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Thread: Breastfeeding all night! Help!

  1. #1

    Default Breastfeeding all night! Help!

    Hi, I have a 4 month old son who I think might be using me as a pacifier or who is comfort nursing. He has reflux and on Previcid so he throws up a lot! He is also a cat napper so only sleeps 20 minutes at a time during the day. At night after our bedtime routine he goes to sleep but then is up every hour and wanting to nurse. I know he's not hungry every hour. He will suck long enough to fall back to sleep. I have tried a pacifier, patting his back, and singing. Nothing works but the boob and by time morning comes besides being extremely sore I don't have anything left. With the reflux, cat napping and being able to get anything done because if he's not sleeping he wants to be held, I am exhausted but most of all I feel bad for my son because it's gotta be hard for him not being able to sleep for more than a hour without waking up and probably the reason why he's cranky most of the time. I sometimes feel like I made a mistake breastfeeding and I don't know what to do. Please help! Any suggestions would be appreciated. Sorry this was so long

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    24,794

    Default Re: Breastfeeding all night! Help!

    Welcome to the forum!

    It's really normal for 4 month-old babies to be wakeful and fussy. So much so that there are widely used terms for it: "the 4 month fussies" and "the 4 month sleep regression". It has nothing to do with breastfeeding. Bottle-fed babies do this, too! It has everything to do with teething, which is usually underway by 4 months even if the new teeth won't erupt for many months to come, and with new developmental milestones like reaching, rolling, pre-crawling, and improving communication skills. Think of all that exciting stuff going on in your baby's brain- of course he's waking up all the time. It's like being a kid on Christmas morning every single day of his life!

    Please don't worry about interrupted sleep being hard on your baby. Babies naturally have shorter sleep cycles than adults, and transition into wakefulness more easily. It's normal for them to wake hourly, and to prefer cat-naps to long naps. It is far more important that a baby gets enough sleep over all than for him to have long stretches of sleep.

    Another worry you can discard is the fear of your baby "using you as a pacifier". The breast is the original pacifier, the one nature intended babies to use. When a baby sucks on a paci, what he's really doing is using a piece of silicone as a substitute for the breast. Nursing for comfort is normal, natural, and good for a baby's health, particularly if he has reflux. Small, frequent meals are generally better for reflux babies than larger, infrequent ones, swallowing helps keep stomach contents down in the stomach, and milk contains calcium which is a mild antacid.

    No matter how frequently your baby nurses overnight, it should not be leaving you sore. Can you tell us more about the soreness, including what it feels like, when you feel it most, whether it's been present since birth, etc. Has your baby been checked for lip and tongue ties?

    Has your baby's reflux medication dosage been adjusted as he has grown? It's common for babies to outgrow their dose and then be pretty uncomfortable because they are not being adequately medicated.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Breastfeeding all night! Help!

    Thank you so much for your response. I really appreciate your point of view. Breastfeeding has always been painful to me. At first my nipples were cracked, bleeding, and very painful. I saw a consultant and got through it because I wanted to do what's best for my baby and I wasn't able to do it with my older two children (18 & 13). I thought I might be having problems with breastfeeding because my breast were too big but after seeing consultant and doing a lot of research I know that wasn't the case. I also have a fast letdown. I felt like I got the latching but he's always pulling and seems to be biting down which causes the nipple blanching or vasospasm. He also wants to sleep with my breast in his mouth and with wake up if it's not so the constant moisture and saliva doesn't help. I just feel like doing something wrong and that's why I said Im starting to regret breastfeeding. I feel like I've created a sleep association and that's why he's not getting proper rest. I understand the short nap cycles and that would be fine but he always wakes up crying and miserable and will sometimes go back to sleep 30 minutes after waking up. That's why I feel he's not getting his nap out. I was thinking about weaning him to bottles but I really want to try to stick it but the sleepless nights are making it hard. If he was a happy baby and we were getting some sleep I wouldn't care about the soreness.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Breastfeeding all night! Help!

    Lind3, that sounds so hard. My 4mo old wakes up once or twice to eat and a few more times to look for his pacifier. Just that disturbs my sleep greatly; I can't imagine what it's like for you.

    The book No Cry Sleep Solution has suggestions for breaking the breastfeeding sleep association. Many find them helpful.

    In my limited experience, when the baby is well rested, his mood is better. Also, I have found that better naps lead to better sleep at night. What is your nap routine? Where does he take naps? Do you know why he wakes up after just 20 minutes?

    My son was a horrible napper until I started working. I could never put him to sleep, because he smelled the milk and wanted to nurse. He goes to sleep more easily with his nanny.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Breastfeeding all night! Help!

    Thank you Yana.Yana for the book suggestion. I will definitely look into that. I will try anything at this point but I want to avoid the "cry it out method" that my pediatrician suggested.

    I put him down for naps in our bedroom where I rock him in my rocking chair and play his lullaby bear so he is relaxed. I know it's bad but he usually nurses to sleep but I try to unlatch right before he goes to break the sleep association. He takes a nap in my bed or pack-n-play for 20 minutes every 2 hours on average. When he wakes up after the 20 minutes he wakes up crying and I try patting his back or lullaby bear before I give in and give him the breast but that is the only thing that will soothe him back to sleep and I know he's still tired. Sometimes this works and he will go back to sleep but then in 20 minutes the cycle starts all over again. I think it's because he can't transition to next sleep cycle but if that's the case then does that mean he's never making it to next sleep cycle? This happens at night too but usually it's 45 minutes to a hour instead of 20 minutes. I've tried a swing, vibrating bouncer, and his carrier with no help. I'm also trying to homeschool my 12 year old who has some mental disorders so the lack of sleep is not good. I would be happy with just 4 hours.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
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    688

    Default Re: Breastfeeding all night! Help!

    I just wanted to say you haven't created a sleep association... Babies are born to suckle to sleep. Nature made the that way. It has a fancy term.

    Personally I find it easier to soothe to sleep via feeding than patting/rocking/bouncing as I I feed when DD stirs she goes right back off.

    Have you seen the book Sweet Sleep? It's a great resource on what is normal as well as hints etc!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Breastfeeding all night! Help!

    Thank you so much for the recommendation on the book! I haven't heard of it and I'm always looking for positive resources that will help. Im happy to hear you say I haven't created a sleep association. I was really afraid of that and possibly taking away his ability to learn to self-soothe by giving in so quickly at nap and bedtime when I know all needs have been met and he's just nursing to soothe to sleep. I wouldn't mind him suckling to sleep if it wasn't anywhere from 1-4 in a hour. I wake up exhausted and sore. My mom and sister want to help me sometimes but they feel helpless because they feel they can't comfort him.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    34

    Default Re: Breastfeeding all night! Help!

    I am reading a blog called Troublesome Tots which has suggestions for improving sleep without crying it out. She talks a lot about what is normal and what is not and about naps and night sleep.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    211

    Default Re: Breastfeeding all night! Help!

    I'm so sorry you're having sleep troubles! My little went through major trouble just before 4 months and we're still working on improving her nap schedule. Do you work? I'm a SAHM, and baby has NEVER slept well apart from me, especially for naps. What worked for us since she would NOT sleep long enough for naps was just to camp out on the couch/bed and let baby nurse to sleep and then stay there for her entire nap (sometimes she would sleep up to 3 hours that way!). It wasn't ideal, since I felt like I couldn't get anything done or have any "me" time, but just remember it's not always going to be like this. I tried to focus on just how sweet it was that she wanted me close.
    The No-Cry Sleep Solution is a good suggestion, but she also wrote a No-Cry Nap Solution that specifically addresses naps, so that might be helpful, too. Really, though, at this age "sleep training" may or may not be helpful - I found it was just easiest to go with the flow of what baby wanted/needed, even if that was harder for me to handle. Again, it's just temporary!

    Also, you say he has reflux? I'm not very familiar with it, but are the meds helping? Maybe he just wakes up because he's lying flat and reflux is bothering him? Just a thought.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    rockford,il
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    798

    Default Re: Breastfeeding all night! Help!

    http://evolutionaryparenting.com/whe...p-isnt-normal/
    Your situation sounds very similar to the issues I had with my children. Has anyone suggested cutting dairy out of your diet? My oldest displayed the painful and constant night walking while my youngest had reflux. Both situations improved within a week by eliminating dairy. Within a week my oldest had given me a six hour stretch of sleep.

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