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Thread: 9 Hours of Sleep??, Supply, Dream Feeds

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Default 9 Hours of Sleep??, Supply, Dream Feeds

    My 11 month old baby slept for about 9 hours straight last night and the night before. As a nursing mom, this has me feeling really unsettled. (I'm also a little concerned about getting plugged ducts or mastitis.)

    Lately (I say, "Lately," as my baby's sleep has varied through different stages.), my baby usually has about 3 feeds every evening before falling asleep for a longer stretch of about 5-7 hours. Then, there is *at least one early morning feed before waking up for the rest of the day.

    We don't bed share, but my husband and I do a version of cosleeping where our baby sleeps near us, but also kind of in its own area. We all sleep in one large, but kind of sectioned off bedroom.

    I'm also a stay at home mom and feed my baby on cue, which is usually every hour or hour and a half during my baby's awake hours--except lately my baby has decided not to eat sometimes when offered the breast in favor of walking, exploring, and playing, which could lead to a two hour stretch or so between feeds. Sometimes, it's just intense distractibility. Thus, there's been less feeds at times during the day, and, now, less at night!

    My baby has done this long stretch of sleeping thing before intermittently over the past 6 months or so--where there might be a night or 2 of sleeping 8-9 hours straight and then it's back to a more frequent nighttime nursing pattern.

    Unfortunately, in the past, I just let my baby sleep and continued to feed my baby whenever the baby woke up. I never thought much about it until recently, probably because I did my best to feed my baby very frequently through cluster feeds, growth spurts, and during the day as my baby got older.

    Now, I realize that less nursing at night can be a very negative thing for a nursing mom and baby. I'm still learning so much, but it seems that less night time nursing can lead to diminished supply, early weaning, return of the menstrual cycle in mom, and probably more negative things I'm unaware of at this time.

    Even though I knew much more than most going into nursing, I certainly wasn't as informed as I personally would have liked to have been due to circumstance. I know so much more now about nursing than I did at the beginning of my nursing journey, and I continue to learn more all the time. I suppose I might not be giving myself enough credit, but there is still so much I would have done differently with the knowledge I have now!

    I felt unsettled the past two nights when my baby didn't wake up for some of the usual night time nursing sessions, and I almost woke my baby up to dream feed both nights (Is it called dream feeding when you feed a baby that's already asleep?). However, I went on to bed certain that my baby would wake within the hour, but that never happened to my surprise and dismay.

    It also seems, based solely on what I've read from other moms on this forum, that growth can slow in babies around this time. I'm worried my supply will dip due to less night time nursing, and my baby's growth might slow even more.

    Should I be concerned about these longer stretches of sleep? Will my supply be affected? Will my baby's growth be affected? It seems I might be ovulating, but will menstrual bleeding be more likely to start now? Would dream feeding help? Is the less nightly feeds being affected by how we're cosleeping? Does this increase the likelihood if me getting plugged ducts or mastitis (I've had a plugged duct and mastitis before)?

    Any information and education you can offer me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your help!
    Last edited by @llli*thawingsnow; March 20th, 2015 at 10:24 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: 9 Hours of Sleep??, Supply, Dream Feeds

    Hi mama, I think you're doing great. I really knew barely anything about breastfeeding until I was nursing my third child. So you're way ahead of where I was with my first child!

    I don't think your baby sleeping a long stretch for a couple nights at age 11 months is a cause for concern (in a newborn, yes - but not at this point). Especially since you are nursing on demand (and frequently) the rest of the time. A long stretch at night without nursing is more problematic, in my opinion, for mothers working outside the home, because they are relying on the pump to maintain supply during daytime hours, which may not be as effective as nursing. Another problematic scenario would be a mother who is intentionally scheduling or spacing out feedings, in which case baby may not be nursing enough over 24 hours to meet his nutritional needs and maintain mom's supply, but that does not sound like it is at all the case with you. However, it is never wrong to nurse baby - perfectly fine to dream feed at night if you are feeling too full or simply if you are worried! Just as you cannot overfeed baby at the breast during the day, you also can't overfeed at night. If baby doesn't want to nurse, he won't - though most babies will instinctively nurse in their sleep.

    Yes, growth does slow as baby gets older. This is perfectly normal. That's why it's a growth curve rather than a growth line - rapid in the beginning, then slower. Also, this explains why baby's milk needs are fairly constant over the first year even though he is getting bigger. And, once he turns a year, solids will gradually start to provide more and more of his nutritional needs, with breastmilk becoming complementary. As this happens, supply will gradually drop. So, you are coming to the point where this will naturally start to occur. Again, all normal and fine. The beautiful thing with breastfeeding, though, is that you do not need to think about this if you are nursing on demand and offering frequently. Baby will drink what he needs, and your supply will match what he drinks. Again, the equation may be a bit different if there is pumping involved, so if you are reading posts from moms who are working and pumping, you may see more worry and concern about supply. Because in this case, you are trying to simulate baby's demand with the pump, which can be hard to do.

    Some mothers do find that baby sleeping longer stretches at night brings the return of menstruation. However, it's also possible that you would start menstruating at this time even without baby sleeping a long stretch at night. The time of return of menses is very variable from mother to mother, with the average of 14 months for mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding - again you are not so far off from that at this point. And yes, supply can dip in the days leading up to your period, but baby's natural response if that happens will be to nurse more frequently and/or longer to get your supply to meet his needs, so again, no need to worry!

    If you are prone to plugged ducts and mastitis, then yes, you do want to be careful about that. Go ahead and nurse baby at night if you are feeling too full, and if he won't nurse, you might want to try hand expression.

    Babies usually nurse the most when they are in bed with mom. If you are worried about baby not nursing at night that is certainly something you could try.

    ETA: I also think it is a very normal part of motherhood to look back and think, "I wish I had done that differently." You're doing great, don't be hard on yourself.
    Last edited by @llli*bfwmomof3; March 20th, 2015 at 05:11 PM. Reason: Add something

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: 9 Hours of Sleep??, Supply, Dream Feeds

    Excellent advice from the PP! I just want to reiterate that nursing on cue doesn't have to mean that you always wait for the baby's cue. You can offer to nurse whenever you want to, as well!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2015

    Default Re: 9 Hours of Sleep??, Supply, Dream Feeds

    I'm also facing a similar situation, though my baby is 4 months old. I try to nurse her as much as she would like during the day to make up for the nights.
    So far she has been sleeping longer stretches for about 3-4 weeks and she has kept it up (Anywhere from 6-9 hours). I too was/am concerned about my supply but if I go by her weight/output everything seems ok. When she first started doing this I was a bit engorged in the middle of the night, but now it seems my body has adjusted.

    You're doing a great job I too am learning so much about breastfeeding. The nursing mother/child relationship seems to be something that is always changing but in other ways always the same.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2014

    Default Re: 9 Hours of Sleep??, Supply, Dream Feeds

    Thank you so much for all of the wonderful information and kind words from everyone!!! I am very grateful for the responses. They are so helpful.

    Here is what happened the past two nights:

    The night before last, on its own, my baby went back to what has been its feeding and night waking pattern lately without me intervening or dream feeding. My baby went back to having 3 feeds before falling asleep for that longer stretch of 5-7 hours. Then, my baby had an early morning feed and went back to sleep for a couple of hours or so before waking for the day.

    Last night was a little different. As usual, my baby had the typical first feed that kicks off the bedtime and nighttime feedings and fell asleep for a while as usual. My baby usually wakes up 30 minutes to 1 hour or so after that first bedtime/nighttime feed to eat again. When my baby didn't wake up after an hour, instead of waiting for my baby to stir or cry a bit for another feed, I picked up my sleeping baby and let my baby dream feed. My baby normally eats at both breasts at this time, but this time my baby only ate from one although the sucking might have been deeper and longer (I'm not entirely sure if that's a reliable indication of how much milk was actually extracted.). My baby could not be stirred enough after eating from that first breast to eat from the second, despite me stroking my baby's cheek a little and letting my baby rest on the other breast for probably about 20 minutes.

    I went to bed shortly after this. Then, my baby skipped that usual 3rd evening feed and slept 8 hours until the usual early morning feed.

    Therefore, last night was a bit different with the dream feeding and still the longer stretch of sleep for 8 hours this time.

    It still bothers me a little that my baby is going this long between feeds. Like bfwmomof3 mentioned, I had a feeling that since my baby as not a newborn (or maybe not even under 6 months of age?), that this longer stretch without eating during the night was probably not a huge concern nutritionally. There's also a part of me that feels like this might be very temporary, and much more frequent night wakings for various biological and developmental reasons (severe teething, milestones, etc.) might be on the horizon. Still, 8 to 9 hours feels like a long time to go without eating.

    Is this longer stretch of sleep an age related thing as my baby gets older? Of course, just a few weeks ago, my baby was waking much much more frequently than now!

    What is considered the average amount of time a frequently nursing baby of this age (around 11 months old) is sleeping per night? Is that even quantifiable??? It seems there can be so many variables depending on the child and family. Even so, it might give me a jumping off point. Sadly, all I really feel I have to go on as far as statistics go are websites that do *not* encourage nursing, nursing to sleep, or gentle parenting.

    As a side note, my baby is continuing to have at least one time a day where it is insistent about waiting 2 hours before eating, rather than the usual hour or 1 & 1/2 hours between feeds, despite my offering the breast. This increases my concern about feedings a bit, because, it seems at the moment there are at least a few skipped feedings total, between the stretched out day feedings and the occasionally skipped night feedings.

    ***Maybe my baby is getting out more milk at each feed?*** As others mentioned, there's no way to overfeed a baby, but sometimes I wonder about underfeeding.

    My husband and I have done cosleeping since our baby was born. Our baby started out sleeping right next to me. We gradually moved the baby a little farther away from our bed as time passed, but the baby is still close even now. To give you an idea of how close our baby has been to me these past few nights, the head of my baby's crib is just eight small steps from the head of my side of the bed even though it is in an only slightly divided area of its own as well.

    Had I known just a little more about bed sharing (I was aware of some info about bed sharing, but not all.), and had I known all of the qualifications for LAM (http://www.llli.org/nb/nbsepoct06p196.html), my husband and I probably would have done things differently. That being said, the largest thing I can gather that I erred on concerning LAM was not bed sharing for all of baby's sleep, but perhaps they meant that cosleeping would also have sufficed for ecological breastfeeding in the above citation.
    I'm not sure if we'll ever have another one, so it would have been wonderful to get some things correct the first time around. We had several things beyond personal preference that kept us from jumping into bed sharing initially, and more information would have helped.

    My husband and I are wondering if moving my baby's crib even just a few feet closer might help our baby to wake to eat more at night. We've already moved the crib a foot closer today, (so now it's 7 small steps away from me rather than 8 steps) and hope to perhaps move it maybe 2 or 3 more feet closer if we rearrange some items.
    Do you think this would help have more night feedings? Should I set an alarm to wake myself up to encourage an extra feed or that third evening feeding?

    It is also really helpful to know that many women's menses return around 14 months. There are innumerable benefits my baby is receiving from nursing, and that's my main concern.
    However, it's exciting to think that I'm also receiving benefits from nursing--maybe some benefits I'm not even aware of yet and maybe scientists aren't aware of yet either. My husband and I never really thought we'd get pregnant because of the extremely severe case of the endometriosis I had. For some women with endometriosis (not all!), pregnancy and/or breastfeeding can offer a reprieve from some of the unfortunate side effects of endometriosis. There is an article in Italian on this website that even documented one woman's personal experience where she felt that breastfeeding cured her endometriosis. Here is a link to that article: http://www.llli.org/lang/ital/italmamma46.96.html
    I know this woman's experience is not necessarily the case for every woman with endometriosis, but it is interesting that the cessation of menses has helped some women recover partially or completely from the disease.
    Thus, for me, each month that I can prevent menstrual bleeding and even ovulation can mean another month of important health benefits.

    If there's anything that I can do to prevent the return of menstrual bleeding and even ovulation (even one more month), I'd be interested to know about it as it would be of great benefit to me and my entire family.

    Thank you so much for your help!
    Last edited by @llli*thawingsnow; March 22nd, 2015 at 06:22 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: 9 Hours of Sleep??, Supply, Dream Feeds

    Hmm, I think that's really interesting about the suppression of ovulation/menstruation helping endometriosis. It makes sense.

    I don't know the exact answer to your question about how many hours a breastfed 11 month old typically wakes at night. I'm sure there's a wide range. My impression from reading posts on these forums is that many babies that are bedsharing wake quite frequently to nurse, some want to nurse "all night long." Of course, there are also babies who sleep longer stretches (mine fell into that category) but I think their mothers tend to post less about that!

    Is your baby eating a lot of solids? In theory if baby has ramped up on solids quickly, maybe he is transitioning more rapidly to having a more solids-predominant diet and needing a bit less breast milk to get by.

    Until I got to the part about the endometriosis, I was thinking to myself that you were perhaps worrying about this too much. But, since you do want to delay menses as long as possible, my next thought was that perhaps bedsharing might be worth trying? Is there a reason you don't want to? Short of that, I'm sure it won't hurt to move the crib closer. Of course, there's no guarantee that baby will nurse more; perhaps he is a particularly sound sleeper. Or, as you mention, maybe this is a temporary phase; at around a year the one-year molars start coming in, and baby is heading to the big developmental milestone of walking, so that is often a time of more nighttime awakenings.

    In terms of 8 or 9 hours without feeding, if you think about it, many people DO sleep "train" their babies and their babies do actually sleep those long stretches, often at a much earlier age. In fact many pediatricians recommend this - which is really detrimental to breastfeeding, but, the point is, babies actually can get the nutrition they need over the remaining 16 hours of the day. The average milk intake of a baby is 24 ounces so if baby is drinking 3 or even 4 ounces every couple hours he can meet his needs. Again, this is not something a breastfeeding mother should force (ie a long stretch at night), in my opinion, since there is a risk of it impacting supply, but if baby is doing it on his own, it does suggest he is getting the milk he needs at other times.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: 9 Hours of Sleep??, Supply, Dream Feeds

    There's a big range of normal when it comes to infant sleep. Some babies sleep all the way through without waking, some wake a few times a night, some have a single longer stretch of sleep followed by frequent waking, and some wake frequently all night long.

    When your period does return, maybe talks I your doc about different forms of hormonal contraception? My understanding is that most of them work by convincing the body that it is a little bit pregnant and thereby stopping ovulation. I wonder if something like the Mirena IUD would be a good choice, as it can thin the uterine lining in addition to stopping ovulation.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Default Re: 9 Hours of Sleep??, Supply, Dream Feeds


    IME this is an age where many babies are just a little bit disinterested in breastfeeding. My little one is also eleven months. He's exhibiting the same behaviors you describe, even while bed sharing. This was the age i began attending LLL meetings regularly as I was nervous about my oldest's sudden change in habits. I was told to just keep offering and he'd pick back up, which indeed was the case. After that I didn't see a chunk of sleep longer than 4 hours until he was almost two.

    My littlest sleeps from 8-7 approximately every night. If he naps poorly, he'll often go to bed earlier. I'd say he normally stirs in his sleep looking to nurse 2-3 times a night. That's a total guess though. I don't keep track.

    Some of my youngest's refusal to nurse right now seems to stem from a very basic form of independence. He's gotten very toddler like this week (he's walking! Signing for milk! ) and saying when and where he eats is the most control he has right now.

    I stumbled across the above article a few weeks ago. I'd had extremely painful periods for years before having my first child but zero issues since. The article made me wonder if I'd shed enough uterine lining after delivering the babies to eliminate my cramping. But i think you're totally onto something as I just saw lowered estrogen as a preventative measure for endometriosis. I have no advice on how to keep your cycle at bay though. I was nursing two kids this time and still had it come back at 7 weeks postpartum.

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