Under fire for lack of routine and sleep deprived from feeds - help!(27 Posts)
Ok this is a long one as I am very tearful and anxious today. DS is knackering me out! He's 16 wks and pretty much exclusively breast fed - occasionally has a bottle of expressed or formula when I am out (rarely!!)
My partner seems to think it is time to stop feeding him on demand and try and establish more of a routine so he 'knows when to expect a feed/ nap etc'. He is also concerned about how shattered I am all the time. I am generally rubbish at routines but feel pretty useless about not managing one with DS. I am wondering if his fretting to be held for much of the time (taking it toll on me as he is big for his age) and recent wailing fits might be the cost. DS feeds roughly every 2 hours during the day and sometimes even demands again after only an hour which my partner sees as him 'snacking'. When I try and space out the feeds he often gets distressed. At night he sometimes goes from 8pm until 1pm before waking for a feed and then has one or two more feeds before 7am and the interrupted sleep is making me feel awful. In the last week or so he has been wailing for more after emptying both breasts in the evenings and at times seems to want to feed solely for comfort (especially from his teething pains) and to help him settle. I am also using a dummy at night and in his buggy. I generally feel that my DS is thriving and I have been happy following my instincts with him most of the time. However he had cholic as a newborn and still suffers with reflux and trapped wind/ stool so I spend long periods winding him/ doing massage as well. Also his regular vomiting makes me reluctant to give him massive feeds. I find it tough feeding him when he has just been terribly sick. I've tried gaviscon - he spits it out -and cranial osteopathy but still having probs. I'm also back to work full time in Jan so realise I probably need to change things if he is to adjust at all well to a childminder. I know there are many different issues here but would really appreciate some feedback as feel I am going a bit crazy with it all. Any thoughts re establishing a better routine, introducing top up formula feeds (so far chuffed to have avoided this), solving reflux etc
EmmyJo - your little boy has a very typical feeding pattern for a baby of his age. Feeding solely for comfort is a good thing - why wouldn't a little baby want to make the most of your snuggly, loving arms and the closeness he gets from feeding? Responding to him teaches him that he is loved and cared for, that his needs will be met, and research shows this style of response means babies are less likely to be whingy and whiney at 8 mths or so (if your partner needs chapter and verse on this, I can give you academic references!). They are less whiney as they have confidence in the world and can self-soothe and wait a little for attention
Are you sure you still need to spend hours winding and massaging? Would feeding and/or holding not do the trick? I understand about the massive vomitting, which is a nuisance, but is it more or less of a hassle than just giving him what he seems to want?
January - when you go to work - is ages away.
Top ups of formula risk
i) undermining your milk supply
ii) undermining you - as you are happy to be excl bf!
iii) being a hassle in themselves (buying the milk, preparing it, washing bottles and teats, giving the top up)
iv) affecting his reflux
Spacing out feeds makes him distressed - so why do it? I expect there are times when your partner wants a cuddle only an hour after he had the last one, or two cups of coffee or beers less than 2 hours apart...so what? We are all human, not robots
Good luck with this. Feeling confident it will not always be this way will help you, and him, I think.
If your DS is feeding every 2 hours then he hasa routine of sorts, what do you do between the feedings? does he sleep between feedings or just nap?
Could you write down a day by day page for the next 4 days of times he eats, was it a good feed or a distracted feed, when he slept, how long, what you did re going out and you will probably see a routine in there with a little flexibility, use this to fine tune you day.
The 'snacking' isn't much different from us having a meal then getting ourselves a drink! If the snack is short then he just needed a drink not a meal and who would want to be thirsty.
I would aim to go to bed when he did or by 9pm and then you have had a block of sleep, do you swaddle? he might be happier in a cuddle as he feels contained? and swaddling can aid this feeling.
Agree with Starlight - you aren't doing anything wrong! You have a thriving baby and you say that you've followed your instincts so far!
Is there a need to change? Are you getting proper support? What do your instincts say?
I remember an exercise I did at NCT AN classes - the teacher asked us to note down t what times we generally ate or drank.
Food or drink passes your lips pretty frequently - how long would you go without having even just a quick drink of water? And yet some people expect tiny babies to go 4 hours without even the smallest bit of liquid?
Young babies feed times can vary enormously - sometimes they are wanting a big feed, sometimes it is merely to quench a thirst (especially on hot days).
By feeding on demand you are doing exactly what your baby needs. And the fact that ds is thriving tells me you are doing a great job!
I sympathise with the tiredness, my ds has been like that as well, I can only urge you to nap when he does, and go to bed earlier!
I remember that stage so well, it was knackering and I felt despondent that everyone seemed to think I should have DS in a 'routine'. But it did pass with time, and I'm glad I carried on with the bf.
Would agree with Starlight and the others - get sleep when you can as this will help you feel better. DS used to do a similar pattern - a 5 hour stint first then waking several times before getting up time. I just had to get in some really early nights, and also did a bit of co-napping during the day (taking DS to bed with me).
I'm sure your DH is worried about you, but he can help out by doing stuff around the house so you don't have to worry about it, taking DS out for long walks at the weekend so you can catch up on sleep, that sort of thing. Those were the things I really appreciated my DH doing.
And January is a LONG way away, honestly - things will have changed so much for both of you by then
To repeat what everyone else has said, it sounds as if you are doing a fab job
Colic and reflux are horrible, on paper they don't sound that bad and are common, but the reality is so different and can be so knackering and exhausting.
Winding/massage are great.
As is frequent, but small feeds.
Also keep your son upright for 20 mins+ after feeds (i found over the shoulder, so he was straight helped)
Try to avoid bouncing after feeds
Tilting the cot slightly, so he isn't lying totally horizontally (only a little)
I tried following some well known routine 'gurus' and after 3 days, DS was in tears, I was in tears, cos he hadn't read the same book! Follow his lead and your 'routine' will fall into place.
How did you give him the Gaviscon? We found putting into DSs cheeks via syringe worked well (I don't think they can spit it out if it is squirted into cheeks).
HTH - good luck x
Hi, believe me, 16 weeks is a really AWFUL time. I don't know what happens then, I think it's a developmental thing, personally, but it is THE CLASSIC time for babies to become much, much more unsettled. That's why so many people give solids at this time (and often, like me, find it doesn't help at all). I suspect it is purely developmental, but it is a time when even 'good' babies (what are they?) start waking at night, crying more, being more demanding. And it is a nightmare. But the good news is, it often doesn't last. Once the 16 week thing is over (a couple of weeks) the baby will often settle down and sleep better and just be calmer.
I know it's horrific when you are in it, but this is almost certainly just a phase.
If you put 16 weeks into the MN archive you will see thousands of posts by end-of-tether mums of 16-week olds!
EmmyJo, you have had great advice. Feeding every 2 hrs is so normal. Maybe you are feeling outside pressure that he is supposed to go longer between feeds from people who only know about formula feeding?
My dd never went more than 1.5 - 2hrs between feeds during the day but after I learnt to relax about this, I realise that all it really took was for me to lift my top, pop her her and 5 mins later, everything was sweet once more.
I also found that napping with her in the afternoon a wonderful thing and then also would sometimes take a late evening nap with her at her bedtime too then I would get up for a couple more hours, do my thing a bit more refreshed and go to bed around 11 -12 pm.
I come from a culture where people take afternoon siestas (and evening siestas if they were planning to party till dawn) so I didn't feel like I had to stick to a traditional 'routine' for mum and baby.
As far as holding him, have you considered a Mei-tai? They are very simple to use and your baby is at a great age for the two of you to get loads of benefits out of it.
If you want to know more about them, I am happy to tell you more.
Chin up and most of all, you are a wonderful mummy already. It is that this is all new to you and you are getting outside vibes of what you and your baby are supposed to be doing that is making you anxious.
Feeling much better - thanks to you all. Ready to stand strong in the face of the routine/ ff majority again. Have had lack of other Mums around me who are doing the 'on demand' feeding and it has been tough to keep listening to my heart. So great to know others out there are letting their little ones set the pace and getting the rewards. The 16 wks thing makes so much sense as I've noticed massive changes in the last week in my DS. As you can probably tell going back to work in Jan is already filling me with dread so good to remember it is a whole 4 months away - thank God.
LIKESSLEEP - Did your DS have any probs with constipation from giving him gaviscon??
Emmy - I go back to work next week, ds is not feeding anywhere as frequently as he did when he was your ds's age.
I've never tried to force ds into a routine, and he has found his own rhythm. I know routines work for many people but they wouldn't for me, and I find that my ds is highly adaptable to unexpected events, and also much more comfortable slipping into the nursery routine.
I think you are doing really well if tired but trying to force a routine just won't work. Both my two got into their own routine of sleeping throu by themselves. Also you said baby (can't remember if it was dd or ds and too lazy to look eek!) was 16 weeks old have you thought about weaning? It might fill baby up a bit more making night times atleast easier. I started to wean dd at just before 4 months as 4 feeds in 3hrs was not working for me!
Emmyjo- just a thought- maybe get your iron levels checked. Sure your probably fine- but I REALLY wish I had known I was anemeic for months after the birth!
I had exactly the same awful routine when ds was that age. The difference when I was eating properly and taking iron tablets was unbelievable tho- same routine but I was so much better able to deal with it.
Look after yourself, eat well, and dont change what your instinct tells you your baby needs.
Yes, I think constipation is par for the course with Gaviscon (and it was made even worse with Ranitidine). Sometimes I questioned what is worse? That is why I gave him Gaviscon at his his sickiest times of the day only. Keeping him upright should help. I once read reflux is like a bottle without a lid, put it on its side and the liquids come back out again.
I made sure I drank orange juice - this seemed to counterbalance the constipation (to an extent). Breastfed babies have looser stools, so it is good you are breastfeeding, the constipation might be worse with formula.
Tummy massage can also help with constipation, as well as wind and colic. My HV showed me a couple of massages.
Good luck x
Hi EmmyJo, I feel for you, as dd was tiny when she came home (4lbs4oz) she fed every couple of hours during the day and 3-4 times at night for months. I think what kept me going was my mother's reminder that it would end, plus I just accepted that I could not do very much. I was not a routine person but actually around 5 months or so dd evolved a routine of her own.
From what I know re reflux, spacing out your ds feeds or topping him up so he has larger amounts might well make his vomiting worse.
Seeing frequent feeds as 'snacking' is something that might be appropriate to teaching an older child good social skills. But for a baby who is governed only by his physical needs for food, love and comfort? Bear in mind that the "experts" who first advocated routines from the 18th century on were mostly men and were mostly concerned with running foundling hospitals/orphanages, so feeding schedules were about convenience and time management. Go figure.
Ditto Starlight's advice re early weaning. There is a lot of evidence that weaning before 26 weeks can cause problems later, so they have changed the guidelines accordingly.
I think both my DDs got themselves into a routine of sorts around 6 months. By which I mean, they started to want their milk, sleep etc at a consistent time (with changes when teething etc of course.) I probably nudged the actual times to suit of course, but the underlying routine came naturally.
So plenty of time yet.
4 months is tough, hold on in there it gets better!
I'm so glad you posted this as dd2 is 14.5 weeks and doing just the same. I feel like I'm constantly feeding at the moment and was worrying about this snacking thing so the replies you got were a good reminder. DD1 was just the same but it's a bit harder now that daytime naps and boobie days when I just sit, eat and feed are off the agenda. Particularly since dd1 hates it when I bf dd2.
After problems getting dd1 to take a bottle, dd2 gets one bottle a day and rarely takes more than 60ml which just made me more convinced about the snacking but maybe our los know what is best for them and we should trust them. Good luck!
Your partner would do right to spend a little less time criticising you and a little more time supporting you. Babies are full on and it sounds like you are doing fabulously.
I never instigated a routine with dd and she naturally fell in to one. I now have a 17 week old and plan to do just the same.
her dp might just be worried about her and how tired she is? I know that'show my dp is with me. have gone and taken multivits as this thread reminded me I had bought some!
Just wanted to say that 4 months is the classic broken-sleep and growth spurt time so don't try now to space out feeds - your DS needs feeds more than ever in the next few weeks. If the feeds don't get any more spaced out then perhaps try something different - but just don't be tempted to wean before 6 months - it will not help!
The guidlines for weaning are 26 weeks but they are just that guidlines. And if you speak any decent hv they will tell you that each baby is different. There is a thread regarding early weaning on am I being unreasonable board. Both my children were weaned at 4mths and are both fit and healthy and happier for it. While you might not agree with my suggestion it is not a bad one as every child is different and only the mother knows when the time is right.
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