Re: A Couple of Questions!
Welcome to the forum and congratulations on making it to 4.5 months of nursing! Sounds like you're doing great- you are nursing on demand and your baby is a nice healthy weight. So why ignore your instincts and change things?
Stop, I'm laughing so hard it hurts...
When we went for our 4-month check up, the pediatrician said that my baby should be sleeping through the night, at least 8 hours by now.
Seriously, doctors are supposed to confine themselves to offering medical advice. Advice about sleep is parenting advice- and when it comes to parenting your baby, YOU are the expert. The doctor sees her for 20 minutes every couple of months. You spend all day, every day with her, and if you decide to stop nursing/rocking/parenting at night, you're the one listening to her heartbreaking cry.
There's no reason to think you need to "teach" your baby to self-soothe- that is something that will come in time. And frankly, I don't believe that 4.5 month-old babies are able to self-soothe. I think that they can shut down when their bodies tell them that continuing to cry is a waste of calories, though. Teaching a baby to soothe isn't really a positive if you view it that way.
Regarding your milk being "filling enough"- well, first of all you are correct that breastmilk digests faster and more completely than formula, and it's rare for breastfed babies to be able to go without eating overnight. Second, breastfeeding is more than food- it's comfort, too. So your baby wakes at night- which is developmentally normal and appropriate- and because she's a nursing baby she asks you not just for comfort but for her favorite and the most effective form of comfort. Third, kids are different when it comes to their need for nighttime parenting. Just because you had one baby who slept through at 3 months doesn't mean your second baby will be the same, regardless of how or what you feed her. And plenty of formula-fed babies wake at night- I just talked to a friend who has been formula-feeding her baby since 3 months and guess what? At 13 months, he's still demanding 2 bottles at night!
Advice for teething: nurse, nurse, nurse, nurse. Offer some cold teethers to chomp on (frozen damp washcloths are good, and so are ice chips made from breastmilk and served in a mesh feeder). And if the night-waking gets really bad, a dose of pain reliever before bedtime may help.
Also, any advice for nursing while baby is teething? She's been super fussy because of it and in the afternoons when she is feeding, she tends to pop off the nipple after only a minute or two and will put her fingers in her mouth, then will latch back on. She repeats this over and over even after switching sides so I'm really not sure if she's getting enough. Is she just comfort nursing?
Sorry for the long post, but any advice will be greatly appreciated!
Re: getting enough. If baby's diaper output is normal and her weight gain is normal, she is getting enough. One thing to be aware of is that many breastfed babies will drop percentiles on the weight-for-age charts as they get into the middle of their first year. As the baby becomes more mobile, she devotes more calories to action and packs fewer on as fat.
Re: nursing for comfort. This is a positive, not a negative! You cannot bottle-feed a baby for comfort because you will overfeed her. But the breast is a multi-purpose mothering tool- food AND comfort, wrapped in one pretty package.
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!"