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6 week old won't sleep, now I'm struggling with insomnia

(12 Posts)
Chance51 Thu 10-Oct-19 08:34:34

I have a 6 week old boy who has been very alert from day 1 and has great difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep.

During the day I try to get him to nap after 45 mins to an hour of awake time or when he shows tiredness cues, whichever comes earlier. I use white noise, swaddling, and rocking in my arms, or sling. Most of the time this will make him sleepy and sometimes he will nap for 5-20 minutes, but it takes anywhere from 10 mins to an hour to get to this point, by which point he is often wanting his next feed.

At night between 9 pm 2 am he will normally do a 2 hour stretch at some point but there is no pattern as to when that will be. There is no pattern n his daytime sleep either. The rest of the first part of the night he wakes every hour, with hunger or just waking himself up between sleep cycles. From 2 am to 6 am he grunts and thrashes constantly. It sounds like discomfort rather than pain. I burp him after feed but he doesnt always burp, and I try bicycling his legs or pushing them gently up but this doesnt help. By the morning he is overtired and furious. He normally wakes up from sleeps crying with tiredness.

I am getting about 2-4 hours sleep a day in tiny broken pieces, and I'm now developing insomnia. I am so overtired myself, totally unable to know when I will be able to sleep as he has no pattern, and constantly expecting him to wake. This means it's taking me 30+ mins to get to sleep and sometimes I cant sleep at all.

My husband is unable to help much at all. He is out the house 8 am till 7 pm for work, plus he works a second job which means he is out till midnight some nights plus away friday till sunday evening. In the evenings DS cluster feeds so my husband cant take him then. I haven't been able to get him to take a bottle yet so DS could handle this.

Our life is just chaos. I am hardly playing with him or able to interact in any pleasant way with DS because he is constantly overtired and I spend all my time when not feeding or nappy changing trying to get him to sleep.

I tried co-sleeping but he doesnt sleep at the end of a feed for more than a few minutes and doesnt settle any better next to me than in his own cot. He is an efficient feeder with a good latch and I have fast letdown so he doesnt feed for long enough for me to doze between feeds.

I am so exhausted I dont feel it's safe for me to drive. We live in a remote rural location so I'm very isolated. My nearest family is 3 hours away and we dont have any close friends nearby as we only recently moved to the area. My mum comes to help when she can but she has 4 other grandchildren so it's not often.

I barely see my husband and we dont even sleep in the same room anymore as DS is too disruptive for his sleep.

Please any ideas or advice would be welcome. I am in despair and cant figure out how to break this cycle of exhaustion for either of us.

TheBestSpoon Thu 10-Oct-19 09:07:45

It's tough. I was in a very similar position - even started hallucinating crying as I tried to get to sleep. Tbh, it just gradually improved over time as DS's sleep consolidated and my hormones settled down. A few things that helped a bit:

1. A sling - DS only took micro-naps in the crib or pram, but would sleep properly there. Sling library is a cheap way to find one that suits.

2. Feeding lying down as well as cosleeping - being able to drift off with him still attached helped maximise rest for both of us. Depends on your anatomy whether that works for you though.

3. Persisting with the bottle - the fourth one we tried worked (NUK with a latex teat). Being able to get a few hours continuous rest helped a LOT.

4. Not taking the pill - fairly certain the additional hormones didn't help matters.

Good luck. It's hard and so much a case of trial and error to find what works for you and baby. I worried a lot about setting up bad habits, but in retrospect should just have done everything possible to get through. It will get better - since 6 months, he has slept through the night in his own room, which was utterly unimaginable at six weeks. Hang on in there!

Yippeeayeyeah Thu 10-Oct-19 15:25:59

I just wanted to say you are not alone. He sounds like my 4 week old. I am completely drained as I have a toddler too.
My DH works long hours too and also sleeps in the spare room so he’s not much help during the week.
I have a Saturday night off every week meaning I can get a whole night of sleep it’s the only thing the keeps me going! Could you ask your DH to do the same? He could bring your DS to you for a breastfeed and then take him back and settle him?

Beamur Thu 10-Oct-19 15:36:10

This first few weeks is brutal.
Good tips re slings and feeding on your side. Don't worry about playing with your baby, just your company and attention is fine.
It will get easier.
I found that I just had to try and sleep, or at least rest, while the baby was asleep or quiet! One good thing about newborns is that they can't move far. I used to lie DD down for a nap on my bed (protect the edge even at this age) and lie next to her. She wasn't very co operative with sleeping either.
I found it helpful to think back to how my bump was during the day. Often still when I was walking/moving around and active when I was still.
Get out every day for some fresh air and exercise. I'm convinced it helps babies learn day and night time too.

ncbaaybeee Thu 10-Oct-19 15:38:34

First weeks are hard - I remember thinking what have I done!!! But it gets easier and you get used to being knackered all the time. I didn't drive much at all to begin with as I felt too tired

Teddybear45 Thu 10-Oct-19 15:38:59

The grunting might be a sign of reflux. Try sitting or standing him up for feeds and keep him upright for 30 mins or so.

Chance51 Thu 10-Oct-19 18:52:34

Thank you for your replies - it's so helpful to know you're not alone. I feel like all the babies at the mum and toddler group I've joined are such good sleepers compared to my DS. It feels very isolating and lonely, especially because DH and I have so little time together at the moment.

@TheBestSpoon Thank you for your suggestions. I have a sling which worked really well in the beginning and almost instantly got him to sleep. Unfortunately it is working less and less well as the weeks go on. Today I put him in it yawning after he'd been awake for an hour and he kicked, screamed, scratched my neck, and head butted me for 35 minutes before finally conking out (he went from screaming and red-faced one second to fast asleep the next, seemed quite odd, but seems to be happening more often so I guess maybe linked to over-tiredness). I've tried feeding lying down but he's a really efficient feeder so only needs 5-10 minutes per boob, which isn't enough time for me to doze off. He used to feed to sleep, but again, has stopped doing this over the last couple of weeks so he comes off the breast awake and won't settle beside me for a nap. I've only tried one bottle so will have a go with a few different kinds - fingers crossed we'll find one that suits him!

@Yippeeayeyeah Unfortunately my husband can't give me a night off as he is away every other weekend and his second job is very physically demanding and also requires late night driving over a considerable distance. I just don't feel comfortable asking him to skip sleep. He is exhausted already from the hours he works and the nature of his job and I think we would be risking a car accident if he becomes any more tired. My lovely mother has tried to take him for 2-3 hours so I can nap but unfortunately I haven't been able to sleep while she's had him. I think it's reached the point when my sleep has become so irregular and infrequent that I am developing a sleep issue too. I had really bad problems with insomnia about tend years ago and was only able to solve it through sticking to a routine religiously so I don't think I have much chance of solving my sleep problems until DS is into some kind of routine.

Yippeeayeyeah Thu 10-Oct-19 19:20:34

I meant to say that a 6 weeks they won’t have much of a sleep pattern. I found that by 12 weeks he was showing more of a sleep pattern so I could begin to relax a bit. I find that when dd is sleeping I can’t sleep due to the anxiety of her waking. Aahhhh in a few months it’ll be like these sleepless nights never happened. I promise you it will get easier.

TheBestSpoon Thu 10-Oct-19 21:11:35

Oh dear, sorry to hear the sling isn't working. Maybe worthwhile trying before he looks sleepy?? DS never looked sleepy until he was already overtired But do appreciate that every baby is different and that then gives very little time for feeding and changing. He'll be able to stay awake a little longer fairly soon and that will change things. I totally sympathise re the screaming - we had weeks of him screaming himself to sleep whatever we did, which was no fun for anyone. Eventually it became clear he just wanted to be put down and left to it, but that was about 16 weeks.

The more you can get DH/DM involved, the better, but do appreciate there are practical constraints to that. And you sleeping on demand isn't easy! I've never been able to nap easily in the day and having a baby didn't change that. But even lying down with my eyes shut (not sleeping!) for half an hour while DMIL held the baby did help a little. I tried to get a bit of routine going fairly early (eg tried to get baby exposed to natural light as much as possible and baby and I both went to bed at 8:30 every day), which perhaps helped a little, but really everything we actively did was marginal to him just getting a bit older. Sorry to not be of more help, but solidarity sent. It will get better. Don't even think about playing as an issue until at least 12 weeks!

NabooThatsWho Thu 10-Oct-19 21:17:26

Formula and a dummy can help a lot. Lack of sleep is like mental torture.

sewinginscotland Thu 10-Oct-19 21:35:30

6-8 weeks is peak fussiness time for a newborn. Mine was fairly sleep resistant at that age too, and he got a lot better at 8 weeks. We spent hours bouncing on the yoga ball to soothe him.

I struggled to nap while he napped because you never knew when he would wake. I had to have someone else in charge of him. Would your mother be able to come over at the same time every day and take him for a few hours? If it's routine that works for you, maybe you could nap, or at least rest, then once you got used to it. Does your husband have any annual leave to take, as you're really struggling?

Having a newborn is so hard and it feels like there's no light at the end of a tunnel, but you will get through it. You've done amazingly well to get this far.

user764329056 Thu 10-Oct-19 21:40:56

I know this might not help right now but I remember being at the end of my tether with similar problems as you when I had my daughter, everyone said at 12 weeks things will improve and miraculously that happened, not much help for today but hope for the future!

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