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Thread: Eating so often--don't think we can make

  1. #1
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    Mar 2012
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    Default Eating so often--don't think we can make

    My baby is 10 weeks old.For the first 3-4 weeks, my baby ate every 2-3 hours with usually one 4-5 hour stretch at night. From 4 weeks on, he has been eating every 1-2 hours round the clock.

    The problem is that at night he is also doing these 1 1/2 or 2 hour increments. I go to bed by 8:30, but even so I'm only getting a few hours of sleep in 1-hour increments every night. I work (from home), and I have an older child, so I can't nap during the day, I can't get to bed earlier, and I can't stay in bed past 6:30.

    It's reached the point that both my physical and mental health are deteriorating badly. The sleep deprivation is affecting my job, my body, and both my kids. It's simply not sustainable for me to keep having 6 one-hour naps during the night and then attempt function at any reasonable level during the day. It was OK for a few weeks, but it's been 6 and counting.

    I desperately want to keep him on breast milk only, but I do know that formula would help him sleep longer. And it's not healthy for me OR for him for me to continue to have so little sleep.

    Some details:

    -He nurses for 5-10 minutes. For the shorter ones, he's clearly not all that hungry. For the 10 minute ones, I know he can easily take in 3-4 ounces. (He has a strong suck, and we've had him weighed before/after on occasion.)
    -His growth has been excellent, 8-15oz. per week with commensurate gains in length and head circumference. He's over 13lbs now.
    -He is very gassy, spits up often, and used to have reflux pain. He is on Zantac, and I gave up dairy/caffeine/chocolate/citrus/broccoli, which have helped eliminate the reflux pain, but not the gas or the spitting up. We pedal his legs, use gripe water, us Mylicon, burp him frequently, etc.
    -I have a very good supply. I feed one side only each time, but even then he's not always getting all the hind milk. I block feed if it's less than 2 hours.
    -He poops only once or twice a day now, and it is explosive and huge--usually wrecks whatever he is wearing. But it more or less matches the "healthy" poop pictures at babycenter, sometimes it is slightly greener from the foremilk.
    -I put him to sleep swaddled, keep the lights dim, he has white noise, etc.--everything possible to promote lengthier sleep.

    Is there anything, anything at all, that I'm missing that would allow me to get to even a 3-hour stretch during the night? I think I could manage if he did one 4-hour stretch between feedings, or a couple of 3-hour stretches...that would buy me 2 or 3 hours of concurrent sleep...but if I can't get to that level, formula is going to be the only way to survive.

    Suggestions?

    (By the way, I've never understood the theory that "breast milk digests in 1 1/2 hours." 1oz. of breast milk does not digest in the same amount of time as 4oz., the body doesn't work that way. It's like saying I'll be hungry just as quickly after I eat 4 sandwiches as I will after I eat 1 sandwich!)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Eating so often--don't think we can

    The first couple of things that come to mind are

    reflux: Have you talked to his doctor to see if the meds are working sufficiently? Sometimes it takes a different medication or dosage.

    cosleeping: If it's at all possible for you to sleep with your son, you might find that you can latch him on as frequently as he needs without actually waking up much. That was the only way I made it through the first few years of my reflux/food allergic son's life. He nursed every 45 minutes all night, with one 2 1/4 and one 1 1/2 hour stretch. If I'd had to do anything other than snuggle him in and latch him on, I think I really might have died of sleep deprivation.

    Also, I'm not really convinced that formula equals more sleep. It didn't for my daughter, who weaned from the breast at 6 1/2 months. She was also a food allergic and reflux baby, and she continued waking every hour until she was about 1. Even though she got formula AND we did CIO. I think babies really just sleep how they do.
    Teal

    25 May 96 and 14 January 08 and 27 February 2012

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Eating so often--don't think we can

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*jennifer71 View Post
    (By the way, I've never understood the theory that "breast milk digests in 1 1/2 hours." 1oz. of breast milk does not digest in the same amount of time as 4oz., the body doesn't work that way. It's like saying I'll be hungry just as quickly after I eat 4 sandwiches as I will after I eat 1 sandwich!)
    Are you saying that when weighed before and after a feeding your child had gained4oz? That is a lot to take in in a feeding but even if that is true it does digest very quickly and can't really be compared to eating a sandwich. Breastmilk is live tissue being absorbed by live tissue. a sandwich or 4 not so much. So at 10 weeks old his stomach is only able to hold as much as he can hold (which I'd be suprised if he could actually hold 4oz but it's not unheard of.) Regardless it will be absorbed at this age in under 2 hours. Because of how quickly they are growing at this age. They generally double their birth weight by the 12-16 week point. And the brain and Organ development at this age is astounding. The truth is the your milk is this magic substance is that is quickly and easily absorbed into his tisses and the reason that children go longer between feedings with formula is it's NOT. It's not live tissue. Or even substance from the same animal. It's Dead and it's harder on their system and takes longer to digest because its NOT as quickly or as easily absorble and the extra time is being used to turn more of it into WASTE. Stuff your baby can't use to grow. You are about two weeks a way from longer stretchs of time. Can you do it? Because around twelve weeks is when their stomach are large enough to hold food for 3 hours. And when their rapid growth begins to calm down. Can you hold on Mama? I promise you won't be sorry if you do.

    Way too lazy for formula

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Eating so often--don't think we can

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*jennifer71 View Post
    (By the way, I've never understood the theory that "breast milk digests in 1 1/2 hours." 1oz. of breast milk does not digest in the same amount of time as 4oz., the body doesn't work that way. It's like saying I'll be hungry just as quickly after I eat 4 sandwiches as I will after I eat 1 sandwich!)
    Solid food (like sandwiches) requires a great deal of mechanical digestion, while breastmilk does not. Absorption of nutrients occurs at the cellular level along the intestinal lining. The intestinal tract has a huge surface area (even in an infant), and there is not much difference between 1 and 4 ounces on that scale.

    Sorry I don't have any advice. My baby only started giving me a reasonable stretch of sleep after he turned one. So, although I don't have any advice, I do have lots of sympathy.

    Oh and cosleeping did help us too. It wasn't something I intended to do, but did out of necessity.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Eating so often--don't think we can

    I should have mentioned we DO cosleep. He is in an Arm's Reach right next to me, I just pull him over. We have minimized the amount of time spent in the feeding/burping/pedaling/diapering equation as much as possible!

    The dr. says his reflux meds are fine if he is not showing any of the symptoms he was before (choking, gasping, screaming, arching, etc.). The only symptom he still has is the spitting up--which the meds don't ever affect--and the frequent eating--which is in the realm of normal for his size/age.

    We've weighed him taking in 2.8oz by breast, and he was distracted at the time as we were at a support group meeting. When he's not distracted he eats more steadily. We've witnessed him taking 4oz (pumped) by bottle several times. So yes, he can take in that much at a feeding. I assume he doesn't do it every time, but he is capable of it.

    Dinner/evening activities are the only time I see my older daughter as she is in school/afterschool until 5:30. I used to skip them to nap but it was much too upsetting to her. She understood for a few weeks, but now we're going into months and it's more than a little girl can handle.

    We're trying to pump/give him a bottle during the night but so far it hasn't worked. He will only take bottles when I'm completely out of the apartment.

    I know I will be happy if I can keep going, but it's becoming physically impossible. I ABSOLUTELY can hold out for 2 or 3 more weeks, but when people talk about months or even years I feel like I'll have to give up. I'm so tired I'm actually scared to care for him as my mind is very fuzzy, I tend to trip/stumble, etc.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Eating so often--don't think we can

    It has been studied and that study showed that formula and/or solids do not increase infant sleep. "topping baby off" even with a bottle of breastmilk may not help. A too full tummy could cause just as much sleep disurbance as an empty tummy especially if your child has reflux.

    If co-sleeping is not working, try NOT co-sleeping, maybe. I am not sure it would work but I know moms with older kids who found that not co-sleeping lengthened sleep. Generally co-sleeping increases mom's sleep but not for every mom. Also swaddling helps some babies sleep but not all. If you are co-sleeping, especially, swaddling would seem superfluous. Don't keep doing something that is not working jsut because an 'expert' said it should help. Your baby is an individual and you are the expert on your baby.

    It will not take YEARS for your child to sleep longer than he is now unless your child has a medical issue. But it may take months, I am not going to lie. It's very individual.

    My co-Leader had a child who did not sleep well at all as a toddler and finally they figured out she was gluten intolerant. So, you may want to try eliminating dairy or gluten to see if that helps at all? (Food sensitivities via breastmilk ate rare but when they occur its usually one of those two, usually dairy.)

    Also keep in mind what "sleeping longer" will mean. Longer than 1-2 hours could happen fairly soon. But do not expect longer than 3-5 hours for some time. The AAP defines sleeping though the night as one 5 hour stretch and many babies (no matter how they are fed) do not do that until they are past 6 months or even much older.

    Have you considered if you have OALD? Gastrointestinal discomfort from that could cause sleep disturbance. http://kellymom.com/bf/supply/fast-letdown.html

    You may want to check out the book The No-Cry Sleep Solution. It's a bit early for most of the ideas in that book but it never hurts to try.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Eating so often--don't think we can

    I have No-Cry. Used it with my older daughter.

    He won't sleep at all unless swaddled--he's fussy that way, because he's very active and can't control his arms and legs! In fact, if he wiggles partly out of the swaddle he wakes immediately and shrieks.

    I did give up dairy. Giving up gluten too may be more than I can manage right now!

    I'd be THRILLED with 3-5 hours! One 5 hour stretch, or two/three 3 hour stretches, would be fabulous! (by comparison)

    I may try sleeping in my daughter's room and having my husband get me up...I do wonder if his ability to smell me/my milk might wake him up more often...it's worth a try!

    Yes, I have a forceful letdown and an oversupply. I've known that for a while! He used to have EVERY symptom. Now as he is more capable, and my oversupply/let down are a bit lessened, he has an easier time but still is gassy, spits up, and clamps down sometimes. I've used EVERY measure on that page, religiously, for over a month. It has improved but I think we've plateaued on improvement!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Eating so often--don't think we can

    Babies can and do take 4 oz via bottle...because usually they have very little choice in the matter. It's a different way of drinking, and drinking from the bottle, unless done thoughtfully, carefully and with paced bottle feeding, is overfeeding. Period. Once they stark drinking from the bottle, it comes out quickly and in large amounts, and they have to swallow. Then they conk out because they are like us after Thanksgiving dinner...a bit too full.

    You can make it. I used to just lay down with my second and third and fourth kids while the older ones played and watched a movie. It won't be like this for long.
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Eating so often--don't think we can

    It sounds like your having a rougher time than me currently, but I have been there. Luckily DS is our first so I don't have to worry about other kiddos. But he does have reflux, and gas. We use all the same meds you do. I have OS and I think OALD and block feed etc. AND he STILL has signs of reflux all the time.

    When it was that bad though, I decided to try my best to just take it one day at a time and not think about how tired and fed up I was or look at a clock ever. Things got better and after I started to feel halfway normal again I started looking at clocks again and noticed that he only started sleeping for a 2-3 hr period once and maybe twice at night. He was (and still is) eating every 1.5 hrs the rest of the time and he takes 30 min or more per feeding. Sometimes the feedings just merge together into hours at the boob. It was like stressing about it made it worse. Every morning I say yep I'm still going to BF today and that is all I commit to.

    No suggestions just wanted to tell you that your not alone.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Eating so often--don't think we can make

    I did give up dairy. Giving up gluten too may be more than I can manage right now!
    Did giving up dairy help? Because if not, you could consider adding dairy back into your diet and trying eliminating gluten. I think it's a long shot it's a dietary issue at all but it's remotely possible.

    Also I would suggest still looking at ways to further improve the effects of the OALD. It sounds like you have improved the visible issues when the milk goes in, but if there is still a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance that is what could possibly cause gastrointestinal discomfort. It can take a long time for oald to go away.

    Besides meds, what else have you done for reflux? Holding baby upright after feeding, burping, that kind of thing? With my second, he had to be upright after feedings due to reflux and oald. So at night, I would nurse him sidelying and then sort of prop him up against me, kind of lying over my side, so his head was above his tummy.

    Also if I had a night I was done in, I would ask my husband to get up with the babies and walk them down in a sling. Sometimes they would go back to sleep, other times this would at least buy me another 30 or 40 winks. If your baby is nursing for comfort, he may accept other comfort measures some of the time.

    I would also suggest that if you are well and truly done, and nothing is working, and you believe bottles at night would help, then do that. Is it the best idea purely from a breastfeeding standpoint? No, there are pitfalls to this course of action. But it may be the best idea for you and your situation, and may even help you nurse longer overall. If you want to keep nursing during the day & part of the night, try to give the bottles (or have someone else give the bottle, since this is supposed to be for increasing your sleep) in a breastfeeding supportive way and keep an eye out for nipple/flow preference, breast refusal, that kind of thing. Also If you choose to supplement with formula you will likely want to pump as needed to keep your supply appropriate.

    Breastfeeding has benefits even if it is not exclusive breastfeeding, and personally, if I was in a situation where my only choices were to stop nursing altogether, or to supplement and be able to keep nursing longer, then I would choose the latter.

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