Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Breastfeeding - Help Please

I'm in a bit of a pickle.  Putting it lightly.  Here's the scenario...

I didn't expect to ever feel comfortable with breastfeeding.  I certainly didn't expect to ever enjoy it. 

I did it, if I'm honest, for 2 reasons:

1. She's my last baby. This was my last chance to try breastfeeding.  I always work on the basis of "don't knock it til you try it", so I wanted to try it; for pure curiosity, and knowing that it is what the World Health Organisation recommends.

2. We lost Polly.  I probably don't need to expand on this, do I?  Something about Polly's loss and the fact that I didn't really get to experience anything with her; any bonding in real life...well, it just made me more determined to make the most of any potential bonding experiences with Baby M.

When I first started feeding her, I really didn't like it.  It was fumbly, agonisingly painful and exhausting.  I cried through every feed.  I couldn't possibly see how either of us were really "getting anything from it" but dogged determination made me persevere, nonetheless.

I focused on getting through each feed; each day; each week; each month.  And then before I knew it we were working towards feeding for 6 months.  By that point, over time, our feeding relationship had changed. It was clear that Baby M enjoyed it; and so did I.  

We've had rocky moments along the way... teething, hunger strikes, blocked ducts resulting in lumps the size of tennis balls (several times)... but we've navigated our way through them, together.  And it really is together... it's been teamwork all along, little M & I. I think that's what I love about it so much.

And now...now she's 16 months old, and we find ourselves in a bit of a groundhog day situation.

Baby M goes to bed at 7.30pm.  She sleeps soundly until midnight or so (unless teething or poorly).  But then, from midnight, she wakes and feeds hourly. 

I've gone back to work part-time now.  And I'm tired.  Very tired.  Little M, bless her, seems to be absolutely fine on the hourly wakings.  But I'm not.

The time has come to tackle the night feedings.  She's not going to like it.  I suspect, given I know how much she can scream like her little heart is broken if she doesn't get fed when she wants/needs it, then nor am I.  I'm feeling very guilty, that the very thing....feeding on demand... that I worked so hard to provide for her, is the one thing that I'm now about to take away from her.   

Is that being cruel?  Or being realistic?  Should I have done this much, much earlier?  Or is it right that I kept going til a point where...now... I can't continue any longer.  Should I somehow find some more stamina and just keep going?

We've tried me sleeping in a different room so that Daddy could settle her, and that worked well.  For a week I slept on the sofa... but the very first night I returned to our room, she started yelling to be fed again.  She's not daft.

We have a plan... "no milk at the bar" after midnight, and if she wakes after that point, then I'll offer her a beaker.  I'll be reassuring and consistent, and after a week or so of this, we'll all be comfortable with the new arrangement.  

That's ok, isn't it?  


  1. I think you have done a wonderful job breastfeeding for 16 months, many give up much much earlier, and reducing/stopping the night feeds seems like a good plan. You are right to do it when you are ready to do so (which sounds like where you are now).. ((hugs))

    1. Thank you for the reassurance Jenny, it's much appreciated!

  2. Where you are at is very normal, in my experience. There seems often to come a time when the baby wants to settle in to frequent night time snacking, and it behind to take its toll on the mother. Cosleeping can make it easier, but probably only ingrains the habit for longer.

    I have two friends both night weaning right now, actually (it works best if the other parent takes over nights for at least 3 weeks)

    Google 'night weaning in the family bed' for a nice article (dr jay Gordon) that will reassure you it's ok to change things when it's not working any more for one party in the relationship


    1. Td thank you for your comment... it's a relief to know that others have been through the same and have come out the other end! :-) I will take a look at the article... thanks. x

  3. Wow! 16 months is great going! I was in the same situation as you with both of my boys - they would feed and go to sleep OK but then woke every hour or so after midnight and I was a zombie. I stopped breast-feeding at 12 months with both and it really was not as hard as I thought. It was good to have my body back to myself and the sleeping patterns changed. They learned to go to sleep on their own and not on the boob which made things easier for me and I was able to sleep back in my own bed. It can be a hard decision to make but once you make it and stick to it, they (and you) are just fine. Don't stress over it. The time is right. Good luck.

    1. Gherkin, again, thank you for your comment and for sharing your experiences with me. I think I'm going to try to tackle the night feeds only at the moment... but if it results in confusion for M, then I'll have a re-think. I'd never expected to be still feeding her this far down the line so have never considered what my "exit strategy" might be ha ha!

  4. Replies
    1. Ahh.. thank you Claire, that's kind of you to say! x

  5. I breast fed my son untill he was 8 months but we combo fed from the start but he had mostly boob. HOwever, even when he came off the boob he went down find but still woke for a a feds. Now that he's two, we are down to one feed in the early hours of the morning he hasn't eaten well in the day. BUT whether or not he has a fed he still wakes EVERY night anyway between 1-4am and come to our room. SO I'm beginning to think even when he has a fed the waking is all about comfort and soothing. I'm a a loss what to do and baby #2 is on her way in a few weeks. So we may have a really crowded bed, lol. Sounds like your decision is a good one and may work. If it doesn't you call always seek assistance from your health visitor for sleep training. I wish I'd done so a long time ago but now I'm too tired to try. GOOD LUCK!

  6. Thanks MsXpat.. interesting to hear your son still wakes regardless of feeding as I'm almost certain Baby M doesn't NEED a feed, but that in our case it's become the routine. Oooh good luck for the arrival of #2 - exciting times ahead for you! x