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anger with 5 month old's night wakings

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 



I have a five month old girl (born 7/17/11). I decided not to ever let her cry and didn't but after 3 months she started waking hourly (before that she used to sleep 5 hours and then not much after that). It's started to get to the point where every time I put her down she cries, or sleeps 10-20 minutes, and or sometimes a good hour. I tell myself that I won't get mad and I will feed her whenever she wakes up and cries (she was 12 pounds at her 5 mth appt so is hungry), but every night I end up getting super frustrated. if it was simple and just involved a 20 min feed followed by her sleeping 60 min, i'd be ok. but after feeding her 30 min and her dozing off and then crying when i put her down or as soon as i get settled back under the covers--this is making me insane and really mad at her. did dr sears really go through this? i got the ncss book but found removing her from the breast once she stops eating makes her instantly cry and doing this over and over gets me so mad it's better if i don't. There was 1 lucky night dec 31 where i put her down drowsy but awake (for once she wanted to close her eyes and not nurse!!) and she slept 5.75 hours, but otherwise I always nurse her to sleep. she used to nurse non stop but as she gets older, sometimes she can go like 20-40 min during the day without eating. sounds like other babies only eat every few hours. i've been taking lots of fenugreek and mother's milk tea since the dr thinks she hasn't gained enough weight (but i'm switching dr's cuz i think she's fine--just cuz she hasn't doubled her birthweight by 6 mth but is otherwise fine doesnt mean i should have to formula feed i dont think, she was 7lb 7oz at birth and 12 lb at 5 mths)


The thing is, even though I get mad at night, I'm not totally exhausted during the day.

For her naps I have to breastfeed her the entire time (well, sometimes she falls asleep and lets go of the breast, but I don't even try to put her down anymore) so I spent 3-4 hours a day with her dozing on my breast and it's ok--I heard that working on night sleeping first before trying to improve day sleeping can be a good strategy.


However, her needing to breastfeed so much really really stressed my husband out. He has a very stressful job and works 12 hours a day and then comes home and has to do all of the housework. I do managed to do laundry and cook, but usually the kitchen is a mess. I try to clean but then she ends up fussing so I need to feed her and go to bed early with her.


The other problem I've had is trying to do the babywearing--she pretty much hates it. I guess she just wants to breastfeed. I've heard it's bad to have them face forward but pretty much the longest she'll tolerate a baby carrier is if she is forward in the bjorn. She hates the moby and I've been starting to get her to tolerate the ergo, but maybe 20 minutes is the longest she'll take it before fussing.


anyway my most major problem is nights and how I should cope with her terrible ability to be put down. I gave up on that laying down while breastfeeding, she couldn't ever latch well and cried the whole time and it just doesn't work for us. I pull a backrest and an extra pillow onto the bed at night to feed her. However, she likes if I am sitting straight up. If I slouch down so that I can doze or get comfortable while feeding her, she starts crying and so I have to turn back on the light to make sure I can get my nipple in her mouth properly, and this gets me mad. also, she is in bed with me, and i'm afraid to move or sneeze because i don't want to wake her up so i get pretty uncomfortable.


Also, her naps are not predictable exactly. usually she can be awake 2 hours so that part is predictable. but it's hard to plan stuff and if i go somewhere I get super stressed that she's going to want to nap, and then if I have to wake her to leave, she will be crabby and unable to sleep again at home (so frustrating when sticking a boob in her mouth won't even make her stop fussing, when she is overtired).


and I can't even share stuff like this with my family (they'd say it's my fault, training her this way). And i regret ever sharing it with a lot of people, esp old people, because they say stuff like "she's got you trained!" and about her slow weight gain "well you have to feed her!" even though I feed her all of the time, and they say "well some of us don't have to luxury to feed our babies all of the time". someone even told my husband that i should only be feeding her once every 4 hours. someone else told me that she must just get foremilk since i feed her "too much".

my mom is coming to visit, we'll see how it goes... if she makes me feel bad for not being able to put her down for naps... i don't know if this is my fault that she must be always breastfed so much.

post #2 of 37

One possibility is that she is not transferring milk well, so she's getting in an hour of feeding what another baby might get in 20 min (for example).  Have you met with a lactation consultant?  That might be helpful.  They could also help with the whole weight-gain-milk-supply question. 

post #3 of 37
Thread Starter 

I have not met with a real lactation consultant. I did meet with a girl who has breastfeeding experience and she thought her latch looked good. This was a week or two after she was born, as I was trying to get baby to eat without nipple shields. The hospital gave me the nipple shields to help her latch, and later I read that that was a bad idea (she had trouble eating without them) and maybe it messed up my milk supply. She hasn't used them since a few weeks after birth.

I'm hoping when I meet with her new doctor that she won't even think there is a slow weight gain problem.

But yeah, maybe she sleeps so badly because she is a slow eater, and really is hungry. But the fact that one night she did sleep 5 hrs when she put herself to sleep means maybe it's just that when she wakes, she needs a breast in her mouth to sleep. and she used to regularly sleep 5 hours for her first few months. and maybe she just likes to nurse more for comfort. but it's true, during the weekend when I hand her off to my husband, I'm lucky if I have 20 minutes before she's fussing to eat again.

post #4 of 37

Wow.  Sounds like you're going through a lot!  It's very normal to feel anger/resentment sometimes, especially when you aren't getting enough sleep.  That said, I'm concerned about how breastfeeding is going for you; it sounds like your sleep situation is probably being caused by problems with breastfeeding.  The combination of a fussy baby who is nursing constantly and not gaining weight makes it sound like she's not getting enough milk.  There are many reasons why that could be the case, and the fact that you have a latch that looks good from the outside doesn't necessarily mean everything is going smoothly on the inside.  A lactation consultant IRL could help you track down the issue (or issues) and figure out some solutions.  Given how much trouble you're having, and how long it's been going on for, seeing an IBCLC is probably worthwhile, even if you have to travel a ways and pay a premium for that.  If it's completely out of the question, a LLL leader could provide some help.  Most pediatricians simply don't have the time or training to go through the entire workup, although some do and hopefully you find one who does.  At minimum, whoever you are seeing should check for toungue tie (some more subtle forms can be missed by less experienced clinicians, although usually it's associated with pain which you don't appear to have) and should check her weight before and after you feed her, which will give a sense of how much milk she is getting.  Alternatively, you can rent a baby scale for a day and check pre and post weights each feeding, which will help you get a sense of how she is doing over the day.  I agree with the PP that this sounds like a transfer problem.


If you do have to supplement with formula, keep in mind that you've done a wonderful job these last six months, and you're still giving your baby the gift of breastmilk -- it's not like you stop breastfeeding if you have to supplement.  I would not worry yourself one bit about how you 'trained her' or what have you' my guess is if you weren't feeding on demand she'd be in a lot of trouble.  You're doing a great job in a very difficult situation.


Best wishes,


post #5 of 37
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your long response, Anka. I usually post on baby center but don't get such helpful or thoughtful responses. I so appreciate that you think that me feeding her on demand has been necessary. I have gotten SO much criticism for this: the old lady down the street saying I'm spoiling her, her daughter saying that my baby is using me as a pacifier, a friend telling me to get her a real pacifier, my mom saying I should let her cry, my sister saying that she must not be eating and must just be comfort sucking and why don't i give her to my husband so i can cook dinner (this was when baby was younger and did feed nonstop, now she takes 20 min breaks so i can cook), my sister suggesting that i walk around with her instead of offering the breast when she fusses, sensing that my brother-in-law thinks i feed her too much, both of them thinking what a bad life my baby has because she lives under the "tent" (the nursing cover I use in public), a lady in town always commenting on how i am ALWAYS nursing her, me complaining to my sister about how ridiculous it was when a friend said I need to go on a walk alone to get out and have my husband babysit after i feed her--well i know she is never done feeding--and my sister said yes, i could go on a walk, but i just chose not to... this is addition to other comments I mentioned in my first post.

But my daughter is really happy and smiles a lot whenever she isn't eating/sleeping/or giving a quick fuss that tells me she is hungry (oh and old women telling me that she's not fussing but that she's just talking or excited about being around people, as if I don't recognize the whiny tone or know what my baby is asking--it is SO annoying when people think they know what my baby wants better than me and I have to feel like I'm bothering them by trying to get my baby back from them if they are holding her!). Also, this girl offered to watch my daughter for an hour or two, and I was like, OMG that was nice of her to offer but heck no, I even have had nightmares where I am separated from my baby and freak out because I can't feed her and she needs me. I feel so fortunate that I don't have to work so I can be here to feed her. Although I guess if I worked I'd pump milk, but the one time I did it tasted sour (I looked into why and think there must be lipases and I thawed it too quickly so the lipases ate it up and made it sour).

I unfortunately live in a really isolated place so don't have good access to lactation consultants. Still, some mom's have recommended this one lady at the hospital so I could try her. There isn't even a LLL here. There was but the lady quit doing it; I have called her a few times but we play phone tag so I gave up.

So I'm pretty worried now that she isn't normal. I think I could pump extra milk to supplement her if she needed more. When I did pump one night, I noticed that I quickly drained one breast and the one she was sucking on was still pretty full, so she must not take in a lot when she eats.

Right now I do not have pain when I breastfeed. I have discomfort because I have not found a comfortable way to support myself (always have some arm or something holding her head up and not having a pillow supporting my arm comfortably). But it did hurt to breastfeed a lot at first. And I read after 40 days that it should be easier, and was surprised after 40 days it didn't feel better. For the last few months I had a bloody and white blister sort of thing on my right nipple that hurt. But it finally was a scab and now it doesn't hurt. My left nipple/breast has been fine for months. So right now it doesn't hurt to breastfeed, but the first month or two were bad. Or if she had a bad latch, it could take a day for the nipple to feel better.

And I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about this on here (I think I read that you cannot write about crying it out), but I have gotten so mad that I've had to put her in her crib in the other room a few times so I could cool down, and I read the ferber book and the healthy sleep habits healthy child book (did learn a lot, but they made me think that she should be able to just eat a few times a night (the healthy sleep book) or not at all (the ferber book). I also started out very pro Dr. Sears but it's really been hard for us--sometimes I have to go downstairs and wake my husband up (he's on the couch with the dog so he can sleep) and he's had it with natural parenting.

There is a new breastfeeding support group in town, but I'm really unimpressed with the girl who runs it. I guess she just went to Chicago for some lactation consultant certification training that was mostly nurses, and after having read a few breastfeeding books myself, I feel like I know more than her. The handouts she gives out on stuff like introducing solids aren't very helpful (you know, just the normal stuff like starting with rice cereal at 4-6 months, when I plan to avoid rice cereal and try baby led weaning with organic bananas and avocado...). And she hasn't even heard of Dr. Sears! Still, at least it's better than nothing, but since it just started when I've gone there has only been me and 1 other person there.

Thank you so much again for taking the time to read all of this. I really don't like the responses I get when sharing this stuff so I don't even tell my family, and usually regret sharing it with most people in town because of their ignorant responses that just make me upset.


post #6 of 37

Pumping extra milk is probably a good idea, if you are able to.  You can then use a supplemental nursing system or a bottle to give it to her, depending on how much time you have available and your comfort level.  Is she able to transfer milk effectively from a bottle/SNS?


Unfortunately, you are kind of out of the realm of advice from random people phase -- because your baby isn't gaining weight appropriately, you really do need competent help in real life on a somewhat urgent basis.  Can you try again with the LLL leader you mentioned?  Can you drive a few hours to an IBCLC?  Can you find a pediatrician or family doctor you trust?




post #7 of 37

Hmmmm... I'm trying to think.  It could be a tougue tie if you've never been able to feed comfortably (which is what it sounds like).  And it does sound like she's not transfering milk.  I wish I could see her growth curve (i.e., did she gain weight at first and then level off, or has she been steadily 'falling off her curve').  Ugh.  You really do need real life help.


You're totally doing the right thing when you just can't take any more and set her down in a safe place and walk away.  That's different than a cry it out philosophy, which is what this board really doesn't host, you know?  What you're dong is protecting your baby from you losing your temper, which is a real danger.  They say "It takes two seconds to shake a baby."  So keep doing that as you need to, although I know there's a lot of guilt wrapped up in doing that.  I notice you haven't mentioned your partner... do you not have one, or is s/he not supportive of what you're doing and going through? 


Another suggestion is going to the breastfeeding part of the forum and seeing what they say -- many of those ladies are quite experienced and knowledgable (although some aren't, so take it like all internet advice for what it's worth).  Many of them don't read the baby part of these forums.


Anyway, hang in there and take it easy on yourself.  You're really doing so much for your baby... just breastfeeding (and mothering) isn't meant to be done in total isolation!



post #8 of 37
Thread Starter 

I do have an appointment with a new doctor Feb 8 (and a weight check Jan 16). I know a girl who has a baby who gained weight in a similar way to my baby, and she said this new dr isn't worried at all. her baby also is a terrible sleeper.  i have tried giving her a bottle a few times and about half the time she's been able to drink it. i'll see how the weight check and new dr appt go (maybe she'll be ok because i've been taking herbs) before i see about seeing a lactation consultant. she just went from 4 to 3rd %ile last time on the chart which the dr didn't like, but she wouldn't even look at the charts for exclusively breastfed babies, or notice that my baby acts fine other than wanting to nurse more often than other babies (actually she doesn't even know that, she just has the nurse tell me to feed her every 3 hours).

post #9 of 37

Sounds like you're working really hard at this and doing good work on figuring things out.


I just wanted to say that when you're really frustrated, sometimes putting your baby somewhere safe and getting yourself out of the space for some deep breaths is completely the right thing. That's not crying it out. That's coping.


Every baby is different and every family is different and what works for some people won't work for others. Figuring out what works for your family is the really hard part. But if the nighttime isn't working for you (and it sounds like that's being horribly hard), then it isn't working. And it doesn't matter what works for other people. It sounds like you're doing well at working on figuring out how to fix it. I wish I had magic advice, but I'm afraid I don't. greensad.gif

post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 

well the good news is she moved from the 3rd up to the 7th %ile for weight in 1 month. So she gained 1.4 lbs and is 13.4 lbs. not double her 7 lb 7 oz birth weight at 6 months, but she's not falling off curves.

the bad news is that she still wakes up whenever i put her down at night. so it can take over an hour in the middle of the night to get her back down and the longest she'll sleep is 1 hr. i guess the books say to have her learn to fall asleep without a breast in her mouth but that is hard with a baby that needs to eat!

post #11 of 37

No advice, but I wanted to say that I totally commiserate with you on so many things!  DD used to sleep 5 hours straight too, then stopped.  Thought it was the teething, and she did get BETTER after her second tooth popped through, but is not back to that lovely 5-hr sleep routine again.  I also live in an isolated area and the breastfeeding group around here doesn't meet anymore either.  DD is a frequent feeder too, so I've also had people tell me that DD is using me as a pacifier, that she's too attached, I don't let her cry enough, etc.  I have also gotten really, really angry with her.  And then afterwards, I feel so silly about it because she's a BABY, why should I be angry?  But it happens.  I've also had to put her in her crib and just let her cry as I stepped out the door to get fresh air and clear my head.  (My mom told me she had to do that with me when I was a baby.  Guess I was hard on her too as a first-time mommy!  whistling.gif)  And more too.  I just wanted to let you know you're not alone! 


If your DD is ready for it, she's now 6 months old, so maybe some non-breastmilk foods will start to take the stress off you. 

post #12 of 37

Honestly she sounds like my baby till recently. They are the same age and she was a terrible sleeper and a very slow gainer. Fortunately I live in an area where I have access to great LCs. We did a couple sessions and discovered she was not taking in enough when nursing for unknown reasons. Ive done everything I can to boost my milk supply but in the meantime even though it killed me, I started supplementing a couple bottle of formula a day. It was like magic! She seriously became a different baby. Sleeping well, not so fussy, not fussing at the breast as much. At first she would not take a bottle whatsoever but I kept at it and eventually she did. It was a learning process just like nursing. Trust me, I'm as dedicated to nursing as they come, but she needed this.

post #13 of 37

I'd also meet with an IBCLC.  My baby had tongue and lip ties and a high palate.  The ped, chiro, mw, and even an LC all that his latch was fine. His weight gain was slow, but again, that was "explained away."  It finally came to a head when the weight dropped off and my baby was just flat miserable. He wasn't sleeping, he was cranky. I caved and gave him a bottle and suddenly, my baby was FULL and HAPPY.  I got some great advice here at MDC about finding a specialist for tongue tie.  We got it clipped, we also met with a cranial sacral therapist. Along the way, I had to work hard to increase my supply since it had gotten used to out putting very little.  Anyway, we finally worked it out, but my point is, I would not accept that poor weight gain and poor sleep habits are normal. They are not. Yes, some babies are terrible sleepers, but the whole of your situation is not good. Please see and IBCLC. Google posterior tongue tie for more information about that, as well, since it's a common reason for poor milk transfer and drop in supply. Good luck!


post #14 of 37

Wow, sounds like you are doing a great job with a tough situation, mama.  Hang in there!


Just wanted to share my story with you:  At 6 months my DS went from sleeping a nice 5 hr block to being up every 1-2 hrs.  Went from being pretty independent to super clingy.  Wanted to nurse every 15-20 minutes all day.  I was like, wow, kid, aren't you full yet?  Between 6 months and 8 months he actually lost 1/2 lb.  I took a pregnancy test - turns out I was six weeks pregnant when everything changed.  It totally shot my milk supply in the foot, and DS really was hungry all that time greensad.gif.  So, I know I'm just taking a shot in the dark here, but... have you taken a pregnancy test?


Best of luck, mama.

post #15 of 37
Originally Posted by homemademom View Post

I'd also meet with an IBCLC.  My baby had tongue and lip ties and a high palate.  The ped, chiro, mw, and even an LC all that his latch was fine. His weight gain was slow, but again, that was "explained away."  It finally came to a head when the weight dropped off and my baby was just flat miserable. He wasn't sleeping, he was cranky. I caved and gave him a bottle and suddenly, my baby was FULL and HAPPY.  I got some great advice here at MDC about finding a specialist for tongue tie.  We got it clipped, we also met with a cranial sacral therapist. Along the way, I had to work hard to increase my supply since it had gotten used to out putting very little.  Anyway, we finally worked it out, but my point is, I would not accept that poor weight gain and poor sleep habits are normal. They are not. Yes, some babies are terrible sleepers, but the whole of your situation is not good. Please see and IBCLC. Google posterior tongue tie for more information about that, as well, since it's a common reason for poor milk transfer and drop in supply. Good luck!


I second the tongue tie possibility. The same thing happened to us. Everyone missed the posterior tongue tie (8 different people!) until I met with a specialist when DD was 4.5 months. My supply was shot and I had to take domperidone after her tongue tie was clipped, but DD started gaining after that. 


post #16 of 37

Wow - what a lot on your plate and not sleeping on top of that!  And getting bad/conflictin advice from unqualified people!  I agree with other posters that it's important to get to the bottom of the feeding/hunger issues first.  What about videoconferencing with a lactation consultant???  Maybe someone could guide you through taking some photos/videos to help them see if a tongue tie is present?


Speaking as someone who has had one baby (and now a second) that has a "nurse to sleep" sleep association....it doesn't get better until they start becoming accustomed to falling asleep in other ways.  It sounds like you have 2 separate issues (feeding and a nursing sleep association).  


Trust me, the earlier you try to break that sleep association, the easier it will be.  


With DD1, I successfully was able to break the nursing sleep association by about 9-10 months (she would wake hourly, sometimes after only 20 min)....it was HARD and once we'd exhausted all the no-cry options, there was some crying (with hubby in room).  With DD2 (now 3.5 months old), last night I'd had enough (she was waking hourly to nurse in bed) ....so I decided to start becoming more disciplined about putting her down when calm/awake....and then picking her up as soon as she cries (she's 3.5 months), then when calm and sleepy, putting her down again.  Because she is already accustomed to falling asleep without a boob in her mouth (e.g. sleeping in the Ergo, wrap, carseat and sometimes rocking to sleep) it wasn't too difficult...only took about 4 tries and I was able to pat her on the back to sleep.  So last night we had a record sleep in the crib of 8 hours!  Then I just brought her to bed the rest of the night...as there's no way I can stand and rock in the middle of the night (it takes me forever to fall asleep once I've fully woken up).  Previously the crib sleeping record was about 2 hours (but usually only 10-20 minutes and then the rest of the night with me in bed).  


Dd2 has only just started liking babywearing (wrap and Ergo).  It depends on her mood...but when she's tired she will tolerate it and fall asleep in the Ergo.  Then I put her down and she'll sleep in the crib 20 min or so.  However today....she actually fell asleep in the crib as I was typing!!!  Goes to show how much easier it is to break sleep associations when you start young.  6 months is still a good time....if you wait it does get harder.


What you might try is busting your butt to ensure that the FIRST falling asleep of the night happens in her bed (awake when put down).  Then subsequent awakenings just bring her to bed. (more achievable I think). Can she be calmed by rocking, etc.?  If so then this might work with persistance.  Some call it the pickup/putdown technique (Baby whisperer).  Basically what it does is ensure that when they wake up after a sleep cycle, the same conditions are present as when they fell asleep.  It's less disorienting for them that way and they will often just go back to sleep.  If you can get success with this, then you will also have a better idea of how long she can sleep before hunger hits.  They will wake up no matter what if hungry.


I would also try again to master nursing lying down.  Then you could at least sleep while she nurses.  With persistence it could probably work.  This was a lifesaver for me.  I will wake up in the night and find dd2 latching herself on....but at least I don't have to get out of bed and have trouble falling asleep again!  


But do work on breaking the nurse to sleep association for that first stretch of sleep (more achievable than some programs that insist you do this all night!).


Best wishes :)

post #17 of 37
II don't have any advice specific to breastfeeding or sleep that other posters didn't already cover. But I wanted to share something that helped me power through some rough patches. You talked about feeling as if she needs to learn how to fall asleep without the boob, and I can hear your frustration. I have felt that same frustration about different issues when I had read that my little one "should" be able to do something, but could not get her to do it. My pediatrician told me once to "wait a week and try it again. I can't even remember what it was, but it has served me well. Kid refused to eat chunkier purees? Wait a week, try again. Kid isn't drinking from her sippy? Wait a week, try again. Sometimes we have to repeat the week wait more than once, right? But what I take from it is to be patient with yourself and know that it's not a failure in you or your parenting. Their little brains are maturing all the time. You will get there, mama. The other posters have given you some great tips, i'm just here to cheer you on and offer a hug.
post #18 of 37

My DD nursed every 30 mins 24 hours a day until she was 9 m/o then every hour until 15 m/o. She had a lot of issues from the vaccines. I totally know your frustrations. Can you co-sleep with her? there is no way I could have survived if she was not in bed with me. I learned to sleep through her nursing.


When you have a high needs baby all the rules go out the window!


Also second the tongue tie rec. Get it checked!

post #19 of 37

Agreed with all the co-sleeping suggestions. My 9 month old wakes every 20 mins - 1hr at night due to intestinal pain and I have a 'no feed zone' from 6pm - 11pm, then I nurse while trying to sleep. It's the only way to survive something medical imho. It's rough, but doable. I also recommend trying to pump as much as you can, then make your husband take the baby for a full night by himself while you sleep at a hotel or friends house. Lets you recharge, and your hubby might be less bitchy if he has to deal with it all first hand. I got way more help and empathy from mine after I did that.

post #20 of 37
Thread Starter 

well we just figured out that it's tongue tie! for some reason I wasn't getting e-mail alerts that people here were posting so I just logged on now and saw that many of you suggested this. my friend sent me a blog about it a few days ago and we checked and she has it! i have an appointment with an EMT (ear mouth throat) doctor tuesday to get it clipped, she also has lip tie. i hope any any anesthetic she gets isn't harmful--I haven't found a lot of info out there about this (unlike childbirth pain relief where I've read how it does affect baby and isn't recommended). Now how should I approach her Doctor who I believe should have found this? She was examined by a pediatrician when born, then I was taking her to a family dr, and then to another family dr--why did 3 doctor's not think of this?! Next visit, what should I say to the dr? I am angry--what would you recommend?


it should be interesting to see if this tongue clipping helps. sleeping is of course taking a lot of patience, it can take hours to finally put her down and have her stay asleep. once she is asleep, for these past few nights she has slept slightly longer than 1 or 2 hours, but then she often ends up totally awake and happy in the middle of the night...

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