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feeding more or less constantly with no sleeps in between - any advice please?!

(35 Posts)
plumcake Sun 14-Sep-08 09:07:05

Dear all - this is my first message on mumsnet and I hope someone might be able to reassure me! My baby is a week old and seems to be feeding constantly throughout the night without going down for any sleeps in between. Yesterday he slept from 6pm-9.30pm-ish. I then tried a 'night-time feed' at 10.30-11pm, and he fed happily for about 20 mins, and dozed off at the breast, but when I tried to put him down he was unsettled and seem to be still hungry - so cue changing and feeding him again... until 5am this morning when he finally fell asleep for an hour or so! Each time he feeds he seems to be getting a lot of milk, and has already gone over his birth weight... Am I doing something wrong? Could it possibly be normal for him to go so long - 7 or 8 hours - without sleeping properly? How can I encourage some kind of stretch of proper sleep in between feeds? Any suggestions would be really appreciated...

ninja Sun 14-Sep-08 09:10:28

I'm sure someone better qualified will come along soon. However, I think at this age it's quite normal to feed frequently and for long periods especially in the evening and it does settle down.

Good Luck!

poshtottie Sun 14-Sep-08 09:21:53

he is tiny and needs feeding frequently as his stomach is so small. It will get easier promise.

Bit early to think about sleep/feeding routines.

plumcake Sun 14-Sep-08 09:36:43

He IS so tiny, I know... I think I'm just exhausted and wondering / hoping that we will get some sleep at some point, sometime! Thank you for replying.

poshtottie Sun 14-Sep-08 09:41:36

plum, I remember my mil saying that I would never sleep the same now I have children.

When he is asleep get some rest yourself. Forget everything else.

lyrasilver Sun 14-Sep-08 09:56:35

Dont think you are doing anything wrong... he is gaining weight and feeding. My ds2 was like this, a hungry boy who fed very frequently! Just go with the flow, catch a rest when you can.

Habbibu Sun 14-Sep-08 10:02:51

plum, welcome to mumsnet. And congratulations! You're doing really well, it is really tiring, but it does get better. On the advice on HV, I tried settling dd in other ways rather than feeding when she was very small - wish I'd never listened to her! If I get to do it again (fingers crossed), I'd feed like you are doing certainly for the first few weeks - it's tiring, but a Lot less stressful. As he gets bigger his feeds will likely space out a bit.

Maria2007 Sun 14-Sep-08 10:51:26

Hi Plum

My baby is now 6 weeks, so I'm just a bit ahead of you In the first couple of weeks, especially in the first week, my boy too fed constantly. They do this to establish your milk supply, it's quite normal, & it DOES change. I know it's exhausting... but just hang in there. The thing you could also do is give a bottle of formula per day, if you're happy to do that, so that you get a tiny break & get some much needed sleep, which you need to recover after the labour... & also because your baby may be hungry & thus not sleeping because of that. I know giving formula is not generally encouraged, but we did it in the first week (gave 2 bottles of formula) & it was absolutely fine- our boy slept a few hours & gave us a break, & breastfeeding was easier afterwards. We haven't needed to give any formula since. Your milk supply will quickly increase, you'll see! And your baby's sleep will also improve very soon. I'm not talking about huge stretches of sleep, but he soon will be getting 3 hours of sleep, & you'll also be a bit more rested & recovered from the birth. Hang in there, these initial couple of weeks are by far the hardest! but they will soon pass.

plumcake Sun 14-Sep-08 13:30:09

Thank you so much for all the encouragement, it's so reassuring that this is normal - we will keep going! It's just that I'm also finding it hard to sleep even when he sleeps... But I'm sure I'll eventually get there!

Chequers Sun 14-Sep-08 14:09:13

My dd is still doing this at 5 weeks.

Chequers Sun 14-Sep-08 14:09:38

(learning to feed her lying down has saved my sanity).

SmugColditz Sun 14-Sep-08 14:15:34

Try to feed on your side in bed? Maybe this could help you get some sleep?

tiktok Sun 14-Sep-08 15:15:28

Giving formula in the first week is a serious risk to continued breastfeeding, though - clearly researched in Infant Feeding 2005.

It may have been ok for you, Maria, and it's great you felt it helped, but as you say in the rest of your post, plumcake's baby is behaving normally.

IlanaK Sun 14-Sep-08 16:50:43

My 8 week old feeds all night. The best thing to do is feed laying down on your side. That way, you sleep (it takes practise to fall asleep when feeding, but it does come with time). I could not tell you how often he feeds in the night, but I know that everytime I wake up (mostly) he is still attached to my breast. Periodically, I change sides, and my husband does a nappy change or two in the night, but I get to stay in bed all the time

plumcake Sun 14-Sep-08 17:39:29

I tested out feeding on my side this afternoon and it seemed to work! Thank you. The thing I find hard is relaxing enough so that I can sleep too - it's reassuring that it does come with time IlanaK. We still have some trouble latching on - it often takes a good few gos to get a good latch, which I think (hope?) is normal in such early days, but I think has made me feel more anxious in the nightfeeds...

madmouse Sun 14-Sep-08 18:47:49

You are doing great. I think that you may be the only one suffering sleep deprivation, you might see that your lo sneaks quite a few zzzzs while appearing to feed, then wake up and think nooooo i am starving and start all over again, not giving you a break.

But gaining on his birth weigt already is fab.

well done, I am sure it will get easier soon. Just forget about cooking/cleaning/anything and spend loads of time in bed together smile

plumcake Mon 15-Sep-08 09:19:22

Thanks for all your advice - we tried lying down to feed last night and it made a HUGE difference. DS was feeding about the same amount but I slept (a little bit!). Could I just ask another question? I seem to have about 10 seconds of sharp, toe-curling pain whenever he latches on which I have to 'breathe' through... I did have cracked nipples a few days ago, but they have since healed up and the nipple is not distorted in anyway after a feed, which makes me think latch is good. The pain is worse on one side than the other, but eases off once we're feeding. Anyone else had this? Thanks so much.

ILikeToMoveItMoveIt Mon 15-Sep-08 09:23:13

Plumcake - if you are sure the pain isn't from your cracked nipple, I would say it is your let down. My lo is a week old today and I'm experiencing painful letdown too. Like you I breathe through it and it's gone within about 5 seconds. With ds1 the painful let down went at about week 4, so I'm hoping for the same again this time.

Maria2007 Mon 15-Sep-08 09:31:25

TikTok- I'm sorry but can I ask, why would 1 bottle or 2 of formula be a SERIOUS risk to continued breastfeeding? I happen to have 3 friends with babies the age of my own baby who ended up with dehydrated babies in hospital. I also had a very hungry baby & giving him that formula meant he & I both relaxed, & my milk came in quicker. I simply do not accept that one bottle of formula- ONE- could ever present a serious risk! I think that's going over the top to be honest. Much worse if you ask me to have a veyr hungry baby & a very anxious mum (and even worse, a dehydrated baby)

Having said that, Plum, it seems like you're doing fantastically! Lying down & feeding has also helped me (in fact, I still do it)...

cockles Mon 15-Sep-08 09:39:53

Mine did this too but in about another week he did figure out that nighttime was for sleeping (ok he still woke up every 2-3 hours but at least slept between) The good thing is it is the night feeds that really prime your milk supply so you will have a great supply and that'll help all round. If you're not already, I'd just suggest keeping everything dark during the 'night' and not stimulating him or nappy changing unless needed.

GreenMonkies Mon 15-Sep-08 09:51:04

Two reasons why a bottle or two can make a difference.

There are others, like the baby will sleep for longer and miss breastfeeds which may lead to engorgement, which can lead to blocked ducts and/or mastitis, and there is also the psychological impact that a bottle can have on Mum's confidence, "see how much more settled s/he is on the formula, maybe my milk isn't good enough...." and so on.

Plumcake, he sounds totally normal, take to your bed with a good book or some DVD's and doze and feed and rest and recover. Get to know your new baby and listen to your instinct and keep him close (in your arms/on your chest preferabley). Learn his feeding cues (face pulling, mouthing, arm waving, leg kicking, crying is the last feeding cue!!) and just go with the flow.

Congratulations, enjoy!!

tiktok Mon 15-Sep-08 19:10:51

Maria, I only ever say things like this if I can back them up - I am not 'OTT' with saying formula in the first week presents a serious risk to breastfeeding. Of course you cannot predict what will happen with an indvidual baby, but Infant Feeding 2005 shows us that giving formula in hospital is a very strong predictor of stopping breastfeeding:

"Provision of supplementary formula or additional drinks was associated with an increased likelihood of stopping breastfeeding in the early weeks. By the end of the first week, 28% of breastfeeding mothers whose babies had been given one of these feeds had given up, compared with only eight per cent who breastfed exclusively in hospital. A similar differential was observed at two weeks (34% compared with 12%). "

So that is, more than a quarter of babies who had been given one supplementary feed are no longer breastfeeding at a week, compared with less than one in 10 babies who did not have anything but breastmilk. At two weeks, the baby who has had one supplementary feed in the first days is three times more likely to be fully formula fed than the baby who has had nothing but breastmilk.

To me, that is a serious risk.

In individual cases, it may of course be necessary to run this risk.

Maria2007 Tue 16-Sep-08 12:36:11

Tiktok- what you're saying is probably true... and yet I would be interested in seeing whether the women in this research were given breastfeeding support at the same time as having that one bottle. What I'm saying is, there's a big difference in just handing a woman a bottle & letting her get on with it (which often happens) without serious support/advice on bf... and it's another story altogether when the support & advice is there, but the bottle is given strategically, to calm the mother, soothe the baby's hunger etc. Don't you think there's a difference? I simply don't buy it that the bottle of formula ITSELF makes the difference. Rather, the existence or lack of support for breastfeeding surely plays the crucial role.

jeanjeannie Tue 16-Sep-08 16:06:49

Plumcake - I feel your pain sad DD2 is 15 weeks old and for the first 3 weeks it was full on - no sleep. I'd not really anticipated this as DD1 was prem and only mixed fed plus she slept a lot - so I was in such shock this time round shock

My coping stratagy was to get DP to do everything!! Seriously though - my newborn was a constant feeder and I thought there was something wrong. It was only through lurking on MN that I realised its normal!

That pain for the first minute or so was horrible but then it just disappeared - someone more knowledgable than me would know but most of my friends had it to some degree.

I took it one day at a time and tried to put no pressure on myself - steriliser and formula were on standby - and never been used. Now I blinkin love it grin

tiktok Tue 16-Sep-08 16:36:23

Maria, what I said is not 'probably true' - it's a direct quote from the Infant Feeding survey of 2005.

It's quantitative research, and in-depth exploration of support is not assessed, but we know from other research that support for breastfeeding is generally poor in hospital - it's reasonable to assume that handing a woman a bottle without support for continued breastfeeding will exacerbate the bottle's effects and I do think there is probably a difference between this and a 'strategic' use of formula..

However, but I really don't know. It may be the 'bottle itself' is more powerful than any of the support that might go with it, in some cases. I certainly don't know enough to suggest a bottle of formula (as you did) to another poster - the mother has to know the risks of giving formula to her continued breastfeeding, before she makes the choice to give one.

Sorry, you meant well, but anyone offering a bottle has to know that it could undermine her breastfeeding....and it's a serious risk.

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