If you're a Mammy than you are probably familiar with the following scenario: Mama finally closes her eyes after a long day. Baby has napped well, she has eaten all her food, met her milk quota, ironing is completed, bath is emptied and baby toys have been returned to the toy box. You feel smug at how your text-book baby is so predictable.
Smugness is the devil :)
Anyway, you are rudely awoken by the shouts of your dear one who has decided that she's hungry. No amount of tucking in, bobbing or rocking is going to send her back to the land of nod.
I had such a lovely wake-up call this morning. Eve started walking a few days ago so she's probably burning more calories. The only time she ever wakes during the night/early morning is when she is sick, teething or in the earlier months - going through a growth spurt.
I'm definitely not complaining. It got me thinking about Mums who have to this on a regular basis. How do you cope?
Sleeping through the night
A few of you asked me how I got Eve to sleep through the night. I know it's on every mammy's mind in the early days. The answer is that I didn't really do anything, Eve did. Sure, I made sure she was in a position to sleep though when she was ready but I never felt pressure. It's one of the first questions everyone asks you when you have a young baby - does she sleep through the night yet? I think it's important not to fixate on it. All baby's are different, all mothers. It's definitely no the be all and end all.
With that being said I do think we can do things to facilitate the transition into sleeping right through. I am no expert (most days I just roll with it and hope for the best) but here's a little bit of info about how it worked for my baby.
Eve was quite young when she started sleeping from the 10.30pm feed to 7am - I can't remember exactly when (roughly 10-12 weeks). I was breastfeeding full time and found her very content. I started handing an expressed feed to daddy at this stage for the 10.30pm feed and it was then that she started sleeping longer.
By 4 months I decided not to wake her to feed her and instead to give her a 'dream feed'. Basically, we popped a bottle of expressed milk in her mouth and didn't lift her. In the months that I continued the 10.30 dream feed she never woke.
During this time I put her down between 7pm and 8pm after a bath, massage and with a full tummy. Now I should admit that to get her asleep she needed to be bobbed (more on that later - it was completely my own doing and I don't recommend!) I put her in her moses basket and went back downstairs, at 10.30 one of us would give her a dream feed and that was end of it until 7am the following morning.
At 5 month we decided to give Eve formula for her dream feed. All of her other feeds were breast milk. The reasoning behind this decision was that she seemed a little unsettled during the day and was fighting her naps. The addition of one formula feed at this age seemed to do the trick. I should point out that most mother's wouldn't need to do this but I had gone back to eating my pre-pregnancy food and I didn't feel Eve was as satisfied by my milk (I learned from this and won't cut back on my snacks next time!).
I dropped the dream feed and about 7 months, reducing it gradually. No problems.
To stop pre-7am waking I took a midwifes advice and never fed her before this time if she woke (after she was sleeping through). With the exception of growth-spurts in the early few months that never happened. Now she sleeps til 8am. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't let a baby go hungry. I just made sure she had the calories she needed from 7am to 7pm.
I know I was lucky. But I hope to have the same relaxed attitude when my next baby arrives. If he/she is fed, winded, warm and ready for sleep it might work. If it doesn't then the baby might not be ready. So I will patiently (I hope) wait for the cue.
Over-stimulation / Over-tiredness
I should point out is that Eve was always prone to over-stimulation. Now I know all babies can get over-stimulated but Eve took the biscuit. To this day if she is over-tired or over-stimulated there isn't a hope is hell of her sleeping through. She is one of those babes that needs down time before naps. At about 7 months old she started waking an hour after we put her down for the night - like she was waking from a nap. I couldn't put my finger on what it was for days. Then I lengthened her wind-down time before bed and she went back to normal. She was just over-stimulated.
Another thing that effects her sleep is napping. If her daytime naps are too short, too late or too few it affects her bedtime and how well she sleeps.
We have had a few wakeful nights over the past few months thanks to Eve's lovely 6 teeth - the seventh is on its way up. On those nights I don't fight her. There's no point. I facilitate the good sleep but if it's not happening it's not happening. I have learned how to choose my battles. In the beginning I was taking advice from baby books telling me not not do this and that but in the end my own logic prevailed and that works for both Eve and I.
I also firmly believe that the vibes you exude affect your baby. For example on nights where I'm very tired, I find myself wishing Eve to sleep. I don't have a calmness about me on those nights and this definitely affects my baby. If I'm relaxed and in no hurry, neither is she and she nods right off.
I think what I have been trying to say in my own waffley way is that you need to trust your instinct. If something stopped working for me I observed for a few days before reacting - sometimes it would correct itself, other times my intervention was necessary. Definitely don't panic or feel pressured by how well other babies sleep. The answer for me was to be a facilitator - give my baby every possible reason to go asleep. Also making sure she had most of her calories between 7am and 7pm did the rest (obviously not in the early days when they're on a 3/4 hour feed routine). Relax, go with the flow and let your intuition guide you - it took me many months to figure that one out.
Any thoughts? I would love to hear what worked for you. Any advice for exhausted Mums?