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Thread: Questions about night nursing

  1. #1
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    Default Questions about night nursing

    Hi moms! Had some questions about night nursing.

    Awhile ago at a visit to DD's pediatrician, the doctor stated that my baby probably doesn't need to be nursed as often during the night. I think this assessment was based on metabolism and body weight, not on her actual need to be close to me and comforted/nursed. She stated that I should allow her to fuss and learn to soothe herself to sleep. I don't really agree with this because she is young and I figure she needs to eat during the night.

    Some background: DD is almost 11 wks and I usually nurse her to sleep around 9 or 10pm, then she wakes up at 2am, 5am, then is usually up for the day at 7am. I am thrilled with this schedule and didn't think that she would be sleeping this long. However, she has tried out a couple of nights where she will start off with a 6 hour stretch.

    - I was wondering, at what point should I pick her up to nurse? She is never very demanding at night. At around 2/5/7am she will fuss a little bit, move her arms around and kick her legs, then sleep for 5 minutes, then repeat. I've never let it escalate to crying. I figure that the sooner I pick her up, the sooner I can go back to sleep! (FYI, she sleeps in a crib in our room right next to the bed. I tried co-sleeping but I am just hyperaware of her and can't go to sleep...)

    Is this wrong? I have noticed that some nights we will be a little "off-schedule" and she will end up nursing to sleep at 11, but will still wake up at 2am. It seems like her hardwired circadian rhythm now.

    - If she has only slept a couple of hours, should I let her fuss around and put herself back to sleep or just pick her up no matter what time it is? The latter is what I am currently doing and I am fine with it, I just didn't know if this would be setting myself up for frequent nightwaking when she is a toddler.

    As always, I appreciate the advice

    Thanks!
    Amber

    Mommy to Baby Sage: 6lb, 19in, born on 5/20/12

    love: hotsling AP, bumgenius diapers, ergoBaby
    loving fiancée to SAHD

    visit us at: mommy & sage

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Default Re: Questions about night nursing

    So, I think there's a lot of different opinions about night weaning, STTN, etc, but I think your pediatrician is flat our wrong on a neuro/developmental level. With our first, my husband and I did a lot of research into the scientific literature about infant/newborn sleep patterns, development, etc. And it's pretty clear that before at least 4 months babies have NO control over their sleep cycles and NO amount of behavior modification can help. Children cannot self sooth at 11 weeks.

    I'm different than a lot of moms on this board, because we did night weaning early, and did limited CIO. But there is NO point in even considering this before 4 months, and probably not before 6.

    It seems like a lot of people on this board get a lot of parenting advice from their pediatricians, which may or may not agree with their parenting styles, but this advice, even on a medical level, is wrong. How you night parent is up to you, but attempting to let a child self soothe at 11 weeks will be unsuccessful from a brain development perspective.
    Ellen

    Mama-surgeon;
    DS Ethan 12/16/2008
    Breast fed/pumped 11 months as a surgical resident, 80 hours a week at work
    DS Abram Daniel 12/20/2012
    Feel like we've gotten a strong start

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Questions about night nursing

    That advice is wrong in my opinion, BF fulfills so many more needs that just nutrition. Self soothing at 11 weeks, ha! Trust your instincts. CIO is wrong at any age IMHO, your baby cries to communicate her needs to you, she has been inside you her entire life and now, yes she still needs you to help her sleep and be comforted.

    Also most sleep book don't even recomend night weaning until 9 months at min, so 11 weeks is ridiculous
    Mommy to Maxwell 10-9-07 weaned with love (a party and a remote control monster truck) on his 4th birthday
    My Boy 3-16-10
    And my sweet pea Sam 2-12-11

    Watch Your Language

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Questions about night nursing

    The earliest I have heard for night "training" from any sort of sleep expert is six months. It sounds like you and your LO have a good rhythm together.
    I am Erin--happily married to the nerd of my dreams for 15 years
    High School Science Teacher
    Mother to: Thing 1 9/23/01, bf 15 mo, diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma 1/29/02, officially cancer free for ten years in August 2012
    Thing 2 6/6/05, bf 12 mo, obsessed with dynamite
    Glowworm 2/18/11, bf 15 months and counting

  5. #5
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    May 2006
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    Default Re: Questions about night nursing

    Excellent advice from the PPs. If you're going to night-wean, 11 weeks is way too early, and you shouldn't do it because the pediatrician says to. If you night-wean, you should do it because you need to and the baby is ready. Right now it sounds like night-nursing is working for you, so why try to change anything?

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think you're returning to the workforce relatively soon, am I right? If so, night-nursing has a real potential benefit for you, in terms of helping to maintain your supply and keep your baby attached to the whole idea of nursing. Of course, it can also make you more tired, but for a lot of women better supply is worth the price of a few wake-ups.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Questions about night nursing

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*blue2000 View Post
    It seems like a lot of people on this board get a lot of parenting advice from their pediatricians, which may or may not agree with their parenting styles, but this advice, even on a medical level, is wrong. How you night parent is up to you, but attempting to let a child self soothe at 11 weeks will be unsuccessful from a brain development perspective.
    Great advice; this was my gut feeling on this. I realize that the pediatricians are injecting their own parenting experiences when they give advice, so I usually take it with a grain of salt.

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*jenna562
    Also most sleep book don't even recomend night weaning until 9 months at min, so 11 weeks is ridiculous
    I thought so. When she said that DD doesn't "need" to nurse, it didn't seem right. If she's fussing, she needs it.

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal
    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think you're returning to the workforce relatively soon, am I right? If so, night-nursing has a real potential benefit for you, in terms of helping to maintain your supply and keep your baby attached to the whole idea of nursing. Of course, it can also make you more tired, but for a lot of women better supply is worth the price of a few wake-ups.
    Yup, you're right! I'm returning in October, good memory I think you're absolutely right. Since I took over DD's bedtime routine a couple of weeks ago, I have gotten into the rhythm of bathing her, changing her into her pjs, and then nursing her to sleep and waking up to night nurse. It is very rewarding to make her feel secure and have her fall asleep nursing and then waking up with her is my "special time." When I am back to work I will probably look forward to this time every day after a long time being apart from her.

    I really want co-sleeping to work, I think it makes perfect sense and when it's amazing when I get to nap with her on our bed. It seems like she sleeps better and is more peaceful when she is napping next to me. I'm sure that most babies make a lot of noise and move around a lot during the night; how does one deal with this? Maybe I am just too aware of her and it isn't right for us...
    Amber

    Mommy to Baby Sage: 6lb, 19in, born on 5/20/12

    love: hotsling AP, bumgenius diapers, ergoBaby
    loving fiancée to SAHD

    visit us at: mommy & sage

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Questions about night nursing

    Young babies tend to be quiet sleepers, in my experience. They just snuggle up to mom and don't disrupt anyone much, provided that mom is willing to just roll over and stuff a breast in the baby's mouth whenever she gets too noisy! Luckily, many moms can drowse while they nurse. It's not like putting baby in a crib means better sleep- it just means that you may miss those soft, early attention cues, and wake up only when baby is really squalling. Now that's something that will ruin your sleep, not to mention that you will have to get all the way up out of bed and drag yourself down the hall in order to attend to the baby.

    In my experience, it's older toddlers and children who tend to be disruptive at night. My 6 year-old kicks around in her sleep, and when a big, strong 6 year-old wallops you in the night, you notice!
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Questions about night nursing

    I think really the only "right" answer is what you feel "right" with.

    Your current schedule sounds very similar to what I've been doing for the last 5 months. And my pediatrician suggested similar things, saying at the last checkup he no longer needs to nurse overnight and we should be (essentially) doing "sleep training" and getting him sleeping through the night. My gut (like yours) was uncomfortable with this. First, when he's on schedule, it's not really a bother to me. I don't mind. Second, I need the night nursing sessions to keep my milk production consistent (so either I nurse overnight, or pump. I know which I prefer!). Third, he's only 7 months old, he's got the next 80 years of life to sleep through the night. Physiologically, it's really fine for him to be waking, and I've read enough mothers (on here and elsewhere) who have perfectly well adjusted children sleeping through the night by the time they're 2, to know that nursing overnight isn't "spoiling" him or setting me up for disaster.

    FWIW, just to describe what we're doing a little bit - I DO let him fuss a little if he wakes up overnight, before going to get him, because sometimes he will go right back to sleep. If he's really disturbed or hungry, though, I've learned the difference in his noise pattern and go feed him. Often (like you), he'll be restless, wake, go back to sleep, restless, wake, go back to sleep, and I will nurse him just because I get to sleep quicker that way. No shame in it Also, about 50% of the time now he goes back down to sleep while still partly awake. He has gotten there on his own with no "training" or crying it out (well, I've let him whimper or yell sometimes, but never cry/scream/wail). So nursing to sleep/nursing overnight really is not some single reason your baby won't learn to go to sleep on her own.

    I don't think there's any reason to follow one rigid way of handling this (whether it's "sleep training" or "attachment parenting" and responding right away, every single time). There are middle grounds - you know your baby best, and you know you best, so do what you are comfortable doing and what your heart/gut tells you is correct. Every baby and mother is different, so what works really well for you guys and keeps everybody happy may not work for another pair.

    When my ped offerred me that advice the last time I brought up the breastfeeding supply issues, and basically just said I appreciated his advice and theory that I would "regret" nursing at night or ever nursing him to sleep, but that this is what I need to do now and I'm fine with it, and how 'bout we just stick to medical stuff from here on out, please.

    ETA - about co-sleeping, again, that's something different for everybody. In our case, I was not confident our bed was safe (mattress too soft, sheets tend to slip off the corners, everybody gets caught in daddy's gravitational pull, etc), so I do have him in a crib down the hall. But I prefer this to nursing in bed since I don't fall asleep as easily in a situation I feel is not safe. And the moniter is sensitive so I'm usually there before he's even fully awake, now that I know all his cries/noises and which ones I need to respond to. Sometimes he has trouble going back to sleep (now he's teething) and if he doesn't go right back to sleep on his own I will co-sleep in our guest room as that bed is firmer and safer. See? Middle ground to everything. You'll figure out what works best!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Questions about night nursing

    Does someone hang out at this doctors house and tell him or her exactly how much to eat and when? And if he or she gets hungry in the middle of the night, does this person bar the way to the fridge and tell the doctor that based on his or her bodyweight and metabolism they do not need to eat? Infants are human beings and they get hungry when they get hungry just like anyone else. Luckily what a breastfed baby is hungry FOR is always entirely healthy and appropriate for them. Plus of course they DO nurse for comfort and this is also entirely normal and healthy.

    If you are interested, you can explore this website which gives lots of information about normal infant and baby sleep patterns http://www.isisonline.org.uk/ These folks looks at the studies and evidence , evaluated sleep studies etc. to come to their conclusions.

    I think your instincts in this tell you what you need to know. Modern humans so overcomplicate everything involving infant feeding. We did fine for thousands of years nursing whenever mom or baby wanted. Trust yourself and your baby.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Questions about night nursing

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*goldentoes View Post
    When my ped offerred me that advice the last time I brought up the breastfeeding supply issues, and basically just said I appreciated his advice and theory that I would "regret" nursing at night or ever nursing him to sleep, but that this is what I need to do now and I'm fine with it, and how 'bout we just stick to medical stuff from here on out, please.
    Good for you! I suspect many doctors need to hear this sort of thing.

    I couldn't cosleep for awhile due to an injury, so I pushed the crib up right next to our bed. My son was waking every 2 hours (teething, milestones - seemed pretty cruel to night wean even then at 7-9 months), and going to a different room to nurse would have been miserable. It still less exhausting to bed share, but having him right next to the bed worked very well given the circumstances. I do think Mommal is right, though, younger babies tend to sleep pretty quietly.
    K. Sophia - Mama to my little lactivore, the amazing Mr. X (11/10).

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