Thursday, 6 February 2014

Plight of the sleepy baby

I would never dare complain about having a sleepy baby for fear of the slap down I'd get from all the parents who don't have a sleepy bay. But, I feel I must share the plight of the sleepy baby in the hope their unique needs and challenges can be understood.

First off, let me be clear that I am not complaining about having a sleepy baby - I know how lucky I am and I am grateful. However, it does pose its own challenges that need to be overcome. I'm not sure why Sticky is a sleepy baby. Perhaps it's the jaundice she was born with, or the fact she's so small (born 5 pound 14) or it could just be she's like her Mum and likes her sleep. Or, it could be a combination of all these things. 

I find the greatest challenge with a sleep baby is keeping her awake to feed. Each feed takes approximately one hour so in a 24 hour period, I am feeding 6 to 7 hours a day. Add onto that another hour for expressing milk and my breasts see quite a lot of daylight. The reason each feed  is so long is because I have to keep waking her up through the process. I need to switch between each breast several times and regularly burp her in an effort to wake her up. Even after an hour, she will often still be hungry and I will need to give her formula as a top up. If I didn't, I would probably find myself sitting in my feeding chair all day long.

I've had several comments from other mothers who are shocked to hear I feed for an hour. I'm not sure if they take pleasure in telling me that they only feed for 10 minutes or not, but it seems pretty unhelpful when they do. They might be lucky to have babies that are vigorous feeders, not the sleepy baby that needs more attention.

As a new parent, you can be bombarded by the amount of information and so called experts and sources that tell you demand feeding is the way to go. Demand feeding is basically letting the baby tell you when they are hungry and then feeding them at that time. The problem with a sleepy baby is they don't wake up to tell you they are hungry so you have to wake them up to feed them. There is ongoing debate about how often you should feed the baby whether that is every two or three hours or somewhere in between. I've tried waking Sticky up earlier than three hours but she is so exhausted she simply refuses to feed. I found there's no point in trying to feed her when she is so exhausted so I let her sleep and stick with 3 hourly feeds during the day and 4 to 5 hourly feeds at night. 

On average, Sticky  sleeps for about 14 hours a day. On a good night, I get 6 hours sleep in 2, 3 hour stints. If she is unsettled or has an upset tummy, I'm lucky if I get 3 to 4 hours sleep. My ultimate goal, is to have her sleeping through the night by 8 weeks. I'm gradually working towards that over the next few weeks but given she's only 2.5 weeks old we have a little while to go. But the work needs to be done now to achieve that in a few weeks time.

I can't comment on what it is like to have a baby that doesn't sleep very well, but I can imagine how difficult it would be. On the nights she's awake for 5 hours straight and we can't settle her, my heart aches for her and me in dealing with those situations. I'm very lucky that doesn't happen too often.

So many people use sleep as an indication as to whether you have a good baby or not. For some reason, they decide that sleep will determine what classification your child receives - good or bad. I am under no illusions that Sticky's current sleep patterns could change at any time. While she might sleep now, I'm sure that will change when she starts hitting growth spurts, teething and the range of other things she will experience that will disrupt her sleep patterns. But, I don't let any of that cloud my opinion of her. Like me, she has days were she feels good and others where she's under par. She has nights where she sleeps peacefully and others she's unsettled. 

None of that matters to me because we are all blessed with the child we receive and each child will have their own challenges. She is a fabulous and beautiful baby whether she sleeps or not just because she is who she is and she is mine! 

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