21 answers

Still Nursing Every Hour

My 9 week old is still wanting to breastfeed every hour. She usually feeds 10-15 min. on each breast, but she also gets very sleepy. Sometimes, she will only nurse on 1 side and then sleep for 10-15 minutes only to wake up ready to eat on the other breast. I am hoping that she will stretch out her feeding sessions to at least every 2 hours. Let me add that she sleeps well through the night (usually 6-8 hour stretches before waking up for the first time), and that her weight gain is great (born 8 lbs 9 oz., at 2 months she is at 12 lbs 10 oz). Any suggestions?

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Take her clothes off when she eats. If she's not so warm and snuggly she'll be more apt to eat before she falls asleep.

I went through the same thing with my little boy, who is now 5 months. Similar to a few others who have responded, I also used the "Baby Wise" approach. It stressed that babies must Eat, Play, and then Nap (always in that order.) Once they get in the habit of falling to sleep while eating, it will be difficult for them to ever finish a meal. And, they will always want to eat before sleeping. It takes some work to break the habit, but it is well worth it. I kept a damp cloth nearby each time I fed my son. When he started dozing, I touched him with the cloth. Also, playing with his ear kept him awake! It really helped me. Good luck.

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From a mom who nursed both her children (who are adults now) and a grandmother of 3 lovely healthy children whom my daughter and daughter-in-law nursed, let her be. You might want to nudge her to see if she'll waken when she goes to sleep at the breast, but if not, let her be. Hey, you're very lucky--that night sleeping is what's most important. I was told by my kid's pediatrician that breast milk was rich in nutrients, but was much like skim milk when it comes to sticking to their tummies, and they get hungry quicker--thus having to nurse more frequently. As she grows, she'll stretch it out. My son was still nursing every 2-3 hours when he was 3 months old. Have you tried giving her a pacifier to help hold her off a while? She may be needing the comfort of sucking.

Good luck, and God bless.

G. Ashley

I have to disagree with pumping to see if she's getting enough. No brest pump on earth is as efficient as your baby and how much gets pumped into a bottle is not a good indicator of how much milk the baby is getting. Trust me, I sold Medela breast pump products for a while and have used various pumps when my kids were babies.

My son would nod off to sleep after 5 minutes per side. He was a thin baby, but healthy and normal. He didn't nurse incessently though. My daughter on the other hand would nurse for 5 hours straight if I let her.

Sometimes the problem is switching sides too often. If a baby is nursing briefly, she may only be getting foremilk, which as someone else mentioned is kinda like skim milk. Try nursing on one side then switch every two hours. It's possible she'll get more of the richer hindmilk that way and it will satiate her for longer stretches.

S.

Hi E., maybe since your baby is sleeping for such long stretches during the night (unusual for a 9 week old breast fed baby), maybe she is playing "catch up" during the day. I would just be patient, every baby is different with their feeding patterns. Just try to get lots of sleep at night when she does so you have lots of energy during the day to feed her. Some people may say to wake her every 4 hours during the night to feed her to make her possibly go longer during the day, but I wouldn't do that as she will get used to that and you will not get as much nighttime sleep. Best of luck! F. (mom of 6 month old twin girls).

I have breastfed all four of my children so I've been where you are. Something I learned is to make sure that she empties the first breast you put her on before moving on to the other one. The reason for it is that if you stick with the 10-15 minute schedule and insist on changing her over right then instead of when the breast is empty then she isn't getting the hindmilk which is what helps them sleep longer. I agree with everyone else that you need to try to keep her awake longer while she feeds I just wanted to mention the hindmilk because I didn't find out about all of that until my first child was almost 6 months old. I did the 15 minutes on each side and it seemed like she never slept for long stretches. After I started letting her empty one before moving to the other she started sleeping real hours and I felt human again :)

Yikes!! Here's my suggestion...work on getting your baby on a 3 hour feeding schedule. Here's the basic goal:

- feed & wake time for 1 - 1.5 hours
- nap 1.5 - 2 hrs

This cycle would repeat during your "normal" day (i.e. - from the time you start your day until your bedtime). Let's say your first feeding is at 7 a.m. and you want your last feeding to be at 10 p.m., this is what your day would look like:

7am - feed & wake time (keep baby awake)
8 am - nap
10 am - feed & wake time
11am - nap
1pm - feed & wake time
2pm - nap
4pm - feed & wake time
5pm - nap
7pm - feed & wake time
8 pm - last nap
10 pm - last scheduled feeding of day
* during night time, let the baby wake you up to feed.

It may take a while to get here, but it is possible & your life (not to mention your breasts) will be much happier for it :-) This is the babywise approach to scheduling and I used it with all 5 of my children (I breastfed all of them). They all slept through the night no later than week 10 - which was a huge sanity saver for me! You can always check out the book "On Becoming Babywise" by the Ezzos. Best wishes!! J.

Has she been weighed recently to make sure she is on track with her growth? Are you drinking lots of liquids? Is she actually swallowing for the 10-15 minutes on each side? or is she just using you as a pacifier?
I'm guessing she is sleepy because she has to work hard to get enough milk -- and because neither of you is sleeping well. Do you feel like your milk lets down well and that you have enough? I'm certainly not a lactation consultant, but my five children usually only nursed for about 10 minutes total at each feeding. I know that's not what the books say, but I guess my milk comes out fast...and I always have lots. I suggest you try pumping to see how much you get and then give her the bottles of pumped milk (at least for a while). It's not especially convenient, but it will give you both a better idea of how much she is actually getting and how often. Then you can also have someone else give her a bottle for some of the feedings so you can get some rest. (You can pump once you wake up.) I'm sure you need a break. Good luck. Hang in there, and send me a message if you need someone to talk to. I imagine this is a lot rougher on you that you let on.

What you have is a lazy nurser- lol. I have had one myself plus have worked with many women with babies like this. You can teach them to be a faster nurser and in return they will be more efficient and the nursings will spread out.
I do not have time to type stuff out but you (or anyone else who needs help) can call me on my cell ###-###-#### =-)
If I have time to sit in and type I will try and do that. Just take heart you can fix this! ...M.

try rubbing the small of her back or the bottoms of her feet to keep her awake and eating... then perhaps she can "finish her meal" before getting too sleepy and then wont be hungry again for longer periods... congrats on sleeping at night though THAT IS A BONUS!!

Hi E.,

When I was nursing, I got a lot of well-meaning advice from La Leche League about feeding on demand and letting my baby eat when she was hungry instead of feeding by the clock. For Fiona, that was every 1 - 1 1/2 hours for several months. Babies should be fed when they're hungry, but they also need to develop their digestive system,stretch their little stomachs, and to be able to space their meals out as they grow - not all babies do that on their own. Totally feeding on demand assumes that your baby automatically will develop perfect habits without your guidance.

I don't think you necessarily need to set a schedule for your daughter, but it may help to stretch out her feedings by distracting her when she first asks (and she may not take kindly to this at first, but we're talking about 10 - 15 minutes, not making her wait an hour). This will help ensure she's really hungry, which may keep her focused on her meal longer once she gets it, or she may find that she's not hungry, but simply wants some interaction.

I really wish you best of luck!

If shes falling asleep you can either strip her naked down to a onesie or diaper or tickle her barefeet.and like the other ladies said you can do things to up your milk out put, like drink lots of water and eat a bunch of small meals instead of 3 big ones.

She's only 9 weeks old and sleeps that well at night?!?!? Mine still doesn't sleep through at 9 months. But give it time, as she becomes more interested in the world around her it'll stretch out, but right now she's doing a lot of growing. My baby doubled her weight the first six months. Our nursing sessions started spacing out once she learned to roll over and started scooting around exploring. As your baby is still so young, just keep offering the breast and feed her on demand. And enjoy this time that she's so little, it doesn't last long.

Absolutely disagree with schedules and Baby Wise techniques for newborns. Only your baby knows what she needs and when she needs it. Trust your instincts, your body will also tell you it's right to feed her when she wants to eat. She will NOT get used to or associate sleep with nursing. Neither I nor anyone I know has ever had that problem. For further information check out: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/normal/newborn-nursing.html

yes, pop her feet, rub her back or do something else to make her stay awake until she finishes-

She will sleep better and longer and your breasts won't get so sore! AND- you need a break!!!

Take her clothes off when she eats. If she's not so warm and snuggly she'll be more apt to eat before she falls asleep.

It sounds like to me your baby is just snacking which is she eats just enough to feel the hunger pain leave and goes to sleep. I found that undressing my son down to tee shirt and diaper and talking with him kept him awake longer. I had the same issue and my pediatrician said also that sometimes the baby will use you as a natural pacifier. He suggested trying a passy. I hope that this can help you some and good luck. Oh and by the way if you are sore from all of this nursing the Medela skin cream is great for cracking and soreness.

I went through the same thing with my little boy, who is now 5 months. Similar to a few others who have responded, I also used the "Baby Wise" approach. It stressed that babies must Eat, Play, and then Nap (always in that order.) Once they get in the habit of falling to sleep while eating, it will be difficult for them to ever finish a meal. And, they will always want to eat before sleeping. It takes some work to break the habit, but it is well worth it. I kept a damp cloth nearby each time I fed my son. When he started dozing, I touched him with the cloth. Also, playing with his ear kept him awake! It really helped me. Good luck.

Try keeping a damp cloth and wipe her cheeks and forhed when she appears to be drifing to sleep. Maybe this will keep her awake and nursing until she feeds on both breast. I'm sure you probably know the best satiety comes from the hind milk which comes last.

Congratuations on doing the best thing for your baby, even though it's sometimes difficult on you.

I liked Gwen's advice to "let her be" although I know it can get a little tiring. And I agree totally with Danelle
- I also wouldn't recommend schedules or those "Baby Wise" books. Ugh! (Read some of the reviews on Amazon - a lot of people have problems with that guy.)
The "kellymom" website she recommended has wonderful information, as does Dr. Newman.

I don't quite understand waking up the baby that has nursed to sleep. I always considered it a great magic trick! The hard part is getting the breast out without waking the kid up and sneaking away.

Please get in touch with some of the folks at La Leche League -###-###-#### is the Atlanta Area Hotline
Those volunteers are an absolute blessing and are so passionate about the importance of breastfeeding! If you want to nurse your child, they will help you through ANYTHING. (And they are free)

If you can afford it, it may help to see a lactation consultant. Sandy (I forget her last name) at Northside Hospital is wonderful and soooo supportive. ###-###-####
I can also recommend Vaishali Kute ("Coo-tay")at Chattahoochee Pediatrics.###-###-####

Do you use a pacifier? If not, she maybe just using you as one. Nurse her and then try to give her the pacifier when she gets fussy again ; see if that helps. It is great that she is sleeping more at night... it means she could definitely go longer during the day. Hope this helps!!

She is probably sleeping well at night because she is nursing so much during the day. Give her some time, she will adjust. If it's driving you crazy to nurse so much try giving her a pacifier instead. Good Luck!

Hi E.,

I agree with Lisa because I had the same problem as you. I didn't figure it out until I pumped both breasts and saw how little milk I was producing. I don't know if that's your problem, but it's an easy way to find out.

God bless!

M.

You are doing the best thing for your daughter by nursing. Its not easy to keep it going when you may be sleep deprived and stressed. My daughter would nurse for about 10min each side. I could tell when she was eating and when she was using it as a paci. I found my self having to keep her awake while she ate. To help keep my supply up, I drank a 20oz bottle of water every hour. I did it for a solid year. I know of 2 moms that gave up because they could not keep up the demand of the little one. There child also wanted to eat all the time. Please know you are doing a great job at being a mommy to your little one.

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