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advice needed... one bottle of formula at night or keep going with just breastfeeding? sooooo tired...

(23 Posts)
Bicnod Fri 26-Jun-09 10:00:35

Hello - I've been exclusively breastfeeding my son who is 8.5 weeks old. He jumped from the 50th to the 91st percentile putting on over 2lb in 2 weeks and feeds every 3 hours day and night. He is a very hungry baby and I'm so so so sooooooooo tired...

A bit of context - I have had nipple/breast thrush since he was less than 2 weeks old which has made breastfeeding incredibly painful (I was dreading every feed, crying as he latched on, thought I would have to give up - lots of tears, feeling guilty etc etc). Thrush is finally clearing up (thanks to daktarin and fluconazole) but the whole experience and keeping going for weeks in pain has left me feeling very drained.

I'm very very tired and my son wakes every 3 (sometime 3.5 hours) at night to feed. Various people have been harping on about giving him a bottle of formula at night and I finally caved in this week and gave him aptamil. He downed 225ml and slept for 4.5 hours.

Should I keep doing this? Or will my milk eventually be enough to keep him going for longer than 3.5 hours at night? I'm not sure how much more of feeling like a zombie I can take...

Thanks for reading this - your advice will be very much appreciated - I just don't really know what to do for the best.

Sheeta Fri 26-Jun-09 10:03:58

Hi, sure some other people will be along really soon but wanted to offer support.

You're doing brilliantly, and I remember how tiring it is in the early days, but from what I remember every 3 hours is pretty normal.

It WILL get easier, he WILL start to sleep more. Go easy on yourself and sleep whenever you can

nigglewiggle Fri 26-Jun-09 10:11:33

It sounds like you are doing a really good job. There is a BFing expert on here called Tiktok who will hopefully be along soon to offer you some really good practical help.

I sympathise with the thrush issue as I've had this too. What you may find is that now it is not painful to feed, you will be able to do it almost in your sleep and the regular feeding won't be so draining.

It does get better and with both of my DD's they had a bit of a feeding frenzy just before they started sleeping longer.

Is there anyone who can help to watch your DS in the day so that you can catch up on some sleep? Don't be afraid to ask.

Bicnod Fri 26-Jun-09 10:41:20

Thanks for your posts... it's so hard to know what is normal. i don't think i'm helped by the fact that every baby in my ante-natal group now sleeps at least 5 hours at night except mine!

the other thing that's contributing to my lack of sleep is that in the early hours (from 2am ish) when he is actually asleep he spends his time beetling around his moses basket making very loud straining noises as if trying to poo... this an go on for an hour and there's no way i can sleep through it... any experience of this?!

no-one to watch him during the day but DH helps a lot at weekends...

Sheeta Fri 26-Jun-09 10:45:35

Don't believe the groups! They all lie

I found out that when someone said her baby was sleeping through, what she actually meant was sleeping 6pm - 6am, and only waking 3 times in the night for foor hmm

You're doing a brilliant job, keep at it

It sounds like you've got BFing pretty established now - could you maybe express some milk for your DH to offer in the night to give you 6 hours straight sleep?

Sheeta Fri 26-Jun-09 10:45:55

food, not foor hmm

Sheeta Fri 26-Jun-09 10:46:57

oh, and about the noises - you'll learn to sleep through it, trust me grin

you Fri 26-Jun-09 10:52:54

Sorry you're having such crap sleep, it really is hard in the early days sad

Just fwiw, my DD is 14 weeks old and mostly ff, and still wakes every 3-4 hours throughout the night, so I don't think there's any guaruntee he'll be much better on the formula- some babies just need feeding through the night and 8 weeks is still very young.

How would you feel about co sleeping? Lots of bfing mums find this helps them to get much more sleep than they would do otherwise.

Hope someone else will be along to help you soon, I do sympathise. Lack of sleep is horrible, but ffing won't necessarily help. Your milk will be enough for him, but babies stomachs are only tiny and they're designed to eat littl and often. Could you express milk for DH/P to offer in a bottle one evening so you can go to bed early?

Glad your thrush is clearing up smile

nigglewiggle Fri 26-Jun-09 11:02:06

Was going to say that I had read that it is a myth that formula helps babies sleep through, but I was hoping that someone more knowledgeable who can cite the research would come along.

I exc BF both of my DD's, one slept through from 9 weeks (really exceptional) the second took a lot longer. She got her first teeth at 16 weeks and I suspect this was disturbing her. DD1 was 8 months before any teeth appeared. So all babies are different and their sleep can be disturbed by different factors. I agree that some mums lie wink.

Has your DS been making the straining noises only since you gave him formula, or was he doing that before? I believe it can make some babies constipated. It might be causing his waking rather than helping him sleep.

mags98 Fri 26-Jun-09 12:21:47

I give my DS a bottle at night and it certainly helps. We have had various problems which meant he has had the bottle since a couple of days old but we have continued with the single bottle. we do this for three reasons

1. He does the horrendous evening cluster feeding to 'tank himself up' and this is very wearing and my boobs are so sore by 11 pm it lets me have a break

2. It lets DH feed him and have some bonding time

3. I know that having a bottle is not really much different in terms of calories than a breastfeed, however due to the various issues I am still anxious about how much he gets, so at least with the bottle we know he is certainly getting a good feed in the evening. I would give him EBM if I could get the act together to express it now, but I think a single bottle isn't going to do him any harm to be honest.

He generally has it about 11-12 and then gets t0 sleep about 12.30, he then sleeps till about 5 usually (although it was 4 last night) so thats not too bad I think!

I know also there will be people on here who will say to you don't give up, exclively the boob etc, but sometimes just having that little break can completely transform your whole approach. I know for sure if i hadn't done it I would have got totally fed up and quit breast feeding completely by now. And he doesn't have nipple confusion (I don't beleive in that) and still feeds perfectly well the rest of the time.

mags98 Fri 26-Jun-09 12:25:22

Sorry should have said, DS is 7 weeks.

suwoo Fri 26-Jun-09 12:32:44

Please don't fall into the trap of thinking that formula is the magic answer. My DS is 2.6 and only started sleeping through, 3 weeks ago. He was still waking (and having cows milk) every 3 hours or so. I don't say that to depress you but just to give you some perspective that yes mums do lie exaggerate and not all babies sleep for lng stretches and formula can make little or no difference to this.

Best of luck continuing to bf.

littleduck Fri 26-Jun-09 13:41:18

Bicnod m

Have been wondering how you are - sorry to hear you are feeling so tired but glad to hear your little chap is thriving, you are clearly doing a great job of nourishing him!

DD has been exclusively breastfed but we did offer her some formula last night for the first time as she seemed very thirsty and it felt as if she had drunk me dry and I had no milk of my own left to offer her. She didn't like it and took about 0.5 oz after much faffing about so I doubt such a small amount made any difference, she woke at the usual time anyway for her next feed.

I have heard stories from girls in my antenatal group that formula has made their babies sleep a bit longer at night but I think it may just depend on the baby and whether they are actually ready in themselves to start to sleep for a bit longer, in which case I guess they would do it either with breastmilk or formula.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do, if you decide to carry on with exclusive breastfeeding could you express some so that your DH could perhaps give DS a bottle in the night sometimes to give you a little break?

Re: the noises - DD is a frightfully noisy sleeper too and makes extraordinary noises at various stages during the night. I thought she must be awake when I first heard her but no, I checked numerous times and she is making the noises in her sleep. I have resorted to home made earplugs made out of bits of cotton wool! They block out the bulk of the noise but if she wakes up and start to fuss or cry I can still hear her and it has meant that I get a little bit more sleep.

Take care and hope things get easier soon

jellybeans Fri 26-Jun-09 13:49:55

Hi my DS was up feeding all night until about 10 weeks (11lbs) when he went 5 hrs and eventually 6-8 hrs. Formula doesn't make a difference in my experience as switched DD to ff thinking it would help and it was the exact same but too late to get my supply back. However, you have got to do what works for you. Many people give a daily bottle and still bf with no probs but it can be a risk to the supply and babies can prefer it so maybe worth getting some advice first.

Bicnod Fri 26-Jun-09 14:50:07

Thank you so much for all your responses... I've just been to get DS's first set of immunisations done (I'm not sure who was more traumatised - me or him!) and had him weighed - he's now 14lb 7oz and on the 99th percentile - so I guess I just have a very hungry baby.

I think after reading all your posts I'm going to try and stick with the bf and try again with the expressing so DH can give him a bottle a couple of times a week to give me a break. I tried expressing before but it hurt so much (because of the thrush) that I haven't tried since - hence the formula. But thrush is now clearing up so maybe I should try again.

Can anyone tell me when is the best time to express?

If the expressing doesn't work out, would it affect my milk supply/put me at risk of mastitis if we gave him a bottle of formula just a couple of times a week?

I think I'm putting too much pressure on myself to be 'normal' and get out and about every day and stay up and go to bed when DH does but maybe I just need to take it a bit easier... it's really hard when everyone else seems to be coping so much better than you.

Littleduck - so lovely to hear from you - let's meet up for a coffee in Kingston soon, I'd love to meet your little one x

Sheeta Fri 26-Jun-09 15:06:13

I think first thing in the morning is generally the best time to express, after the morning feed.

I'm sure a bottle a couple of times a week wouldn't do any harm?

Have a few early nights, sleep as much as you can and re-charge your batteries, and get DH to make you lots of lovely food

MatNanPlus Fri 26-Jun-09 15:10:49

Just wanted to add that in the past I have given either Expressed or formula to a baby and it made no difference to the times she would wake for her next feed.

I do think you need to give yourself a break on being ' normal' as you put it, get extrea sleep when you can.

In the night and the morning are better times to express.

Babymakes4 Fri 26-Jun-09 15:29:09

Just wanted to add that I BF my first DD for r months, including a late night formula feed from about 6 weeks on but this was because I just never had enough milk at this time (always began the feed on the breast but always had to top-up). It never made any difference to supply for other feeds and I did manage to drop the formula for a few weeks at some point but then needed it again). She slept through at 5 1/2 months and has always been a great sleeper since then. My second DD I only bf for 3 months and I really struggled with the exhaustion. She is only 6 montsh so I feel your pain when you say how tired you are! She was FF from 3 months and she slept through at 5 months and is now similar to her sister. I guess what I found was that the formula didn't make them sleep any better, but it did make a big difference to the exhaustion. I know lots of women don't need this break and prefer to commit totally to the breast, which is great, but I think if you are sobbing with exhaustion and would sell anything you own for an unbroken stretch of sleep there is nothing wrong with a bit of formula! Also, I could never express for some reason but I found i would always get slightly more out if I was near to the baby (some hormonal thing I presume?.

Babymakes4 Fri 26-Jun-09 15:29:49

Oh and my two DDs both born on the 99th centile and stayed there so VERY HUNGRY!

littleduck Fri 26-Jun-09 20:08:05


Bicnod - would love to see you sometime for coffee in Kingston and to meet your little boy when you are feeling a bit more rested. Have already driven down once with DD to go to John Lewis so know that it is do-able - well she didn't protest too much last time anyway!

Don't put pressure on yourself to be 'normal'. Everyone else is probably not coping half as well as they make out or as you think they are. Get out and about when you feel like it and go back to bed after feeds in the day and go to bed early at night if that's what you need to do to feel like you're back in the land of the living again. I felt rubbish yesterday so went back to bed after DD's morning feed and did the same this morning.

I have heard that mornings are quite a good time to express but someone like Tiktok would know best.

Look after yourself - DS is clearly thriving and you are doing a great job!

Bicnod Tue 07-Jul-09 09:41:54

on my knees with this 3 times a night feeding... have posted in the sleep topic here - any advice gratefully received...

redtabby Thu 09-Jul-09 20:49:13

I have a little prem/IUGR baby, five weeks old now and only 2.8kg (was 1.9kg at birth), and I have found that a bottle of Aptamil First last thing at night (given by my DH, and usually mixed with some expressed breast milk if I have managed to get it together)does seem to help him stay down for longer most nights (not all but most), so I then get about four and a half hours of sleep, what with DH doing the feed and then the baby sleeping, which is great.

Maybe it is a myth that the formula is helping in this, but it does seem to me that when I give DH a bottle of just ebm to feed baby, he does not stay down for as long (and in fact, does not want to go to sleep, resyulting in us both spending much of the night awake). Not a scientifuc study by any means but just our observations so far!

redtabby Thu 09-Jul-09 20:51:21

PS sorry about all the spelling errors, four and a half hours is still not a lot of sleep!

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