Breastfeeding and Sleep
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Breastfeeding and Sleep
I'm hoping that some of the moms out there will share their strategies
for getting more sleep in the early months of motherhood. I have a
delicious 7 week old son who does what most babies do at this age (I
guess): He wakes up like clockwork every three hours to feed at night.
Lately he has not been falling asleap easily after feedings as he did in
the early days and it's a matter of bouncing, swaddling, etc to get him
back to sleep. He sleeps in a ''snuggle nest'' in between my husband
and I. He's also started being very awake from about 2-5 am for the
last week. I have heard that some people get used to the sleep
deprivation. I can't. I have always been sensitive to not getting enough
sleep and this is really hard. I find it hard to nap in the day--he wants to
be carried in the Bjorn all the time. This works as long as I'm
upright--he sleeps a lot this way, deep long sleep. But if I lie down or
lean back and he rests heavily against my chest he roots and tries to
eat my clothes and wakes up fussing. If I take him out and put him in
his bed he wakes up and fusses.
Is there anything I can do to get him to go longer stretches at night
between feedings? Any suggestions for how to get him to go back to
sleep quicker? One problem seems tobe that he falls alseap while
eatting but when I pick him up to burp him he wakes up. But if I don't
burp him he'll have gas, right? I know ''it gets better'' (but when???) but
in the meantime I'm SOOOO tired. Any suggestions would be much
tired new mom
Hi there- this sounds all too familiar... what i would recommend
would be to (when he wakes up at night) to change his diaper
first, then swaddle him up if you aren't already doing it and
then feed him. If he falls asleep at the breast, thats okay! If
he's sleeping, you don't need to burp him unless he's not asleep
and seeming fussy from gas, then burp him. Otherwise, let him
stay asleep because most likely he's not bothered by the gas.
Otherwise- stay patient- it is a phase and it will get better-
remember he's only 7 weeks old and babies take time to adjust to
better sleep cycles.
On the other note about him only sleeping in his Bjorn carrier-
I would definitely stop that on the regular basis. Yes its okay
if your out and about and he's sleeping, but don't make it a
habit ! to get him to sleep like that for his naps- he will only
get used to it and then eventually you'll have a hard napper on
your hands. I would try maybe a bouncer vibrating seat for his
naps- anywhere but on you for naps! It takes time but they get
used to it and at least that frees you up to do things or get
some sleep yourself while theyre sleeping... email me off list
if you want to talk...
I wouldn't worry about burping your baby after nursing him, esp.
if this is waking him up. If you can nurse him to sleep for his
naps, and take one yourself, then by all means, do it! I found
that I dozed off around the same time as my son when lying side
by side...THose daytime naps are crucial right now, so do what
you can to get them in.
Burping became the norm after bottlefeeding became the norm.
Many breastfed babies around the world are NOT burped.
If he really does become uncomfortable with gas, then you will
know it, b/c he will squirm and fuss. Otherwise, catch some
zzz's together ;)
If he falls asleep at the breast, don't burp him. If he were
uncomfortably gassy, he wouldn't fall asleep! It's not unusual
for breastfed babies not to need burping at night.
Also, don't change his diaper at night unless he's poopy or
you're already treating a bad diaper rash. Use super-absorbent
disposables or double cloth so that merely wet diapers won't
need a change.
Try ditching the Suggle Nest and just letting him sleep next to
you. He may or may not sleep any better, but in most cases this
will allow you to simply fall asleep (or at least doze) while
you nurse him, and you won't have to wake up enough to move him
when he's done. If you're concerned about teaching him to sleep
alone later, that's fine, but he's too young for it now, so you
might as well do whatever it takes to get the maximum amount of
sleep. (I know a couple of moms whose babies would not sleep
*anywhere* except on mommy's chest for several weeks, and in
each case, at somewhere around 3-4 months old, it was as if
someone flipped a switch, and suddenly the baby became a
classic ''good sleeper'', going down easily and sleeping 10 hours
straight in a crib! My son was more generous as a newborn,
sleeping a good 5-6 hours at night, in a bassinet, but then he
never really improved on that a! s he got older. I'll hope you
have the former kind!) Assuming you're not drugged or drunk,
you will NOT roll over on him, and you should be able to find
ways of keeping pillows and comforters away from his face
without too much trouble.
Finally, go to bed when he does. Or earlier, if necessary --
have your husband take over baby duty early in the evening and
bring the baby to you only for feeding. That way, even if it's
interrupted, you'll get more sleep overall. Try to hit the sack
immediately after a late evening feed, so that your first
stretch of sleep can be a long one. Remember that this too
shall pass; someday you'll be able to stay up past 8pm again,
but that doesn't need to be a priority for you right now. If
going to bed early is too disruptive to your life, at least be
sure you get the baby to feed well just before *your* bedtime.
(Don't put him to bed at 8, then go to bed at 10, only to be
woken at 11. Either go to bed yourself at 8, or stay up until
11.) That way you'll maximize your chances of a longer first
stretch of sleep, which is when you need it most.
Give up the burping!!! I know that hearing that it ''will get
better'' doesn't seem that helpful, but it's true! Your baby is
still very very young and what you're describing is so normal-
sounding for 7 weeks. The periods of night sleep will keep
getting a little bit longer, but for now, I recommend working
something out with your partner so you can have a period of
extended sleep. We did it so that my husband got up in the
early morning and gave our baby a bottle of breast milk so I
could sleep for a couple more hours, and those 2 hours of hard
sleep did wonders. Good luck, and consider joining a new moms'
group if you haven't already. The suppport is crucial. Best
My experience at that age was that in the middle of the night,
you don't have to burp un! less they are fussing. I get the sense
that your problem might have to do with letting him ''wake up''.
Every kid is different I know, but maybe try just rolling over,
nursing, and letting him fall asleep at your breast. I would
try not burping him - I actually had read that and it worked.
As far as any other suggestions, I found that when I tried
to ''fill my baby up'' during the day, she was less hungry at
night - in other words be vigilant about the every two hour
feedings (maybe even less than that) during the day. Also, I
found taking a ''nap'' in the morning - you're still sleepy when
you would first ''wake up'' and your bound to go back down easier -
- maybe one day a friend or your partner could take the baby for
a little while during that ''nap'' time for you. Finally, my
friend told me (and I think it helped) to aim for a 4 hour
stretch of sleep -- it made a difference for me. G! ood luck,
you'll make it!
Slept like that before too
You might try him in a sling rather than the Bjorn...I know I
got to where I could lay my girl down in her crib, pull her in
and out of the car seat, etc. from the sling, without her waking
up, but it wasn't until she was about 3 months old. Then I had
three relatively easy months until she stopped sleeping so
much. What's key is to use a sling that you can put them in the
crib or carseat with -- you lose all your hard work if you have
to peel the darned thing off the kid!
Your situation sounds very much like my life last year, and I would
it's quite ''normal''. At some point my daughter stopped falling right
to sleep after night nursings, which was quite disconcerting to me at
time (''Why is she STILL awake?''). What I did was t! ry and keep the
environment very low stimulation (lights, movement, talking, singing,
and waited it out. We usually had great luck with swaddling but not at
those times when she just wasn't in a sleep cycle. It got worse for a
short while (up every 2 hours) but then better so that by 5 months she
was waking up twice a night. We went through some fairly painless
''sleep training'', and for the past 7 months she has slept 11 hour
I would recommend reading the sleep books by both Weissbluth and
Ferber which will teach you a lot about the sleep patterns of babies so
least you will know what's going on and what you can expect,
regardless of how you decide to ''handle'' it.
I hope that this passes soon for you. Good luck!
mother of a 12 month old
Buy a swing!! We were given a Fisher Price swing that has a
reclined seat and sw! ings either as a cradle (side-to-side) or a
swing (back to front). My daughter like the side-to-side
motion, and until she was 10 weeks old, it was the only way to
get her to sleep. After 30 min, we would transfer her to her
basinnette. During the day, she would nap in her swing--
sometimes up to two hours!
Around 6 weeks, she began to wake up when I laid her down. As
she got older, she has learned to go back to sleep (some of the
time anyways). Some nights she kicks around and then falls
asleep and some nights I am up and down for an hour, holding
her hand, patting her butt, checking her diaper and feeding her
(again!). She is 5 months old and it seems to be getting
better all of the time.
I had many of the same problems with my baby who is now almost 9 weeks
found that holding her either over my shoulder after! burping (swaddled)
or in my
arms until she was in a deep sleep helped. I read in the Sears book
that deep sleep
means no eye movement or expressions. I would hold her for about 20-25
after feedings before putting her down. This was frustrating because it
tacked on an
extra 1/2 hour to night feedings which then ended up being about an
hour long. If I
didn't do this, she would wake up and we'd have to start all over
again. Some nights,
especially around 4-5 am, I would just throw her on my chest and sleep
propped up. It sounds like this might not work for your baby. She is
down much easier after feedings at night but still doesn't nap well
during the day. It
will get better. Hang in there.
Another new mom
this page was last updated: Dec 28, 2004
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