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Breadtfeeding and co-sleeping. Was I wrong all along?

(43 Posts)
bunny85 Thu 14-Apr-16 09:51:50

Hello. I just need to get this off my chest. I'm so exhausted I can barely think straight. I'm EBF and co-sleeping with my 5 months old son. When I was pregnant, I read lots of books which all said that breastfeeding and co-sleeping with your baby is very good for them, both physically and emotionally, and this is why I thought it was the way to go. The sleep issue has always been there from day one, but we thought he'd overgrow it. Then when that never happened, I thought ok 4 month sleep regression must be coming. Now he's 5 months old and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, what is more people (other mummies I made friends with) tell me this is because of BF and co-sleeping that he doesn't sleep well, apparently these babies wake much more often. All their babies either sleep through, or wake twice very briefly, in their cots, have a bath and a bottle in the evening and drift off by themselves. I can't help but thinking have I made a permanent rod for my own back? My son doesn't take a dummy/bottle anymore. I just realised I haven't even described my problem yet. He goes to bed at around 7pm after a bath. I feed him to sleep lying down and sneak away after he's asleep. He then keeps waking every 10-15mins for a few times until finally goes to sleep deeply (I feed him again every time). He then would wake every 1.5-2.5h through the night which is fine as I'm used to it now, but lately he's taken to play every single night for exactly 2h before going back to sleep. He coos, squeals and laughs and is very loud. We tried ignoring him, playing with him to make him tired quicker, nothing works. It happens at different time each night. Then up every 1.5-2h again. How do I stop that? He hasn't been like this before and am sure he knows the difference between day and night by now. Has anyone experienced this? Is it because of BF and co-sleeping? Is there anything I can do to stop it? I'm so so very tired and so is my husband who works a lot but helps me nevertheless. I just feel so sorry for him.
Thanks for getting this far, sorry I've rambled quite a bit..

ElspethFlashman Thu 14-Apr-16 10:02:20

Well the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result so you have to change something, if only for yourself.

Co sleeping is not for everyone. After a month I needed to stop as the claustrophobia was really getting to me. I was much much happier with him in his own cot.

1northernfairy Thu 14-Apr-16 10:16:36

No advice here but I share your pain. I too am starting to doubt the co-sleeping & ebf combination. I'm starting to think that none of our family are benefiting from bed sharing :-( but I know to change it is gonna involve so much energy and patience that I don't have.

You poor thing flowers, sorry I can't offer advice. I've also noticed so many friends who have baby waking once or twice for a quick feed then back into cot. I've just posted about our situation for suggestions. I'm sure somebody more knowledgeable will come along to offer advice for you lil nocturnal chatterbox!

Pteranodon Thu 14-Apr-16 10:30:41

I bf and coslept with two children. I definitely gave up on getting back up in the evenings, staying in bed and partner joined me there to chat/relax/watch tv with headphones. Babies stayed asleep with us next to them.

I haven't had the waking to play thing regularly, it happened once in a blue moon. Is your baby/are you getting out in the day, seeing other people? 5-6mo is often a time they start to look for more stimulation I think, nothing fancy, watching older kids play, watching you chat with friends, having a ride on the bus, a splash of their toes at the edge of a paddling pool etc. Attention on the outside world can mean less feeding too, making up for it at night when there's less going on.

MingZillas Thu 14-Apr-16 10:35:30

Yes I've been in exactly the same situation! I thought the same as you, that I'd made a rod for my own back. Dd was waking up every 1 to 2 hours and I wanted to cry all the time I was so shattered.

But it got better. Honestly. She's 21 months old now and once asleep she sleeps through generally, on her own as well. I never thought it would happen. I think teething played a big part as she was in pain.

I wouldn't have done it any differently as she needed me at the time. You will know best for your family, but despite the horrendous exhaustion I knew I couldn't leave my baby to cry.

People lie as well so other mum's that you know might be telling porkies that their LO's are sleeping well!

ISaySteadyOn Thu 14-Apr-16 10:39:48

I found when mine were like that, it turned out they were teething. The constant activity also signalled teething as they were trying to move away from the pain. Is this a possibility?

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 14-Apr-16 10:42:06

Some babies just don't sleep very well, and wouldn't sleep very well no matter what you did. My DS was bf up to 6 months and we co-slept, he was a poor sleeper. When we stopped bf (which was for other reasons) he was still a poor sleeper.

So please don't think it's your 'approach' that's wrong. Although of course you can change that at any time, it's not a 'rule'.

That said, there still may be things you can do to improve his sleep while still BF and co-sleeping. I think if you can try to teach him to self-settle when you first take him up at night, then you're essentially teaching him a skill which (eventually) he'll use when he wakes up later on, if that makes sense.

We found the a book called the No Cry Sleep Solution helpful. It's all very long ago (DS is 10) but we slowly, slowly, built up to gradual withdrawal, all very gently, till eventually we could put him down when he was drowsy and he'd fall asleep himself.

Tend also to agree that more stimulation during the day may help the waking/playing cycle -- but that's hard to do when you're shattered!

I'm sure the experts will be along to help soon, but I just wanted to say you aren't doing anything wrong and everyone else is probably telling porkies too

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 14-Apr-16 10:42:49

Teeth! Of course. God, you really do forget stuff don't you? grin

LovelyFriend Thu 14-Apr-16 10:46:44

I BF & co-slept with 2 DC.

Once woke every 3-4 hours for 3 years, the other pretty much slept 11pm-7am from 2 weeks old. So I don't believe it is the BF/Co-sleeping that is the cause - babies are different. You could be FF and have baby in cot and have this issue too (friends of mine did).

Now you baby is getting a bit older they should soon be able to BF themselves in the night without you barely needing to wake up smile

Ninjagogo Thu 14-Apr-16 10:47:09

Hi, I co slept and bf with all 3 of mine (still do with the youngest). Teething, cognitive development, napping too close to bed time can all interfere with sleeping. Have you started introducing solids yet? If too late in the day that can have an impact. Your DC is still very young, it does get better, promise grin

ISaySteadyOn Thu 14-Apr-16 11:26:51

If he is teething and in pain from it, he will want a lot of bfing because he knows that that is comforting so far from you being wrong, he wants you because you've been doing it right.

Practical advice now if it helps: He could be teething even if you can't see teeth yet. His jaw and gums have to prepare for the teeth and that is probably pretty uncomfortable. Mine all had bright red cheeks and dribbled a lot. They also had colds and v runny poos.
These all signalled teething. Does your DS have any of that?
I also found it helpful when they were teething to give them a dose of Calpol before bedtime and then bf them to sleep. The Calpol dulled the pain and allowed them to have a good long feed which helped them to sleep longer. And fwiw, 5 months is still v. young. Hope that helps a little bit.

Emtwizzle Thu 14-Apr-16 12:10:19

Hi Bunny,

I am also co sleeping & EBF with my 6 month old. She wakes anywhere between 3-5 times a night. She has also had a few nights recently where she was completely awake gurgling and kicking - very annoying.
I have more of an issue with her napping during the day at the moment - she's a catnapper!!. So I have just accepted night time, as I think she's pretty normal.
However every 1.5 - 2 hours sounds incredibly frustrating. Have you tried not feeding him to sleep?
I have also been feeding my LO to sleep and I think it may be the reason she's a cat napper. So over the last couple of days I have been taking her off the boob early and rocking her and then putting her down. I have only been at it for a couple of days and there have been some tears shed on both sides. I am still figuring out what is going to work as a plan to continue with to slowly try and get to where I want to be, but I haven't given in yet. Big learning curve!
One thing I have learnt is if you are going to change anything about your sleep routine make sure you never do it when they are overtired!!! Worse thing ever.
Good luck

Emtwizzle Thu 14-Apr-16 12:12:14

Another thing to add, I am still bfing when she wakes in the night, It's just the initial put down after the bed time routine that I am not feeding to sleep for

bunny85 Thu 14-Apr-16 15:07:31

Elspeth, suggesting that I'm insane isn't that helpful I'm afraid.

Thanks to everyone else.

Pteranodon, yes we go out for a walk in the park daily. We also get some guests every now and again, our friends or other mummies with babies that I made friends with recently. You are very right about him needing more stimulation, he started refusing sleeping in his pram too, he wants to be held and look around instead.

MingZillas, so helpful to hear that your DD is sleeping through now. Gives me hope. I'm the same, no way I could let him cry, I can't handle that.

ISay, now that I come to think about it, it may be the reason. He's drooling loads and chews on his fingers constantly and his poos are very runny. And of course he wants boob very often esp at night..The only thing he doesn't have is bright red cheeks. But maybe really it's the teeth...

Lonny, I'm reading No Cry Sleep Solution at the moment, half way through. I'm already implementing some of the ideas given in the book, haven't seen the result just yet but the book says it may take good couple of weeks..

LovelyFriend, that would be ideal, but, at the risk of sounding very daft, how could I make it happen? He needs my help to find the nipple at the moment. Should I leave a bed light on so he can see? However when he roots for it his eyes are always closed anyway..he's always half asleep

Ninjagogo, no solids yet, and he doesn't nap in late afternoon that much. Never close to bed time. I'm inclined to think it's the development as well since he's just started doing a whole lot of new skills and is very very interested in everything around him.

Emtwizzle, my son is also a catnapper. Lately he's been fighting me on every single nap though. As for night wakings, it used to be more of 2.5-3h before, which does make it around 4-5 times a night (I consider night from the moment I go to bed myselfgrin), which I agree is normal and don't mind it. But lately it's been more often plus the playtime of 2h straight every night is something I cannot cope with confused

ElspethFlashman Thu 14-Apr-16 17:45:22

Dude it's a famous quote from Albert Einstein - it means things don't change unless you do something different. I wasn't actually suggesting you're insane. hmm

Best of luck.

bunny85 Thu 14-Apr-16 18:04:19

Thanks and same to you.

ISaySteadyOn Thu 14-Apr-16 18:39:16

He doesn't need to have all the symptoms to be teething. I would say it mostly likely is that based on what you said especially the chewing on his fingers part.

FWIW, I posted something similar 5 years ago when DD1 was 4 months old wondering if teething was possible in a 16 week old.

And you are doing brilliantly. Sympathy for the exhaustion though. I remember it well.

CobsAhoy Thu 14-Apr-16 21:17:09

Hi Bunny,

I have a 6.5mo EBF and co-sleeping baby. Her sleep has been pretty erratic since birth, on a good night she will feed/comfort nurse 1/2 times, on a bad night it will be more like 6/7 times, so far Ive had about 5 good nights since she was born (😐), but the average lot is about 4 times a night.

I don't really have any advice, apart from non of my LOs sleep habits have been particularly permanent, and as soon as one issue disappears another quickly materialises! I do remember her having a couple of weeks around 5 months where she would wake in the night and want to play with us, we didn't do anything apart from trying to keep our responses to a minimum so she was bored back to sleep! She doesn't do this anymore, I imagine this is because it was a phase, probably as a result of a developmental leap, rather than because of anything we did.

Hopefully your LO will grow out of it soon, with my DD her sleep started to settle at around 6mo (naps got longer and she stopped fighting all sleep, still uses me as a human dummy throughout the night though).

Hope you feel better soon.

Dimestorediamond Thu 14-Apr-16 23:02:50

I EBF my DD while trying to get her to sleep in a Moses basket for the first 5 months. She would wake to be fed every 2 hours or so but it would take about an hour to get her back to sleep each time. I was completely exhausted and fell asleep with her in bed a few times which was a concern since my bed was not set up for bed sharing. Eventually I gave up, put the mattress on the floor and started bed sharing properly. She still woke every 2 hours or so but I hardly woke up myself and she would feed and go back to sleep. It was the best decision I could have made at that point. I know it was just the way DD is - she is still a poor sleeper at 2yo. I do think EBF babies wake more through the night, but I doubt co-sleeping as made things worse. I know that doesn't help much. Sorry!

bunny85 Fri 15-Apr-16 09:22:10

ISay, thanks for your encouragement. Yes, exhaustion is terrible but if I know it's temporary and things are bound to improve, I'll try and stick with the way things are in terms of co-sleeping.

CobsAhoy, fully agree with everything you said. We've also had a handful of very good nights but mostly up 4-5 times a night is a usual. And 100% agree with habits that keep changing, my son goes through phases of different behaviour that last 1-2 weeks, at first I used to panic as I thought omg is it how it's going to be, but now I figured whenever something new arises (good or bad alike) I know most likely it'll be over just as soon as I've gotten used to it. Now we are having this nighttime playfulness and I'm hoping he'll grow out of it. No doubts it's all related to development. Its being a FTM with zero previous experience with babies makes everything a revelation for me!

Dimestore, I know what you mean by co-sleeping being the best decision at that point, this is just how we started, too. My initial plan was for him to sleep in a chicco next2me crib which is a compromise between co-sleeping and a separate crib. However it still meant I woke up every 2h and once asleep he's then inevitably wake up again during the transfer, so to speak. So the crib now serves us as a convenient bedside table confused My dream is to be able to sleep as you describe, with him helping himself to the boob and me barely waking. So far it hasn't been possible. This constant sucking wakes me no matter what, and he wouldn't let me turn away/change my position etc as he is up instantly and wants boob back in sad My back and shoulders hurt. His idea of a perfect night sleep is to have a boob in his mouth ALL NIGHT LONG. I mean, is it even normal? Last night was another night from hell. I'm so broken and can't even talk to my baby as have no energy. I know they recommend speaking to babies...

Mrscog Fri 15-Apr-16 09:28:02

I co slept with both of mine until around 5/6 months. I did find that they slept better at that age away from me - I think there comes a point where they don't necessarily need you to be right there, but if you are, when they stir they sense you/milk/boobs and decide to have a snack, rather than just chaining into the next sleep cycle.

Also, mine both responded well to loud music when trying to self settle - it needed to be really quite loud, and not lullaby crap either - ours liked David Bowie, hardcore club music, radiohead - something with bass and a good beat. It seemed to stop them from screaming and helped them 'zone out'.

lenibose Fri 15-Apr-16 09:39:57

At this point (5/6 months) my son would have done the same. So I decided to be a bit tough and break the habit. I set a time between which I knew I didn't want to feed (having made sure that he was fed at other times and keeping a diary to reassure myself that I was feeding him enough in the day time). Then between 10-4 I refused to feed him or let him have my nipple in his mouth. The first night he screamed, I was right there, shushing him, soothing him, but refusing to give him the boob. It was horrendous. Nights 2 and 3 were a bit better but lots of wake ups and crying. But both DH and I stuck through it a bit. We cuddled, we kissed, we offered reassurance in the dark but refused to feed. By night 4 he was waking up twice. I think if I remember nights 6/7 were again a bit bad (woke up 4/5 times but settled very quickly) and by night 12 he was waking up a bit, grumbling to himself, and then going back to sleep between 10-4. We then continued to co-sleep for a year but because I wasn't feeding him constantly, it didn't feel quite as bad.

Then at one year, I moved him into his cot at the foot of our bed. Again, same thing. Holding him, lots of reassurance etc. Cried 10 mins on night 1. 3 mins on night 2 and then slept in his cot at the foot of our bed. Then around age 2 we moved him into his own room because we figured that DH's snoring was disturbing him and he has been happy there ever since.

I'll be honest, there will be some tears. He's used to something and this is his only way of demanding that. But we both reasoned that we were there, we were not abandoning him, both DH and I were literally next to him, holding him and shushing him, just that we were refusing to give him my nipple in his mouth. It was a tough couple of weeks because I was still exhausted at first, but it made a huge difference. In my head I reasoned that it MIGHT get better, but it might not, and if the arrangement wasn't working for me, I was going to change it. I still liked co-sleeping and for the 4 am feed it was easier to co-sleep and feed, so I didn't want to change that, so I didn't.

Artandco Fri 15-Apr-16 09:46:14

I co slept and ebf both. However we still had 'rules' and a routine

Bedtime - never took ours up before us under 1 year. Saves you going up and down and wasting evening. They just slept on floor or on us in living area as and when. Took them to bed with us when we went at 10-11pm

Feeding- they both were ebf. But that doesn't mean fed every time they woke. At 5 months they would get fed at 10-11pm, they I wouldn't feed again for any wakings before 4am. If they woke before 4am Dh and I took turns to settle without feeding. I think they should be able to go 5hrs overnight after 4 month if fed on demand all day.

Could you try similar? Give yourself a cut off. So if he's waking every 2 hrs now and feeding, reduce. Don't feed more than every 3 hrs the first week. So if he's fed at 10pm, don't feed again until at least 1am. If he wakes at midnight then he needs to be settled by one of you without feeding ( ideally Dh as boobs not an option). Once he can be settled without feeding then increase the gap to only every 4 or 5 hrs overnight feeding.

So in your routine I would alter a few things to reduce stress and hopefully increase sleep:

1) add a nap at 5pm, then move bedtime to 8-8.30pm. Means he isn't so exhausted at bedtime, plus you have a longer evening with him downstairs so can all eat, chat etc before bedtime routine so don't feel whole evening is getting him asleep and you have done what you want do beforehand. Nicer in summer also as not rushing back.

2) feed him just before you go to sleep

3) after that feed, don't feed for at least 3 hrs. Settle in between without feeding. This should decrease waking as he is currently waking regularly by habit, not as hungry. Increase gap after he is settled

itsgoingtoofast Fri 15-Apr-16 09:57:35

Some babies are just sleep more than others, and there will always be people who say that their babies sleep because they do x,y and z. It might be that their babies would sleep anyway. I had plenty of helpful people suggest that my DS's waking and feeding at night was because of something I was doing. I realised when I had my second that it wasn't. She was just a different person!

I got myself in a state when my DS was little, trying to do it "right". In the end co- sleeping helped us. Everyone is different. 5 months was a particularly rough stage I remember, but then he literally changed over night and became a great sleeper not long after. He's been great ever since, with the exception of when he is ill.

If you think teeth might be a factor then try some teething salts or calpol. But please take heart from the fact that this will get better, and that you are doing everything in the best interests of your baby. You sound like a lovely mum

jessplussomeonenew Fri 15-Apr-16 11:57:40

Thing is, you could change to ff and putting the baby in a separate cot only to find that the number of wakings is unchanged but that you also had to get out of bed to make a bottle and stay out of bed until it's finished.

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