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Thread: How to sleep for BF working mom

  1. #1

    Default How to sleep for BF working mom

    Hi everyone,
    I'm new to the site and a FTM. I'm actually not due until April, so I've yet to experience anything myself... just what I've been reading and researching.

    I'm a full time dayshift Supervisor at a hospital in a very busy environment. Luckily, we have lactation rooms and everyone is very supportive of a BFing mom.

    My one concern is how to establish a good sleep routine with my baby once I am back to work. I know that during my maternity leave, I'll be able to freely nap and sleep when the baby sleeps, but once I go back to work, I think it's going to be very difficult. The other hardship is that my husband works 3rd shift, so it's just me, nursing (which is fine--I understand that I should try to nurse at the breast as much as possible and only bottle feed for my MiL to give when I am away at work).

    Does anyone have any good suggestions for a sleep routine? I don't want to get in the habit of nursing the baby to sleep so that she isn't depending on that all the time to nurse (I have a friend who is going through that struggle currently and the baby is having a terrible time weaning) and I am not interested in co-sleeping. I plan to keep her in a bassinet with me in the bedroom for a while.

    Any tips from moms who are currently in the same circumstances that have lived it/are living it?

    Thank you so much!!

  2. #2

    Default Re: How to sleep for BF working mom

    Hi there! I'm living it now with an 8 week old. I go back to work in 2 weeks. How long are you planning on taking for maternity leave?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How to sleep for BF working mom

    Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the baby to come!

    It's really, really early to be thinking about sleep and routines. You still have to meet your baby, and get to know him/her, and everything about him/her is going to be changing more or less constantly for the first few months. So now isn't really the time to be forming sleep plans. Think about enjoying your baby and your maternity leave, instead!

    Now is also a really good time to let go of any preconceptions you have about infant sleep.

    First, let go of the idea that nursing a baby to sleep makes her dependent on nursing in order to go to sleep. Babies and young children are dependent on adult help for sleep regardless of how they are fed or whether or not they are nursed to sleep. Refusing to nurse to sleep will just make the job of getting your baby to sleep harder for you, without making it easier for anyone else.

    Second, let go of any certainty you have about co-sleeping. Make sure that you are familiar with the rules for safe co-sleeping and that your bed is set up so that you can co-sleep safely, if you find yourself doing it. A lot of parents do not plan to share a bed with their babies, and then end up doing it anyway due to exhaustion or convenience or because they discover that they like cuddling with their babies!

    When it comes to routines, here's what I suggest:
    - Make sure your baby gets some natural light during the day. This will help her set her circadian rhythms.
    - Make sure the baby is fed on demand during both day and night.
    - As evening approaches, turn the lights, TV, and stereo down or off. Less stimulation = calmer, sleepier baby.
    - If your baby enjoys a nightly bath, incorporate that into your routine. The bath is a good cue of impending bedtime.
    - Nurse as much as possible during the evening hours, so that your baby really tanks up on calories for her first stretch of sleep, which is generally the longest.

    If you are looking for a good book on infant sleep, I suggest reading Elizabeth Pantley's "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" or La Leche League's new book, "Sweet Sleep".

  4. #4

    Default Re: How to sleep for BF working mom

    Mommal took the thoughts right out of my head.

    I was like you before I had my baby. I was so concerned about how she was going to fit in with our life, careers, etc. I promise you though, the moment they put your baby in your arms all of that concern goes away. The very last thing you'll be thinking about is going back to work.

    I truly believe the sooner you abandon the expectations of fitting the baby into your life the happier you will be. Babies don't follow instructions and schedules and they certainly don't care about YOUR needs. Setting expectations only leads to disappointment and frustration. If you can adapt your life to baby's sooner rather than later the more rest you'll get and life will normalize much quicker.

    I know you said you're not interested in co-sleeping / bed-sharing, and neither was I. However after 4 weeks of a cluster-feeding high-needs infant, I found we were passing out on the glider or couch every night which is highly dangerous. I was getting 2 hours of sleep per night for almost 4 weeks. I felt like a terrible mother all waking hours because I was deathly exhausted. Once we started bed-sharing, she slept better and my husband and I both slept better. At 8 weeks we're getting about 8 hours of sleep a night, briefly interrupted by about 3 spaced baby-initiated nursing sessions. It's not a permanent solution of course, but you will be desperate to get some rest by any means necessary. It changed everything for us. All I'm suggesting is to stay open-minded and don't feel like a failure if you adopt practices you previously ruled out.

    As far as nursing to sleep, my baby has required different things to fall asleep throughout her short first 8 weeks. Some days she nurses to sleep, some she wants to be rocked/bounced to sleep, some days she puts herself to sleep by fussing or sucking her hand. She naps on her own throughout the day, which shows she doesn't absolutely have to nurse to sleep. People always say the same things about encouraging sleep, "Don't play music or else they'll have to have it... Don't rock them or else they'll have to have it..." You get my point. Your baby will show you what helps her sleep, and I promise you'll be happy to accommodate when the time comes.

    You might have an easy baby who happily sleeps on her own, in a crib or bassinet, and without any comforting influences. But if you don't, roll with the punches and find what works. Keep an open mind and be ready to adapt, sometimes on a daily basis.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How to sleep for BF working mom

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post

    First, let go of the idea that nursing a baby to sleep makes her dependent on nursing in order to go to sleep. Babies and young children are dependent on adult help for sleep regardless of how they are fed or whether or not they are nursed to sleep. Refusing to nurse to sleep will just make the job of getting your baby to sleep harder for you, without making it easier for anyone else.
    I agree with this completely. I tried to "teach" my son to sleep without BFing to sleep but all it did was make bedtime take hours. And we did this for a couple of months at different ages. Sleep is part of the baby's temperament and they will eventually be sleep independent. My son, despite trying for months, at different ages, struggled with falling asleep until after his 3rd birthday. With my daughter I plan to nurse her to sleep as long as it continues working, even if she is an older toddler.

    As for co-sleeping, even if you don't want baby sleeping right next to you, keeping them in the same room helps cut down on the amount of time you are up and also helps baby sleep through the night sooner. Many moms on this forum have had success with keeping baby in their room for the first few months, then eventually starting baby in their own crib for the first part of the night, until the first night waking, then bringing them into a "family bed" for the rest of the night. If you want to keep baby close but not in your bed, you could also try attaching the crib to the side of your bed like a side-car. There are many online tutorials on how to do this safely.
    My little man was born 12/17/2010.

    Baby girl was born 4/30/2014.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How to sleep for BF working mom

    It is true that you can't know in advance what your baby will be like, how you will feel, etc., etc. but I personally think doing something reading/research now about infant sleep is a great idea.

    Here's the one thing I wish I had known before my first child was born:

    Newborns generally get tired every 1 to 2 hours. Said another way, they can only stay awake for 1 to 2 hours before they will start fussing and need to sleep again.

    I had no idea that the periods of happy wakefulness would be so brief. I actually questioned my milk supply because, for example, I'd feed baby when she woke from a nap and she'd start fussing 90 mins later. I assumed that meant she was hungry and, in fact, she was tired.

    Most women on these boards co-sleep and I love it, but I tried it with both kids and hated it both times. I'd wake up so stiff and sore because I felt unable to move during the night. Additionally, as my baby got older I felt like we were waking each other up, leading to less restful sleep for both of us. So, while I do agree with the others that it's a good idea to keep an open mind about it, it's ok if it does't work for you.

    I do think nursing can become a sleep association that is difficult to break. That's not a popular opinion on this board so I don't want to say more as I do not wish to start a debate. Please feel free to PM me if you'd like to start a private conversation.
    Last edited by @llli*mamawin; January 22nd, 2015 at 11:07 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How to sleep for BF working mom

    I do think nursing can become a sleep association that is difficult to break
    Just to show how you can't make any decisions about sleep ahead of time, and all babies are different, my kids did not nurse to sleep beyond the first few months. My daughter occasionally would, but not most nights. Both of them fell back to sleep nursing during the night, but we usually had to go to a pacifier once they'd stop nursing and start getting mad. I was convinced I wouldn't co-sleep (because I had read so much literature about how bad it was) but the first night home from the hospital my little girl woke up every time I put her in the bassinet next to the bed. So at 3:00 a.m. we dug out the co-sleeper that someone gave us as a gift. All was better! Just be prepared for a variety of situations and keep an open mind, like everyone says. Even if you don't plan to co-sleep, I'd get the bed ready in case in the middle of the night you decide to put baby in bed next to you to get some rest.

    I have worked full-time with both babies, starting at 3 months. I get up at 5:00 a.m. and get to work by 6:30 a.m. Just be prepared to go to bed early many nights and for less quality time with hubby for a while (DH and I were together 12 years before having baby, so we were fine with that).
    Mom to my sweet little "Pooper," born 10/12/11, and "Baby Brother," born 6/23/2014, and married to heavy metal husband. Working more than full-time, making healthy vegetarian meals for family, and trying to keep up with exercise routine.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How to sleep for BF working mom

    I do agree that nursing can become a sleep association, but the question of how hard it is to break and when is the best time to break it is where the child's individual temperament comes into play. I shared my earlier story to point out that I attempted at multiple times to follow conventional wisdom to get my son sleeping independently as an infant and all it did was create stress in our lives and in the end it never really worked. Along the same lines, I often hear people say if you co-sleep you have to get the kids out of your bed by some specific age of "you will never get them to leave". Children's development is not like a textbook, so would warn against making assumptions about what babies should be doing at certain ages or trying to avoid an assumed problem before it exists.

    I also hate co-sleeping but do it for the last few hours of the night out of necessity, as I tend to dose off while night nursing and it is safer in my bed than sitting in a chair.
    My little man was born 12/17/2010.

    Baby girl was born 4/30/2014.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How to sleep for BF working mom

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*sassypants View Post
    I do agree that nursing can become a sleep association, but the question of how hard it is to break and when is the best time to break it is where the child's individual temperament comes into play.
    I couldn't agree more. In addition, I think it's an open question whether or not a nurse-to-sleep association is even a problem. For some moms, sure. But for everyone? No. My kids nursed to sleep at bedtime and that was nothing but a plus for me, because it made bedtime so easy. I didn't have to rock, or sing lullabies, or give back-rubs, or whatever. I just nursed and then the kids were asleep, like magic!

    Sassypants also gave excellent advice about avoiding assumed problems. With child development, it really pays not to borrow trouble from the future. And that doesn't just apply to sleep or breastfeeding or solids or any other aspect of babyhood- it applies broadly, throughout childhood. Just try to enjoy the stage you are in, and don't try to change anything that isn't a problem at the moment. When something does become a problem, then get in there and make changes!

  10. #10

    Default Re: How to sleep for BF working mom

    Thank you so much everyone for all the feedback! It is very helpful I am someone that is an extreme planner and I like to be well prepared and ahead of the game, which is why I'm already thinking about these things. It's hard for me to say "I'll just wait to see what the baby is like" because I am someone that needs to have things in order (I know, better break that now!) I appreciate all the feedback.

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