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Is Not Sleeping Normal For The Breastfeeding Mama?

Wow! Time sure does fly by when you're having fun. It does so even when you're tired, struggling, and looking for encouragement. Time is fleeting. This is one thing I've learned significantly through my motherhood journey. Luckily, I recognized this early on and I've consciously been enjoying every moment by being invested in every second of every day that I have with my daughter. One of those moments I cherish is our breastfeeding time. Now that I'm a working mom, I do feel that #momguilt of not being there to nurse her during the day so, I've been pumping at work and nursing her on-demand at home which includes at night for the last 11 months. Yowza Mama!

Recently, she's been waking every 2-3 hours to feed, but what I notice is that she isn't really hungry, rather she wants the company. And if I'm being real, I like that she wants to be with me. I want to be with her too. But, to what extent? I want to give her the very best of everything and I have to be fair and say that sleep is a MAJOR factor in her development. Who am I to be so selfish to deprive her of that? Not to mention, I AM BEAT! And so is her dad. I mean, he gets up with her too. It's crazy. Here is what her schedule has been lately:

  • Sleep between 6-7

  • Wake to feed at 9:30, 12 am, 2 am, 4 am, 6 am and if we are lucky she will sleep until 7, but usually not. At 11 months that is not necessary. Her sleep is more important.

I've been so reluctant to drop a feeding for a few reasons. Some selfish and some out of fear my supply will drop. In my mom's groups, they have all told me that it's normal for her to wake that much. I've spoken to IBCLC's about it and they concur that it's normal. But when I talk to sleep coaches and doctors, they agree it's not helping her. Plus, my motherly instincts have told me that it's time. I've started to feel like I'm enabling her and it's simply not working for us anymore. So, what do we do now when I clearly don't believe in the Cry It Out Method? I talked to a couple of other breastfeeding moms I personally know and trust. They both said that she is feeding that much out of habit, not a necessity, and to take out one feeding for now. So, I texted Eric and said we have to figure this out. He was all in.

Well, as you know, we did the sleep training with Well Rested Baby and got Stella to fall asleep on her own. Now, we put her down for bed or her nap and she goes to sleep without the 40 minutes of rocking and singing and nursing. WHEW! That was a big deal. Letting her cry it out at such an early age was not an option. I did a ton of research and it was not going to happen at my house. I still believe that. Now that Stella is capable of much more and understanding things, letting her cry a little is not a bad thing. For us, it was more about cutting out one night feeding and not so much about letting her cry herself to sleep. Here is what we did to cut one of her night feedings:

Day 1

  • Bedtime: 7:30 (because she woke from her 3rd nap at 5 pm)

  • Dream Feed: 9:30

  • She woke to feed at 11:30 and we didn't go in. We watched her from the monitor to make sure she was okay and gauge if she truly needed us or if she was just verbalizing her protest. She was protesting so we left her to soothe herself. She didn't get into hyperventilation mode like I thought she would. Winning! After a few minutes, she began calming down and lying down with intermittent whining. At that point, Eric went in and gave her pacifier with no words, touching or interaction. She went to sleep.

  • Nursed her at 1:30 and then again at 4:45.

  • She woke up at 7 am.

What a freaking difference! We ALL woke up well-rested.

Day 2

  • Bedtime 7 pm

  • Fed 11:30 and then again at 6 am. She woke a couple of times in between but not crying as if she needed us. She went right back to sleep and we all slept really well.

It was an exercise in trust for sure. I need to trust that she isn't going to miss us so badly that she will cry and scream for hours on end. She needs her rest as do we. She can trust herself to fall asleep on her own and not wake up so often.

What does this mean for my breastmilk? Well, so far, I have no drop in supply. It's still early so I'll keep you posted. My breasts were really full this morning, naturally. She is ready and my body is ready too. I am pumping every three hours when I'm at work and when I'm home I'm nursing her every three hours. The moral of my story, listen to yourself and know when your're baby is ready to make the changes you feel.

You can always stay tuned in real-time on my IG. Do you have any stories to share?

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