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Not Sleeping - Zer Netmouse
December 19th, 2010
11:22 am

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Not Sleeping
There are various things lack of sleep does to a person. It drags on your energy and messes with your mind. Without solid REM sleep you have dificulty processing the events of the day. Without sleep period you have dificulty thinking, and other things that follow thinking, like, say, speaking, planning, focusing, tracking things. Throw in a neat medley of hormones and a baby to deal with and, well, fun!

(Actually, the baby is a lot of fun... But.)

Rosie is wanting to eat basically every two hours, around the clock... still. In my new mom's group most of the other babies are sleeping at least 5 hours in a row, many of them from 11 pm to 6 am. Rosie did sleep 5 hours in a row a couple times, two months ago, back when I was regularly pumping in the morning and Brian was giving her a bottle of that in the evening to supplement and let me sleep. Back before my incision went south. Before the push for Brian to finish writing his thesis. Back when I got four-hour blocks of sleep.

I miss that.

Rosie had her 4 month checkup Friday. Her growth is fine. She's 26 inches long, 13 lbs, 15 oz in weight, 17 inches in head circumference. Her pediatrician asked if she's laughing yet, which she isn't, although she's sort of giggled a couple times. And then we talked about sleep.

sigh.

He recommends we try to teach her to fall asleep on her own in her crib, move the crib out of our room, and otherwise practice "parental fading" when putting her down to sleep, including gradually reducing the amount of time she spends eating during the night (11 pm to 6 am) at each feeding. We moved her crib into her room Friday evening. For two nights she has slept in there, with us in our room across the apartment, with the door closed. She still wakes up every two hours, like clockwork. She's awake for 20-30 minutes, eating, then goes back to sleep. Usually she goes back to sleep easily but sometimes she seems to be hungrier than what I can feed her. Last night she wouldn't go back down after she got up and came and saw Christmas lights on the tree for the first time. Which could also be related to the fact that I stayed up during a block of time when I often sleep, which hurts my milk supply. I ended up having to wake Brian up so I could nap a bit and generate more milk. She stayed up, fussing, until I was able to feed her again, and then she went to sleep. (I tried giving her water but it didn't seem to help.)

If I can get more sleep, I'll produce more milk, and she sleeps better. It's a bit of a chicken and egg problem, but I'm hoping with Brian free more of the time we can make good headway on it.

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From:bryanalexander
Date:December 19th, 2010 04:48 pm (UTC)
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Hang in there. I was going to say "I remember that time", but both my wife and I have a hard time summoning up the memories... due to sustained lack of sleep, of course.
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From:netmouse
Date:December 19th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
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right. :)

Thanks.
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From:amanda_lodden
Date:December 19th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
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Since I have no children of my own, I have to borrow another couple's story:

When Alex was born, his pediatrician recommended one formula feeding a day to supplement nursing, because breast milk doesn't contain much Vitamin D, and infants shouldn't be out in the sun too much to produce their own. That meant there was one feeding a day that his father could give him, and while Alex definitely preferred the breast milk, his mother liked having Daddy do one of the middle-of-the-night feedings so she could sleep.
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From:gilraen2
Date:December 19th, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC)
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i am going to tell you something that is contrary to modern medical thought. other new (ish) mothers to whom i have proposed this looked at me as if i were suggesting they dance around the child with bones and feathers chanting satanic verses. i was a new mother in the 70s. and i got my baby care notions from my mother (who raised six in the 30s-50s) and my older sister who was an OB nurse. my radical suggestion? feed the baby!

yes, yes, i know that the current thought is that babies don't need any real food until they are at least six months old and that they cannot properly "process" food until then. balderdash. look around you, almost every person you see over the age of 30 began eating cereal at six to ten weeks old. it didn't hurt them, and it does help the baby sleep through the night. whether they process that cereal effectively or not, their little tummies will feel full, and they will sleep longer.

so i suggest a little bit of baby oatmeal mixed into a sloppy, goopey consistency with some formula or breast milk and fed to the baby about eight at night. old wives tale? you betcha. but i also betcha it works.
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From:netmouse
Date:December 19th, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
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Actually, current thought is that babies can start eating between 4 to 6 months, whenever they lose the tongue reflex that causes them to push food out of their mouth, so that they swallow it instead. Some studies indicate that babies so inclined are more likely to have problems with allergies and diabetes if they start eating earlier, however.

I know a former coworker of mine would be telling me to put rice cereal in some milk for her, and we might just try that soon, but I'm going to try pumping to supplement her with my own milk first. We have some in the freezer - we might kill our emergency backup to solve our chicken-and-egg problem, knowing she can have formula if an emergency actually arises...

Thanks, for the comment though!
How is baby oatmeal different than oatmeal? Just more ground up?
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From:cathshaffer
Date:December 19th, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)
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This is a pretty common recommendation, but there have been studies and it doesn't work. :-) Human milk is actually much more calorie dense than any carbohydrate-type food you could give a baby, such as rice cereal, so if you want them to be as full as possible, a huge feeding of mother's milk is the best way to go. Good signs to look for for starting solids are sitting up unassisted, the emergence of teeth, and the baby grabbing food off a mother's plate.
From:zencuppa
Date:December 19th, 2010 06:27 pm (UTC)
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Something I did with both kids, as suggested by my Mom. Get Rosie used to taking formula from her Dad. First the Dad gets to enjoy feeding the baby, second, you get a break at night and third, it lessens the worries of not having enough breast milk at night, when you get a babysitter, and when friends or grandparents babysit or ummm sneak away with your baby *grin.*

As long as she's getting a decent amount of breastmilk (check with your pediatrician for how much) she'll still be getting antibodies from you and other healthy stuff :-)

Andrea
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From:tammylc
Date:December 19th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC)
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I was a breastfeeding purist during Liam's babyhood, and looking back on it, I wish I had been willing to do minimal supplementing with formula. I struggled to produce enough milk to keep up, especially when I was working, and it was really stressful in a lot of different ways. At the time I wouldn't even have considered doing it, but now I can't even figure out what I was thinking. No suggestion one way or another, just introducing a point of information.

Elizabeth Pantley's No-Cry Sleep Solution books are filled with good tips for encouraging sleep at all ages, highly recommended. I think I already gave my copy away, though.

*hugs*
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From:netmouse
Date:December 19th, 2010 08:04 pm (UTC)
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I already ordered the no-cry sleep solution book, yesterday. :)

Brian tried giving her formula once (enfamil) and she hated it. He said he doubted he got half of it in her, and the rest was all down her front. We could try again though.
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From:tammylc
Date:December 19th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
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The first time you give her cereal she's going to look at you like you're crazy too. When all you've ever eaten is breastmilk, then anything else is going to taste a little odd. Probably best to start with just a little bit at a time but repeated regularly to get her accustomed to the taste. And I expect there are taste differences between brands as well.
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From:jinasphinx
Date:December 22nd, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC)
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Just another data point, I was the same way with Nikolai. I really didn't want to supplement because of so many breastfeeding advocates saying my milk supply would drop and it would be the end of breastfeeding. But as you said in your post, there's also a vicious cycle with not enough sleep. Now with Keira I breastfeed her what I can, and she usually gets 4 oz of formula a day too. I feel so much less stressed-out and and exhausted (well, when I'm not sick, but that's another issue).
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From:shekkara
Date:December 19th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
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I don't know how much of a good idea this is or not, but one woman I know used to drink some guinness before her last breastfeeding, and apparently that helped her baby sleep.
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From:netmouse
Date:December 19th, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
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I have had a few sips of beer of an evening, and I didn't notice any particular change in her sleeping. Could try more, but then, I'm not crazy about beer...
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From:tammylc
Date:December 19th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
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Alcohol transmission through breastmilk is very minimal. About 10% of your blood alcohol level gets through the milk - not enough to affect baby. Some people say that beers like Guinness can help milk production, so maybe that's what was going on there...
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From:apostle_of_eris
Date:December 19th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
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Although it may be purely academic in the immediate context, I have been assured very authoritatively that nursing mothers should not smoke pot. Even at the distance of being a male non-parent, the thought of an infant with the munchies gives me a small shudder.
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From:cathshaffer
Date:December 19th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
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Guiness is an old-school home remedy to increase breast milk production. Others are oatmeal (for the mother) and fenugreek.
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From:cathshaffer
Date:December 19th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
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Anne--it sounds like Rose is going through a growth spurt. If you hang in there, she will probably settle down in a couple of weeks as your milk supply catches up. If you succumb to the temptation to offer formula or cereal, each of those calories will come out of your breast milk budget in the future, so there's no going back. That may be okay with you, but keep it in mind. At this age, it's very normal for Rose to want to eat around the clock. Our culture has certain defined expectations for babies that would be considered strange in other cultures, such as sleeping X hours without waking in the night, etc. It is good to keep in mind that many of these cultural expectations of baby behavior were developed and based on formula-fed babies in the 50's and 60's, when formula was considered to be the optimal food for babies. Mother's milk is easier to digest, which means in a rapidly growing baby, the stomach can be empty every two hours! Babies fed on formula do tend to be full longer, but they also show less growth and weight gain in the first six months.

At 13 pounds, you probably can get Rose to sleep a little longer. Try picking out her current best stretch of night sleep, or the time that she previously slept longest, and have Brian only tend her during that time. If she sees, hears, or smells you, she is going to want to nurse. It is like putting a pepperoni pizza in front of an adult at 3 AM and then expecting them not to have a slice.

Or you could go the other way and take her to bed with you. Even though you still have to be awake for the feeding, it is more relaxing and I found that having my son right there in bed with me helped me get more sleep because there wasn't the disruption of getting up and getting the baby, etc. Daytimes naps for Mom are great, too. Hang in there, and rest assured Rose's needs are completely 100% normal and you are far from the only mother with this experience. My son was a constant and obsessive nurser, and he has turned out great, hit all his milestones on or ahead of schedule and is very confident and independent as a tweener. He has shown some susceptibility to asthma and allergies, which run in our family, but is much less affected than the other kids. It makes me very glad that I stuck with breastsfeeding when I see his cousins suffering from severe asthma, with all of the medications, breathing treatments, and other problems they have had (they were all formula fed or breastfed only for a short time).

Going to sleep alone works for some babies, and doesn't work for others. If it's going to work, it will work within a few days and you will not have to listen to more than 10-20 minutes fussing. If she's screaming her head off for an hour, she may not be a good candidate for that method. If so, there are some other schools of thought on baby sleep that you can experiment with.
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From:cuppin_cake
Date:December 22nd, 2010 06:57 am (UTC)
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I second all of cathshaffer's comments and wanted to add: What has helped me save my sanity with a baby that still eats about four times a night is to perfect the side-lying breastfeeding position. I can pull him out of the bassinet, get him latched on, and fall back asleep. Eventually he wakes me up again and I burp him and switch sides. He starts out the night in his crib and ends up co-sleeping with us. It's still not ideal because he feeds a bit more frequently when he smells mama, and I know many people are not keen on co-sleeping. However, maybe you could give it a shot. I don't do this all night or every night, but when I'm really, REALLY tired it's a lifesaver.

P.S. You should consider joining the LJ breastfeeding community. It is a fantastic resource with many knowledgeable women.
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From:tammylc
Date:December 22nd, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
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Agree with previous two poster that cosleeping makes breastfeeding much more manageable with a baby that likes to eat around the clock.
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From:apostle_of_eris
Date:December 19th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
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One of my favorite book titles was a memoir of new-parenthood a couple of years ago called Two Years Without Sleep.
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