My Breastfeeding Journey: Night Feedings

So, is she sleeping through the night yet?

That is not my favourite question!  Especially since most well-intentioned askers aren’t aware that the technical definition of sleeping through the night for a baby is a five hour long stretch and really want to know if she is sleeping all night long.  My daughter is five and a half months old.  She doesn’t “sleep through the night” by anyone’s definition.  Waking up 3, 4 sometimes 5 times a night can be a little wearing.  It can also lead to a trip to the library and the mountain of baby sleep books on my coffee table.  There must be a solution to this “problem”!

Of the books I borrowed, only two offered me any real insight into my problem; Nighttime Parenting by Dr. William Sears and The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.  My problem isn’t that I have a baby that wakes up during the night.  My problem is that I had lost perspective.  I don’t think there is any one label or style of parenting that describes me, but a majority of attachment parenting philosophies certainly feel right.  I needed to be reminded that being a parent is a 24 hour a day job.

Breastfeeding my daughter is my favourite part of this new motherhood thing.  I need to keep perspective about these night feedings.  They are all mine.  It’s just me and my baby.  There is nothing like watching her curl up, close her eyes and drink.  She gently caresses my face and chest with her drowsy hand and I have the privilege of helping her drift back to sleep.  I am lucky that our wakings are peaceful and calm most nights.  Sure, I am gently working on teaching my daughter to “sleep through the night”, but, until she can, I will be there for her.  

It wasn’t quite an epiphany, but gaining this perspective has lifted a weight off my shoulders.  Now, here’s a post by Nurshable I wish I was eloquent enough to have written myself!  It captures exactly how I feel about this whole sleep training business.

How do you handle night feedings/wakings?  What advice have you found helpful?

7 thoughts on “My Breastfeeding Journey: Night Feedings”

  1. My favourite part of night awakenings with my now 6 month old is co-sleeping. We have a bed in his room where the crib is, and I slept there full time for the first 3 months of his life. The lying down nursing position has been a Godsent and we inadvertently started doing it at 1 day of age at the hospital out of sheer exhaustion – he did not want to stay in the bassinet and I was so, so tired. We both drift off to sleep and I love having my baby sleeping skin-to-skin at my side. Now at 6 months, he often will sleep from 19:00 to 3:00 am and I just join him for a few feeding sessions in the wee hours.
    With another baby I would do it that way again. It saves on sleep and sanity.

    1. We co-slept from day one as well, but only until she was about three months old. It was wonderful. We never quite got the hang of the sidelying. I love the idea of it, but my boobs are just too small!

  2. I have been blessed with two gorgeous and exuberant young boys… neither of which ‘slept through the night’. In fact, both required A LOT of through-the-night-nursing… as in, they both went through stages where they nursed every hour, all.night.long.
    I did two things:
    1) When asked how my babe was sleeping, I’d smile & saying “they’re sleeping like a baby.” Which was absolutely true, it is actually abnormal for infants and babies to ‘sleep through the night’. So, by allowing them to surmise whatever they wished, I wasn’t *technically* lying.
    2) I chose to bed-share, thus making the multiple nighttime feedings a little more bearable, since I didn’t have to actually get up and out of bed and then soothe babe back to sleep.

    1. That’s a good answer! I’m going to borrow it from now on. She is “sleeping like a baby”! I bed-shared with my daughter until about three months old (it was my second favourite thing about new motherhood!). Our bed just wasn’t big enough for her when she started moving and I found she woke up more. She transitioned to her crib super smoothly. I miss her, but she doesn’t seem to miss me!

  3. I too hate that question. So what if my baby does sleep through the night?? He’s loved, and happy, and healthy and is so much more than a night’s sleep. For me, it is so empowering to me as a mama knowing that I can lift my baby (who is now 10mths and wakes for 1-2 quick feedings) to my breast and his world is righted. I cherish my sleep when it does happen but also my baby’s night time feedings, after all, they won’t last forever.

    1. I feel exactly the same, Somer. It is truly empowering and an honour to be so important to this little person. And time goes so fast! I can barely keep up with it 🙂

  4. Yep, at a year my son is still waking 1-2x a night. I hate this question as I find it seems to imply that he’s not a good baby because he doesn’t sleep through the night. I’m the only one that is “suffering” from his wakings, but most of the time I hardly notice. he’ll sleep through the night eventually.

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