My son is just about 5 weeks old and is doing great but I would like to get some advice and perspective about our nursing habits. From the beginning, my babe was a snacker. He would feed for 8-10 mins on one boob and then pass out cold. For the first couple weeks he was eating every hour or hour and a half. I was totally fine feeding him on demand 17-18 times a day because I was not totally confident about my milk supply and was not sure he was gaining weight. I practiced gently waking him after a short feed (by burping or changing the diaper) and would put him back on the same boob to make sure he was getting the fatty milk. At our 3 week appointment with my midwife the babe had gained 20 oz in 12 days! Yay! And as of yesterday (one month appt) he gained another 13 oz in one week. So now I am confident that he is gaining at least one oz per day and that my milk supply is adequate for him.
At 3.5 weeks we introduced a bottle. I pumped and my husband gave it to him, no problem at all. I really wanted him to be able to take a bottle because 1) I wanted my husband to have the bonding experience of feeding the babe, 2) I have to go back to work eventually, 3) I wanted my husband to take over one late night feed before going to bed so that I can get a bit more sleep, and 4) I want to be able to leave the babe for more than 1.5 hours if necessary. All in all the bottle/pumping experience has been very smooth and educational as we now know how much he needs to eat in one feeding to satiate him. BUT, the process has almost gone TOO smooth if that’s possible. The eating/sleeping pattern that has developed between my husband and son is SO much better than my “up every hour” situation and I am trying to figure out why.
This is the basic pattern over the last week. I feed the babe between 10-11pm and knock him out, then I go to bed in the guest room. My husband goes to sleep with the baby in our bed and takes care of the next feeding with a bottle of breast milk. (I pump in the guest room). They both then go back to sleep and when the babe wakes again my husband gets me and I take over in the family bed for the rest of the night. So for the last week the baby has slept for at least 2 or 2.5 hours both before and after the midnight/1am bottle feeding. I’ve been able to sleep from 10 or 11- 2 or 3am each night which is fabulous because before this I was not getting more than 2 hours at a stretch and it was killing me. This has totally helped my sanity.
The problem is that once my husband brings me back into the room, the baby is up every hour AT LEAST and kind of fussy. I usually feed him every time he wakes up in the night (it’s the quickest and easiest way to sooth him) regardless of how long it’s been since the last feed. Which means we are waking and feeding every hour when I’m in the room—but when I was not in the room he was sleeping at least twice as long. So we are trying to troubleshoot why this is happening so that we all can maximize our sleep and still give the baby what he needs. I’d love to hear what you experienced mamas think about the following hypotheses or just tell me what you think the issue is.
Idea #1-- The 3.5/4 oz bottle of breast milk goes down the hatch faster and easier then eating at the boob and so he is eating more in one sitting thus satiating himself for longer. This leads him to sleep longer. When he breastfeeds he tends to eat on one boob and then pass out. I hesitate to wake him and force him onto the other boob in the middle of the night when he is conked out. So maybe he is actually eating half as much during a mid-night breast feeding session as he is during dad’s bottle session, and therefore waking up twice as often. Maybe I should make more of an effort to force both boobs in the night to make sure he's eating as much as possible in each feeding-- maybe that will make him sleep longer? The only reason I’m not sure this is the explanation is that in the daytime he eats in the same way with me but will often sleep for 2 hours in the stroller or swing after a single breastfeed.
Idea #2-- Maybe I am responding to the baby too soon, thinking he needs to be fed, but really he’s just passing gas or something, and if I left him alone or soothed him in another way, he’d go back to sleep. It could be that my husband lets him be a bit longer and things get resolved without a feed and without everyone waking up. My husband says if the babe is rustling, sometimes he’ll just stick his finger in his mouth for a minute and babe goes back to sleep. My response is always to feed the baby when he rouses in the night. It always calms him down and usually put him to sleep (for the moment.) But that’s because I have an unlimited supply of milk and hubby only has the finite amount. Am I creating the hourly schedule by responding with the boob every time he rustles?
Idea #3-- When I am in the room, the baby can smell me and it wakes him up more often wanting to be held or fed by me. We are testing this hypothesis right now. I just fed the babe until he was out cold and put him to sleep in the bed with hubby. I’m sleeping in the other room. When the baby wakes next, hubby will bring him into me and I’ll breastfeed him, put him back to bed with my husband and leave to continue sleeping in the other room. If he sleeps 2 or more hours even after eating from the boob, it must be something about me being in the room which keeps him restless. If this is the case, maybe its time to introduce him to the crib in his own room.
Any and all of your ideas and thoughts are appreciated!
Thanks for reading this tome.