes up once through the night 2/3ish for another feed. It has given me my life back as I now have a rough idea of when she is due a feed and can organise things around that.

I agree with becklespeckle that if she cries and a feed is not due then I try other things first and if they don't work then I realise she is having an extra hungry day.

Probably best to feed on demand at first to get your supply sorted. Just 'survive' the first couple of months and then think about routine.

moondog Thu 31-Jul-08 12:27:37

Mmmarmite, It'ssad that you seem to have amegative view of breastfeeding. .

moondog Thu 31-Jul-08 12:28:18

Iwish you couldhave seen me, I went out lots expressed, drank and ate what Iwanted andslept well despite the 'demand' thing.

moondog Thu 31-Jul-08 12:28:31

I hate that word anyway as Ithink it casts atiny baby's normal needsin abad light.

noolia Thu 31-Jul-08 12:28:53

Haven't read all posts. My experience is that it is certainly possible to bf to a routine. I demand fed for about a fortnight and then gradually stretched the gaps between feeds. Then at about 10 weeks I 'went with the flow' and recorded exactly what she did for a week and it turns out that she naturally went into a 3 hour routine so i just 'fixed' those times. I feed her at the same times every day, it's like she has a clock in her tummy. After a 10.30 feed she slept till 7am from about 2 weeks 9but she doesn't really sleep in the day0.
Good luck!

Puddlet Thu 31-Jul-08 15:07:30

All the information I received on breastfeeding before the baby was born stressed the importance of feeding on demand - so although I liked the idea of a routine I wasn't expecting to have one for the first few weeks/ months. What surprised me was that Ellie didn't wake to feed regularly during the day - she would sleep in 5 or 6 hour stretches. In the evening she would then cry for hours and refuse to feed. So after a few days of this I realised that I actually needed to wake her to feed during the day so that she wouldn't be so miserable later on. And it really did help. So I think it is worth bearing in mind that some babies don't "demand" enough and sometimes you have to prompt them to feed.

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