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StorkNet > StorkNet Site Map > Breastfeeding > Breastfeeding Articles

Need Encouragement to Continue Breastfeeding
~ A Message Board Archive

 From kellyl ~ Let me start by saying that I have not had a continuous night's sleep in 5 1/2 months. We co-sleep so I do get more sleep than if Abigail were to be in her crib. She did sleep until 4 am one night about two weeks ago. I am seriously thinking of stopping breastfeeding so I can get some sleep. I know, how selfish, and when I said that I was going to consider not breastfeeding if we had another child, my dh said, "You mean you can't give up 6 months of sleep for the good of our baby?" I was ready to punch him! He wasn't really getting much sleep either since we co-sleep, so I don't hold it against him. I work at home, so I have the perfect situation. I CAN nap if I want to, but until today, haven't. Yes, after last night, I plan to.

I have tried formula, cereal, jarred baby food, seems like everything to get more food into this baby. Sometimes she will take it, most times not lately. Two nights ago, she was up for an hour crying, who knows why? Too much too quick? So, my plan for today: Nurse, nurse, nurse. No cereal, no formula, no baby food. We'll see what happens tonight. But if that doesn't work, she's getting a one-way ticket to the crib. Crying or not. Ooh what a bad mommy that makes me feel like. HELP! I mean some people that I've talked to say to let them "cry it out" even in the middle of the night when they wake up. I can't even stand the 'thought' of not attending to her when she wakes up crying. I thought that CIO meant that you just let them cry themselves to sleep, not again when they wake up. Oh, so many unanswered questions. Anyone see "Boot Camp" last night and what sleep deprivation does to the brain? That's what I feel like. (Although one of my clients' says he likes the creativity of the radio commercials I'm writing since being sleep deprived.)

 From SpringsGal ~ Does she want to eat every two hours or less often? I still get up with my ds about once or twice a night, he is 5 months, and I stay at home, but just getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep at a time feels good to me now. Maybe not co-sleeping would actually help you. I had to put my ds in his own crib after two months because he is such a restless sleeper he was keeping me awake. You could always pump a bottle to have for your dh to give her at night, so you don't have to get up at least once. This would work best of course if she was not co-sleeping. Do you think she is waking because she is hungry or just because she knows you and your breasts are there anytime she wants them? I did/do let my ds CIO when he first went into his crib, of course checking on him every so often, and after just a few weeks we started going to sleep after just a few minutes of whimpering/talking to himself.

Just a few weeks ago I was reading that you could let your child fuss for a few minutes in the middle of the night when they wake up (up to 15 minutes) and they would learn to put themselves back to sleep. I've tried this, and sometimes my ds does fall back asleep but he always wakes up again an hour or less later. So right now this isn't worth it to me because I'm barely back to sleep by that time. But just getting up once or twice a night is fine with me, but I usually just feed him and he is back to sleep and I'm back in bed in about 30 minutes. So, to summarize, I would try not co-sleeping first before giving up breastfeeding.

 From AmyD ~ I have been sleep deprived for six years. Starting with my first pregnancy through my first child who didn't start sleeping through the night until we took him to a sleep specialist and he was diagnosed with a totally organic sleeping disorder, and now Elisabeth is still waking to nurse a few times a night. I am so used to living in a haze that I barely notice it any more. Fortunately things aren't as bad as they were before we were finally able to treat Ian's sleep disorder. Before that I was living through something that I believe very few people could.

One of the biggest lessons that I have learned from these non-sleep experiences is that I can't control how anyone else sleeps. I usually wake up at least once to get up and go to the bathroom and/or get a drink. DH has a couple nights a week where is woken up by gas pains. The thing is that when our babies wake at night they need us. Taking care of the nighttime needs of my children has become part of the responsibility of being a parent.

Your post makes it sound as if your baby girl is your enemy and that you need to conquer her. Just take a moment and think about that. She is a helpless infant that needs you even in the middle of the night. I think that if we weren't equipped to handle this that as a species we would not have evolved this way. It is not a matter of psychology but biology and physiology.

My mother for the last six months or so has been saying that if I wean Elisabeth that my nighttime wakings would end. The few nights that Elisabeth has slept all that way through I still wake up 2 or 3 times!! So...I think that breastfeeding and co-sleeping are a wonderfully easy way to make the nighttimes easier when she does wake up. I couldn't imagine letting her cry in a crib in another room besides the fact that I would get less sleep that way and my little girl would scream not for minutes but hours.

If I were you I wouldn't wean or put my baby in a crib but the thing is that I am not you. I have been where you are and beyond and have survived and still would not change a thing. Gotta tell you though that when Ian was going through his worst I had to nap!! I betcha if you took a nap everyday that you would feel much better!

Hang in there!

 From Emama ~ Oh, how I'd love to be able to say I have all the answers to this. But I don't -- I just wanted to offer you my sympathy. When Emmett was about Abigail's age we started a really awful stretch of sleep. He would half-awake and cry, and it seemed like nothing would work. We tried lots of things, but in the end the two things that helped were time (he seemed to be going through nightmares) and moving him out of the crib and into our bed. He still wakes up several times and I just nurse him back to sleep, but I'm not tired the way I was. Personally, I think nursing is getting me more sleep than otherwise because the times dh has gotten up with ds, it works but takes a lot longer. Once I quit worrying over whether or not I should keep feeding ds at night, and just responded to him immediately, it became much quicker and I slept a lot better.

So I don't really have answers for you, because you're already co-sleeping and nursing. Sometimes I think there are things to try to make it better (and I'm counting on other members to suggest them for you!) but sometimes it seems more a case of riding it out until the problem passes. My best suggestion would be for you to take advantage of napping when you can and trying to get sleep in other ways so that the nights are bearable. On weekends my dh will get up with ds so I can sleep in, and that's a lovely treat.

You'll make it through this.

 From emp822 ~ I am in a similar situation and I will tell you what we have just started. Timmy just turned six months last week. He was co-sleeping with us or in his cradle in our bedroom up until last week. He is now in his big boy crib most nights. Although he co-slept last night. I pump out a bottle every day and let dh do the middle of the night feeding. So, he goes to bed at 9 pm when I nurse him, I then nurse him again at 12am then let dh do the 4 am feeding. This way I get sleep from 1 am through til 7 am or so. Although I still wake up whether or not I have to feed him! Sometimes he fusses in the middle of the night to which I or dh go into his bedroom and comfort him, hold him or I nurse him for comfort for a few minutes. I make sure, by the way, that when I nurse him before he goes down at 9pm that he nurses on both sides. Seems to last longer for him. He's over 20 pounds now so he can hold more. So far, it's been working okay. The key is to get help from dh if possible for one late night feeding and then you'll have a 6 hour stretch of sleep.

I want to add that I LOVE to co-sleep but there wasn't enough room in bed anymore for all three of us. And it IS easier to just roll over toward ds and nurse him whenever he needs it. So, now I have to get up and go into the other room to do it, but he seems to be sleeping for longer stretches (4 1/2 hours) so that helps. Does this make any sense?? I fell like I just contradicted everything I said! Okay, I really don't have a clue what I am doing either! LOL

 From ILmomtobe ~ Well, my son sleeps in the bassinet next to our bed, since when we did try co-sleeping, all of us were too restless.

Something I got from the Baby Whisperer book works well. I always feed Brett between 10 and 10:30pm, which is about two hours after his previous feed. I then put him down and by about 11, he's asleep. He then goes to 3 or 4 am, I feed him and he's up by about 6:30. So lately I feel like a queen when it comes to sleep. I will say we're moving him into a crib soon, because he has what I call "warning cries", where he fusses for a couple of minutes, but then nods back off for another 40 minutes or so. But of course I wake up. It's okay for kids to learn to soothe themselves back to sleep, but I don't let him cry for more than a minute or two. In the end, good luck and do what is best for you. If you have to end co-sleeping, it's okay and don't feel guilty because it doesn't mean an end to breastfeeding. After all, you need to be conscious!

 From SusanH ~ I think that what you need to do is look at why you want to wean and why you don't. I understand that you aren't getting unbroken sleep, but do you have a reason to believe that weaning will help you get more rest? You said that you have tried offering formula and food but it hasn't made a difference - do you feel that stopping breastfeeding altogether will somehow fix things?

Babies wake at night for a lot of reasons -- sometimes they are hungry, thirsty, teething, sick, had a nightmare, or are going through a developmental change or experiencing separation anxiety. A breastfed, co-sleeping baby will often respond to many of these situations by nursing back to sleep. It's the simplest route for the baby to fall back asleep and one that also allows the mother to get the most rest. My own baby is not a very good sleeper and she still wakes at night. But it has nothing to do with hunger at this point - at least half the time she just moves around and falls back to sleep without ever latching on. So if I had weaned her at 5 months she would still have woken at night, but I wouldn't have had breastfeeding to help her get back to sleep quickly for the last 10 months.

Personally, I am strongly opposed to CIO and it sounds like you are too. But if you have a crib and you think that your baby might sleep better in it, you could always try it for a night or two, just going in to get her if she wakes up and needs you. In the meantime, try not to focus so much on getting unbroken sleep and instead sleep when you are tired. If we have a very bad night, I generally sleep during Susy's nap and then I'm ok. But most nights I get plenty of sleep (8-9 hours, generally) even if I do wake up a few times.

 From 1HotMama ~ Personally, I think that whole fill 'em up and they will sleep better is baloney. I gave dd, a bottle with cereal, babyfood, nursing, it makes no difference. Some nights she sleeps for 7 or 8 hours and some nights I am up 3 or 4 times a night. Before she was 3 1/2 months, I always got at least 5 hours of consecutive sleep but she hit that age and for the past month I haven't been able to beg borrow or steal 5 hours (except once a week). So what I am saying is that every baby sleeps through the night when they are ready. I don't think that breastfeeding has anything to do with it. I do think that a nice tiring routine helps though. We feed dd, then we wash dd (every other day), and then I do her hair, lastly she nurses. Within seconds she is out like a light.

 From katgirl67 ~ You sound like me. I also work from home and am breastfeeding. I also co-sleep. Max is 2 months old. Except instead of blaming Max, I get mad at my clients . . . I blame them for taking my days so i can't nap. I haven't yet considered not breastfeeding, but there are some days when I just want my boobies back. Yesterday I was up at 5 am and spent most of the day in tears saying "I can't do this. I can't do both." I think today is the universe's way of giving me a break. No clients calling, Max is sleeping, and I actually have time to screw around and do Kathy-things!

You're not alone; there are a lot of us in this boat. There can be some really crappy days to deal with. But then the pendulum swings the other way. Eventually.

I did talk to my friend once who had a 2 year old and she mentioned that she hasn't slept through the night since before her baby was born. I can deal with not sleeping through the night, as long as I can catch up. I kind of enjoy the silence at 4 am at times. But if I wake up feeling crappy, I make a vow to nap as soon as Max sleeps. Anyway, I don't know if any of this helps. I think you're doing all the right things, just feeling frustrated, which is normal. You have a right to feel that way. If you're going to send Abigail to the crib or quit nursing, make that decision from a calm and rational place, not an angry place. You'll feel better in the long run if you do. Just my $.02 and experiences, FWIW. Good luck. I hope you find peace and get a nice long nap.

 From Ms.Dmoe ~ It sounds like a bit of mommy-burn-out. My suggestion is to take a bit of time as a mommy-less, wife-less person. This amount of time depends on you. Maybe 1/2 day or even a full day of some rest. Pump some bottles and hand the little one to DH (or someone else both you and the baby are comfy with if DH is working) and rest. Maybe read a bit of a book, get a massage or just sleep a little (be sure to pump though - you don't want engorgement! Then when you have a little better mood, re-evaluate the situation - and make sure you take a nap from now on!!! Personally I love co-sleeping and breastfeeding and find it much easier to the alternatives. Good luck and like many of the others have said, it WILL be easier and don't make this choice too hastily out of sleep deprivation!

 From Gayesy ~ You certainly sound fed up and exhausted. {{{{{HUGS}}}}} A couple of things which I suggest you try:
*DO nap when your little one naps. Or at least try to - lie down and shut your eyes so you can at least rest.
*Ease up on other things you are doing if at all possible. At the moment your priority is taking care of your baby and yourself. Housework etc can wait!

I understand that when you are exhausted and feeling desperate that any change seems like it will be the miracle answer. It is POSSIBLE that giving formula and putting DD in her crib will help you get more sleep, but quite frankly that is unlikely. Babies are needy! Whether you breastfeed, formula feed, co-sleep, or use a crib, they are needy little darlings and nothing will change that. There is the risk that giving formula will make her more unsettled, and sleeping her in her cot might make her cry more than she currently does. I make no bones about the fact that I am not pro-CIO, but of course that choice is yours to make of course. SOME babies do sleep better in a crib, so you could try it and see what happens, but I suspect that your little one will just be waking you up even more than now. The benefit of co-sleeping is that you don't get woken up from a deep sleep and have to run down the hall to a screaming baby. You both stir, you stick a bee in and off you go!

You know what really helped me? Accepting things the way they were. Believe me, I was EXHAUSTED when Thomas was the age your little one is. I was also suffering from PPD and was in a hospital where all the nurses were trying to FORCE me to give up breastfeeding and co-sleeping. I had no support around me, and hadn't discovered StorkNet yet. One day I just decided that I was no longer going to fight Thomas's natural behaviour. Things were tough but that was the way they were, and I was going to just accept it and do my best with it.

With acceptance came this HUGE relief! I was tired still of course but felt at peace within myself. There was no longer any battle going on in my mind! I would "go with the flow". Being tired was okay! I would live through it! I stopped looking at the clock every time Thomas woke up during the night. I stopped counting the number of times he nursed during the night, and comparing that to what everyone was telling me he "should" be doing. I just relaxed and got on with it. It became so much more enjoyable. I lost my frustration and resentment. I stopped worrying that Thomas was "too demanding". I started adjusting what I was doing around meeting his needs. I considered them non-negotiable and just worked around them to get the best rest I could. We ate a lot of take-away food or breakfast cereal when I got home from the hospital. My house wasn't the neatest, cleanest house I'd ever seen, but we were going GREAT!

Thomas actually nursed every two hours or so during the night until he was over 2 1/2 years old, but I managed just fine. I wasn't necessarily always full of beans, but I was happy, he was happy, and everything was just fine. Attitude is everything!

 From lolly ~ Wishing you a good night's sleep . . . I hope you can find a way to get some rest and down time soon. I also want to clarify that CIO and cribs do not go hand in hand! Don't feel any guilt about where she sleeps, if she is allowed to say "I want out" when she needs you. CIO is only a method of making a baby sleep when they don't want to. (and weaning the parent from answering nighttime needs). Cribs are just beds for babies...you don't have to change a thing.

Abigail is a few weeks older than my boy, and he's taken to waking and crying instead of just nursing back to sleep. I find I'm sleeping less, and I know the crib sounds like a good idea, but I will miss him too much! See what I say when he's crawling.

 From mrc ~ I really feel for you. You just reminded me of what is to come in the next few months as I am currently pregnant. Can you believe I had forgotten the sleep deprivation!? Now I remember when getting three hours at one time was the most wonderful thing. It sounds to me like you do want to continue breastfeeding since you have asked for encouragement. But, you are extremely frustrated, understandably!! Filling dd's tummy during the day or before bed will not help. It can even cause problems if she is overfilled and gets gas pain, or just isn't in the mood for it. It does help to cos-leep. Changing her sleep arrangements can be very disruptive (I have a terrible time trying to sleep in a different bed). But I do find that co-sleeping can make the baby aware of you when going through the natural pattern of sleeping and waking several times during the night. This is the important part to grasp - most babies sleep in approximately 1hour increments (some more, some less). Some babies are able to get themselves back to sleep, some become frightened, and some become aware of mommy's presence and remember the warm soft comfort of breastfeeding. Even bottle-fed and non co-sleepers follow this sleep pattern. You could really be setting yourself up for a battle if you turn her world upside down if you quit breastfeeding and change sleeping arrangements (how would you feel if you suddenly could only eat rice and sleep on the floor without dh??).

You could set up a crib beside your bed. Remove the siderail so that she is easily accessible for you. This puts her far enough away, but not out of reach. I used a toddler bed with two mattresses and the bed was up against the wall. Fill in the crack between the beds and lay a large sheet or blanket over. I made the sheet big enough so that both of us were laying on it. This worked wonderfully for us. It may take a few days for dd to get use to, but not as long as being in a completely separated bed.

As for CIO, I can't handle it. There is a reason you feel horrible listening to your child CIO. I would rather be up all night nursing than listening to the crying. Sorry this is so long, but hope it helps. Breastfeeding is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. We had some problems and had to work extra hard at it, I have never been sorry and am really very proud of us.

 From Cynmom ~ My ex-father in law told me one of the wisest things I've heard any one say: Never make a big decision when you're angry or upset. Every time I follow his advice, I'm glad I did. I know moms who have given up breastfeeding due to frustration and have had to deal with so many health and nutrition problems that they didn't have before. When frustrations get high, sometimes quitting seems like the only answer, but there are many great ideas like those posted by Gayesy about taking a nap in the day, getting help with housework, etc. Someone needs to write a book called Chicken Soup for the Breastfeeding Mom.

 From djk42 ~ Elizabeth still nurses most nights, but it really doesn't bother me. Reading "Nighttime Parenting" helped. The amount of sleep I get hasn't really changed, but the amount I expect to get has. To encourage you to keep on, remember that giving formula may make baby wake more at night for awhile. Things will get better, though it may take time, and in the whole scheme of life a year isn't very long (yeah, but it feels that way). One reason I decided not to let Beth CIO (even though she was colicky and basically screamed all the time for six months) was that I sat in bed one night and did the math. Letting her cry for 45 minutes (the longest you can medically go. Crying longer than that has been linked to heart problems and dehydration) was equal (that night) to me crying for 2 weeks (I did the percentage of her lifespan 45 minutes was and multiplied it by my age). If I cried for two weeks straight and no one came to my aid I would be pretty upset and deeply wounded. Just 5 minutes was equal to over a day. This kept me from letting her cry even though I wanted to (my husband was not helping because she didn't stop crying even while being held and he couldn't take it). I was wrung out, and she still keeps me hopping, but I just couldn't do it. Now, at almost two, she sleeps through the night about once a week, and it really doesn't help me sleep better than we she does wake up. I've found that getting enough sleep didn't relate to the number of interruptions.

If you can, take a day off work and get out for a few hours. I started this about a year ago (might have sooner but she's a bottle-free baby), and my husband takes a half day off work to watch them while I go shopping. It costs us the time off work plus about $50 in merchandise that I buy, but it feels great. I try to go every 6 weeks or so.

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