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First time mum - night feeds(19 Posts)
Hi all, I'm a new first time Mum and in the absence of a Mum of my own to ask I'm just looking for some advice. My newborn is 2 weeks old. He is being combination fed by bottle as he has been unable to latch, although I am still working on this. So he has mainly expressed breast milk with formula top ups.
At the moment I am feeding him when he's hungry, but loosely every 3hrs- so- if he doesn't wake then I wake him every 3hrs during the day times. However I found the first few nights awful with the 2-3 hr feeds, and the lack of sleep (not helped by my having no sleep on the postnatal ward for 72hrs). I felt awful and really at rock bottom with the tiredness from having 2/3 separate hours sleep. I felt like this wasn't benefitting him or me and something needed to adjust. I've been reading things on here and seen that some people push feeds to 4 hrs at night, and others even leave the baby to wake up. (Not sure if I would feel comfortable doing that last one in case he didn't wake).
At this age is it feasible to do 4hrly feeds at night? Eg 12, 4 & 8? Or is there a better way? He doesn't wake up unless he's hungry, and generally sleeps well, but his feeds do take quite long, often an hour so by the time I've changed nappy, gone to get milk bottles, got milk to room temperature it can stretch to 75mins for the whole night feed, which with 3hrs doesn't leave much space.
Does this sound like a good idea or can you suggest any ideas?
Also, I know this sounds like a silly question, but when do things need to change again? None of my baby books really specify when the feedings at night start to get further apart. Not sure how long to expect this to go on for (the night feeds) eg 6weeks, 6months, 2years?) I'm sure people will have stories of their baby sleeping through the night from birth, and others still doing numerous night feeds into childhood, but what is the average expectation?
We always fed on demand and as daytime increased, nighttime feeds decreased (fully FF with a bottle of expressed when I had enough to offer).
Do you have a partner who could do feeds so you could go to bed early? I used to go to bed at 8 or 9 so I could get 4-5hours in one go and my husband stayed up later and did all the feeds till about midnight. I think if you're pumping you'd still need to be up to express during the night though so that's worth researching - maybe Kellymom or la leche league might have advice on that.
If his weight is fine and you haven't been told to wake to feed him, I would feed on demand. When he's hungry, he'll wake up and then you feed him. If you are bottle feeding and you have a partner around, your partner can easily take on part of the night feeds so you can get more sleep in a longer stretch. Even when I was bf, I went to bed at 8pm, dh took baby, woke me at 10pm for a feed, then I would hand them back and sleep til 1am. He would deal with everything else so I could get a bit of sleep early in the night, which made the rest of the night much easier. If you are offering bottles, then your partner could do a bottle during the night and then you could hopefully get closer to a 6 hour stretch.
Have you tried nipple shields? They allowed me to breastfeed when baby wouldn't latch in the early days. It's really time consuming pumping and bottle feeding in between everything else you need to do.
I wouldn't wake him up to be fed, unless you've been explicitly told to do that by a HV. He should probs be feeding every 2-3 hours and you're right, it does take about an hour once you've done everything. Like others have said, do you have a partner to share the work with? I used to breast feed around 7.30 then I'd go to sleep until midnight and my husband would give a bottle of formula around 10ish then I'd take over again from midnight to 6am, during which time I'd probs feed him twice, maybe 3 times if he had a bad night?
In terms of how long it goes on - that completely depends on the baby!! From about 2/3 months I was waking up twice a night to feed (around midnight/4am) then 8am when I got "up", so that was manageable. Not sure when it dropped to one feed at about 4am, but we stopped that at 9.5 months when I had to stop breast feeding for medical reasons. Initially we were going to replace with a bottle but after I stopped offering the breast he didn't wake up, and he's slept through most nights since then. He's now approaching 17 months. However we've also got friends whose (formula fed) babies slept through the night from 11/12 weeks, and friends whose babies don't sleep through now.
I was told no need to wake after 2 weeks if they are back to birth weight at least.
We generally demand feed all the time (breastfed 95% of the time) . But I try and feed every 2 hrs during the day if possible, and he feeds every hr in the evenings sometimes. Then he tends to do longer stretches overnight. I assume as he has been tanked up all day.
He is now 12 weeks and roughly can sleep 9pm-3am , quick 10 min feed, then sleeps until 6-7am. We don't wake him for the 3 am feed or morning, thats just roughly when he wakes.
I wouldn't leave 4hrs gaps daytime as not sure they will be able to take enough in 24hrs that way so will need more night wakings. At 2 weeks he naturally woke every 2-5hrs overnight, all random.
Oh and no need to change his nappy at every feed btw overnight. Overnight only change nappy if he has pooped. So that should speed up wake time also.
Can you get a plug in bottle warmer also for your bedroom? I assume all his feeds are in bottle from what you have written? So straight to fridge to get expressed milk bottle out as soon as he stirs, back into bedroom and in warmer. Then your back in bed asap and can feed him quicker.
Thanks for the advice. @Caspianberg good point about more frequent say feeds leading to less night feeds. The problem is he seems to poop every time so nappy always needs doing at night
We have also started seeing a bit of reflux the last 24 hours or so which I'm hoping won't complicate things.
With my first daughter (bottle fed) we took her camping when she was 8 weeks old...without an alarm we slept through until 8am...DD went to bed at 11pm...and stirred as we woke! I'd been waking her at 4am for a feed she didn't need! Ever since I've fed on demand...and found within 2 weeks baby has naturally settled into 4 hourly...had 2 children since (one FF, last one BF) and feeding on demand allowed me to sleep longer and therefore function better 🙂 I'm 30 weeks with no.4 so I hope I don't end up eating my words... 😂
Once he's regained birth weight it's fine to wait until he wakes up at night. You don't need to wake every 3 hours. If you are concerned then I would set an alarm for 5 hours past the last feed, but honestly I don't even think this is necessary
I only woke mine for feeds for the first 10 days, as that's when they were weighed to confirm they had regained their birth weight. After that I just let them sleep.
DS actually got to a 6-7 hour stretch by about 2 months, but then just as we were feeling smug the 4 month sleep regression hit and he didn't do in again until 2 years.
Between 7am and 7pm I fed every 3 hours. I woke dd to feed if she didn't wake herself.
From 7pm onwards I would swap to 4h. So I'd do a "dream feed" at 11pm, then hope she would sleep til 3am for another feed, then hope she would sleep til 7am for her first daytime feed.
Also, the night poos tend to stop around 8-12 weeks, when you're milk fully matures. Early on your milk contains a laxative to help get babies digestive system moving, so baby poos pretty much every time they feed. Once that stops night feeds get a bit quicker.
I only ever fed on demand, even at the beginning before she was up to birth weight. No one told us any different. She just woke up when she wanted a feed, which was every 2 hrs in the first couple of weeks.
Lots of good advice here OP. I second nipple shields if you want to try and improve baby's latch and if you can, ask your HV to help you with it too.
If you're concerned about what comes next I can recommend the 'wonder weeks' app which should keep you on track, just remember that all babies are different and the app is just a guide!
I'd be leaving baby to sleep at night now too. He'll wake you when he's hungry.
Thanks for this. I have tried Tommy Tippy nipple shields, which worked for a few seconds but then keep slipping off and he gets cross and frustrated! Does anyone else find they slip off? Are there better brands?
Medela shields worth trying.
Every 4 hours is fine for night feeds
Reflux can complicate sadly due to needing to hold upright after feed to avoid milk coming back up!
They start pooping slightly less often as the weeks go on so that should help with nappies!
Every four hours is totally fine at night. There is no way that baby with starve with the extra hours sleep.
Also please don’t feel selfish about sleep. Your baby needs sleep too! It’s important for development so let them have that extra hour and give yourself a teeny tiny break. X
I never ever woke either of mine for night feeds after we got home from the hospital (so around 5 days old). At night, I would wait until your baby wakes up. I FF and mine were a good weight so to begin with we timed feeds around every 4 hours. Keep an eye on the reflux. My thought is if you're feeding every 3 hours around the clock, it might just be spitting up excess milk.
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