Advice on My 2.5 Don't My Hospital Stay

Updated on August 02, 2019
S.E. asks from La Habra, CA
19 answers

I bedshare with and breastfeed my 2.5 year old and I'm expecting my second in a few months. What should I do about the hospital stay after birth?? My daughter has never spent a night away from me (and nurses throughout the night), and I like it that way. I assume hospitals won't allow her to sleep with me... Any other advice? I'm sort of considering a home birth so I don't have to leave anyone in my family out!

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

Congratulations on your upcoming baby to be!

You have time NOW to start transitioning for the new normal. You should have started that transition long ago.

You have a toddler, not a baby. A toddler needs to learn independence, sleep in own bed and room, does not need to be "bf'ing"at night.

I realize you "like it that way" but your life is about to change and the way you like it now will change like it or not. Your toddler is in for some drastic changes and adjustments need to start taking place now. I am NOT bashing you for your choice but keep in mind that you are limiting your toddler by co sleeping, night feeding, and not allowing that toddler to grow to be an independent little person. You don't need a newborn and a toddler that is still treated like a newborn. Empower the toddler. Socialize the toddler. Help the toddler grow up.

I don't know hospital protocol but I would think they would not be allowing you to be sleeping with and bf'ing a toddler right after you give birth to a new baby. Your focus at the hospital should be safe delivery and bonding with new baby. How are you going to feed your newborn and a toddler? The newborn is the one that needs the breast right now, toddler needs a sippy cup.

Start adjusting your routines now or you'll be in for some nightmareish behaviors, acting out and more.

Having another baby in the hospital is not leaving people out. It is a little scary that your concern is so much for toddler that you are not thinking about the newborn and needs for him/her

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R.L.

answers from Chicago on

Congrats on the new baby! I think it's awesome how much you are considering your daughter's feelings about welcoming a new sibling. Sounds like you have a very close and loving relationship, and the new baby is being born into a close and nurturing family.

That said, I have to agree with the others who are suggesting a little separation might be a good thing here. I also am worried about the qualify of your sleep and your daughter’s sleep if she is waking frequently during the night to nurse.

Also, as much as children need to feel loved and secure, they also need to feel confident and capable. She is not a baby anymore who is completely dependent on you for food and comfort. She can feed herself all kinds of foods, and should be learning how to feel confident and capable as a separate person from you, because she is a separate person from you. She needs the opportunity to discover her own preferences for sleep and for comfort.

To get her ready, first decide on whether you would prefer she remain in your room or move to her own. It will be easier with a newborn if she is in a different room, but you certainly don’t want to move her when the baby comes, so if you aren’t ready to move her out now, then you could at least night wean her now. You don’t want her to be unable to nurse just because of the new baby. She’s going to have mixed feelings about the baby anyway, and you want to nurture the part that loves the baby, not stoke the fires of resentment.

Explain that she can eat a big snack before she goes to bed so she doesn’t get hungry in the night, and if she is thirsty she can have a cup of water. Maybe teke her shopping for a new stuffed animal or blanket that she can hold during the night. Present all this as a really good thing, an opportunity to sleep better because it is cool to sleep all night long instead of waking up alot. It might take a few nights of her waking and wanting to nurse still, and you offering her other options, but she can learn. Please believe that she can learn how to feel comfortable when you are not there. This will help her feel strong and capable.

The home birth conversation can be had with your practitioner, but I would advise against it because of your daughter’s very young age. She is just too little to make sense of why she won’t be the center of attention, and it could be really traumatic if something goes wrong and you need to be rushed to the hospital. Make a plan with a trusted family member or friend and talk with her about it alot again as a cool thing. Don't think of this as "leaving her out", think of it as recognizing her needs. If she seems concerned about being apart from you, offer her a photo or piece of your jewelry or something that she can hold if she misses you, and remind her that you will be home before she knows. If you are positive about this, she will be fine. If you are anxious about it, she will be anxious. She will be looking to you for how to manage all this.

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Your toddler will be at home in bed with daddy, just like she is every night. Yes she will miss you but she will be fine. You need to focus on a healthy delivery and getting your newborn established on the breast, so now is a good time to start weaning. If you have any complications at birth you could be in the hospital for longer than one night so you need to think about that as well.
I'm not sure why you're considering a home birth at this point. Is your doctor willing to do that? And even if the baby is born at home your infant will STILL need your full attention so your husband needs to be prepared to care for your toddler for at least a few nights, maybe more.
Good luck!

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

Congratulations on adding to your family!

I think you need to think beyond the birth and envision what life will be like 2 weeks after the birth, 2 months, 6 months. What's the plan? Will you have 2 children in your bed, nursing on demand? How is that going to work? What will your toddler think of sharing the breast with a fussy newborn?

Have you discussed this all-night nursing of your toddler with the pediatrician? I think it's fine to breastfeed as long as a mom and toddler want to, and I'm assuming your toddler is also eating solid food during the day. So, the need to nurse is psychological, not nutritional. My deep concern is that neither you nor your toddler has had a good night's sleep in 2.5 years, and that you think this is okay. I'm assuming you are a full-time stay-at-home mom and that you never, ever drive a car without the benefit of REM sleep. That would be a danger to yourself and your daughter, as well as to everyone else on the road. Napping is not the same as a good night's sleep. Your toddler is not getting the brain development that should have started long ago. Your pediatrician must be inform so that your daughter's developmental milestones can take into account that she does not sleep.

This is not about your comfort, or your child's. This is about making the tough decisions for long-term growth even if they are difficult in the short run. Your daughter will be giving up her daytime naps soon, and I have no idea how you intend to send her to preschool or kindergarten if she cannot separate from you.

A home birth is a huge deal medically, and it works for some people, and that's fine if they have all of their medical ducks in a row. I don't understand "leaving someone out" though - will your parents and in-laws be there too? Have you considered the effect on a toddler of watching Mom in pain and knowing that the new baby is responsible? Have you considered the blood and general mess she will see if you have her in the room, or the frustration/confusion she will feel if she is kept out of your room/bed by your parents or in-laws or whoever is in charge of her? Have you thought about her seeing you taken in an ambulance if there is a complication? I have friends who went through this with the idea that "we're all in this together," and it was pretty awful for all concerned. In my opinion, there are things young children shouldn't see before they have the capability of understanding it on an adult level.

Do have a conversation with the pediatrician and with your OB/GYN and any midwife/doula you are considering using.

But my suggestion is that you start to treat your toddler like a toddler and prepare her for being a preschooler, by adjusting to her natural maturing and need to see her herself as independent, competent, and not entirely dependent on Mommy for every moment of calm. Children are quite capable and resilient if they are properly prepared by knowledgeable and confident parents.

Good luck!

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

i'm a little taken aback that you've raised a small human for a couple of years now and are building another one and this important issue is just now arising for you.

that's above and beyond the 'hospital stay.' they booted us out in no time flat after i delivered my last one, and that was almost 30 years ago. an overnight stay might not even happen.

but what are you planning on doing with your daughter while you deliver the new baby? where is her father? do you have family? day care? a nanny?

you might 'like it this way' but this circumstance clearly underscores the need to get your daughter happy and confident even when she's not attached to your nipple.

a home birth because you believe in home births is great. taking on the responsibilities and risks just because your daughter can't be left for a night is kind of nuts.

an almost 3 year old toddler does NOT need to 'nurse through the night.'

you've got a few months to start gently teaching her (and you, apparently), good sleep and separation hygiene. your toddler is in for huge changes when the new baby arrives- forcing her to handle an abrupt separation from sleeping with you, the availability of your breasts as well as the inevitable family disruption of a new member is piling an awful lot onto her.

empower your little girl.

khairete
S.

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

I haven’t read all the responses but my first thought is that the newborn is going to need the nourishment from your milk much more then a preschooler. I would be concerned that your older child may get the lions’ share, so to speak. And what about the colostrum? Your baby needs that. I think it’s time to make some changes.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Adding a new baby to the mix is going to rock your 2 1/2 yr olds world.
Your breasts are going to be used by the baby and your first child is not going to like it.
No matter what you do it's going to be an adjustment - the minute you got pregnant with nbr 2 big changes were coming - keeping things as they were just is not going to be possible.
Big sis is not going to be the baby of the family anymore.
There will be weeping and wailing and she's got teeth to gnash.

Rather than putting energy into trying to keep things in stasis you might want to think about how to transition for the new addition to your family and help your elder childs development.
Perhaps an over night with grandma (either one) now and then as preparation for when you are in the hospital could be a fun activity for everyone.
A night or two away from mom is not leaving anyone out.

Additional:
When we had our son 20 years ago a birthing room was common at the hospital but they switched away from that model after only a few years.
With high volume of births they just could not get the mamas in and out fast enough.
So they changed to a room to give birth followed by a recovery room.
Mostly they want the birth coach with you in delivery (usually Dad) and between the doctor, nurses there isn't room for much more.
Soon as you are done, you are shifted out and the room is preped for the next mama.

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

Congratulations on your upcoming birth. You must be so excited to be adding to your family.
You have a really big transition coming up, and I would imagine there are many thoughts going through your head ... many things to try and figure out.

This is going to be a big change for you and a big change for your daughter, but you have more to think about than just one night in the hospital. What about the days and weeks following the birth. You cannot safely have your 2 1/2 year old and a newborn in the same bed.

I am not against co-sleeping (bedsharing) at all. In fact, having our kids sleep with us during those early years might have been the only way for us to get any sleep :-) And I'm not saying 2 1/2 is too old. Our youngest came into our bed in the middle of the night for several years (turns out he is on the Autism Spectrum, but we just knew that he needed us for some reason). But you do have to be realistic about taking care of a newborn, and you cannot place the wants of your 2 1/2 year old or yourself above the needs of your newborn. Your newborn will NEED to eat throughout the night, and that must take priority over your 2 1/2 year old nursing.

It might be time to transition your 2 1/2 year old. Can she nurse before bed and in the morning but not throughout the night? Are you ready to let her have her own bed? I just don't think you can meet the needs of a newborn without changing your daughter's sleeping arrangements, but at 2 1/2, she will be ok.

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N.Z.

answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter was 2.5 when I had my son. She stayed at home with my mom and my husband while I stayed at the hospital for 3 days. She came to visit, but didn’t stay overnight. But by then she had been sleeping on her own for at least a year and was not fed at night.

I would start a new routine right away before the baby comes. It’ll be hard to continue sleeping with your daughter and breastfeeding her when you have to tend to a newborn throughout the night.

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E.B.

answers from Denver on

I think that you need to consider what you mean by leaving anyone out. There will be changes, but that doesn't mean that someone is left out.

Your older child will be 3 soon, and may be ready for preschool, or at least ready for pre-K in a short period of time. Will you homeschool her? If not, she'll go to school, but that doesn't mean your younger child will be left out. It's part of life.

Sharing a bed is a valid choice, and nursing a toddler is also a valid choice.

But ... and this is important: a toddler who nurses throughout the night is not developing a sense of independence, of knowing how to soothe herself to sleep, and not getting a solid night's sleep that she needs for growth and development.

And, you're setting yourself up for really difficult nights, as the toddler wants to nurse but the infant needs to nurse and they're both in the same bed. You're going to get very little rest or sleep that you will need to be an effective mother to both children.

Wanting to structure your entire birth plan around the fact that your toddler has never spent a night away from you and out of your bed and not having the opportunity to nurse throughout the night is really limiting and suffocating. What if you had to be hospitalized for an infection? What if you had to go help an elderly relative for a few days? It's time to start helping your older child develop some independence and realize that it doesn't mean she's being left out.

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A.L.

answers from Atlanta on

Ditto to what Margie, B, and Gidget posted. These next months seem like the ideal time to transition your older child to sleeping someplace other than in your bed and with you. She is going to need more distance from her younger sibling so she can sleep well at night because she won't be able to do that if she is in bed with you and a newborn. She also really should not be nursing often at night--is it possible she is doing it not because she needs the nutrients, but as a way to get back to sleep? If so, she needs to learn another way to self-soothe because Baby needs the milk. Good luck with the transition!

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

Perhaps you've forgotten the stress of caring for a newborn. No sleep. Being on call for baby. Times baby is unhappy, crying for an hour or more and you don't know how to calm him. Your daughter will definitely get much less attention. She will have a more difficulty adjusting to the many changes that will occur. I urge you to start making changes long before baby is born.

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W.W.

answers from Washington DC on

S.

I'm not a co-sleeper fan. I don't think I'd be able to get enough sleep as I would be afraid I'd roll over on my baby.

Also if you are "nursing the night through" at 2.5 years? You are NOT doing your baby ANY favors. She is now using your breast as a pacifier. how do you plan on bonding with your new baby with your TODDLER sucking at your other breast??

You need to get your daughter in her own bed. NOW. Not tomorrow. NOW.

If she co-sleeps how on earth did you get pregnant?? That's like eewwww in my book having sex with your child next to you.

Where is her dad in all of this? What is HIS thoughts on co-sleeping? Why can't he take care of his child while you are in the hospital recovering? Both of my boys were premies - so I spent 3 days in the hospital since my OB/GYN was good to me! :)

I never had family in the delivery room. Only my husband and a bunch of people I didn't know seeing things I never thought anyone but my husband and OB would see!! I don't think ANY of my family, other than my mom or sister would have wanted to be in the delivery room with me. With my first son, my best friend was there as I went into labor again and he was 6 weeks early.

Your daughter is going to have a HUGE wake up call and you are going to have a SH*T storm when you come home with the new baby and your daughter is displaced from your breast AND your bed. Unless you're going to kick your husband out of the bed. Your daughter has no clue how her world is going to change and you aren't preparing her for it. You now have a few months to prepare her. You need to get the ball rolling and stop the insanity. Your daughter NEEDS time away from you. She MUST have her own space. NO kidding. NO joke. She needs to get away from your breast at night because she's NOT sleeping if she's sucking and if she is? She has your breast as a pacifier. That's NOT right. She's almost THREE YEARS OLD. I'm all for breast feeding until "older" but the co-sleeping and keeping my breast readily available for sucking at night? No.

Get your daughter in her room TONIGHT.
Tell her she is a big girl now and needs to learn how to sleep in her own bed and on her own. Will it be rough? Yes it will. But keeping this situation going is asking for a sh*tstorm to happen.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I don't know if the hospital will let her sleep with you or not. You could call in advance and ask - why not? I would. That way you would know and won't be wondering. I don't think any of us can tell you. All hospitals are different. Also, if you have a c-section or something like that, then that would change things. Too many tubes, etc. (catheter for example).

But as far as bringing the newborn into your bed to nurse, wouldn't it be very hard to nurse with a little one already in bed with you? And you couldn't have both in the same bed - that would be a no-no (to sleep going forward).

Do you plan on having the newborn in a basinet next to the bed?

Could you just have the older one on the floor next to your bed (make a cozy nest, just buy a small mattress and transition her if you don't want to do her own bed in her own room)?

I don't know how people nurse two children at the same time. I cannot imagine how exhausting that would be and on your milk supply. Obviously, the newborn infant comes first and so do you. If you want to continue, I would maybe do the older child after you've fed the baby.

The part that I find somewhat concerning (not to be judgmental) about your question is - you say your 2.5 year old is nursing throughout the night. Why? She really needs her sleep and children do not need to be fed at night. I don't think you'll find any doctor or health professional that would support that - if it's for soothing, then it's time to find an alternative habit at this point. Just my thought - I had to sleep train one of mine at a year, and it wasn't easy but it was really time for it and it was so much better (for him and for me) once I had.

This would be a good time for that. Again, no judgement - but if you don't nip this in the bud, then she's going to miss out on rest. You can bond in many other ways, and continue to nurse if that's your thing :)

ETA:
Three new members with questionable answers all from same area writing in responses. Flurry this week. Suspect these are not legit. Reported.

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R.M.

answers from Albany on

This could be a lesson learned; with the next, train the child to be flexible and adaptable and not solely dependent on Mummy...if you want more freedom.
Personally, I would not share my precious colostrum and nutrient rich milk designed for a newborn with my 2 1/2 year old. Now is the time to stop the nursing and put your daughter in her big girl bed (not a crib) in her big girl, nicely decorated room... if you don't want to risk jealousy when the baby comes and takes over.
I think the line "and I like it that way" tells it all. Dare I suggest that YOU need the reassurance and love from your daughter that maybe you missed in your own childhood and you are projecting this need onto your daughter. Think what is best for her. Just being an amateur psychologist.
All the best!

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M.6.

answers from New York on

I'm not going to get into the whole "still breastfeeding a 2.5 yr old throughout the night" issue, but most hospitals now have birthing rooms and have for years. I can remember being offered with my later kids to have my husband spend the night in the same bed at the hospital with me - why couldn't you have a child sleep with you? The rooms with the larger beds did have to be reserved in advance and the idea was to promote the family spending time post-birth together.

Maybe having the baby at home isn't a bad idea, though . . . I can't imagine what the nurses are going to say about you breastfeeding a newborn and a 2.5 yr old at the same time.

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D..

answers from Miami on

Maybe you should be thinking a little bit about the health of your infant and your own health at this point instead of just concerning yourself with your toddler. She has had ALL of you for 2 1/2 years. Do you really think that she takes first place over a newborn?

Toddlers have to learn to SHARE with their newborn siblings. That’s just the way life works. She does not need to nurse. You need to go ahead and wean her so that she isn’t insanely jealous of her sibling. Your newborn needs your best breast milk. You should put a bassinet beside your bed for your newborn to sleep in to keep her SAFE and just sit up in the bed, pick the baby up along with the padding underneath him/her, breastfeed and then put the baby along with the warm pad back in the bassinet. Don’t co-sleep with both of them until the baby is old enough to not be smothered.

Many women give birth at home for many reasons. But it is foolish on your part to only be doing it out of jealousy. And yes, only wanting her to be with YOU is jealous on your part. This child needs to have friends and family in her life and learn to trust someone other than you. If you sequester her away from others, you are hurting her development.

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R.P.

answers from Tampa on

Personally there is no reason to still have a toddler “drink” at night. At 4 months all my kids slept through the night. So honestly you are creating problems for yourself ( potty training will be very difficult) and if you stop that-there should be no reason to have her sleep with you. But again you created heck of a difficult road for yourself.

Have her take a bottle not a boob. Kid is 3 almost ( correct?)

Slowly stop the feedings. Have someone stay with your toddler as you and hubby go have the baby. And hubby can go and sleep at night at home.

Try not making the same mistakes with 2nd.. kids must sleep after a certain age in their own room and must know how to put themselves to sleep. And food must stop at night ( again some at few early months, others at later.. but not a talking toddler).

We have 4 kids and we drove from Fl to ny to have our 4th. Our toddler went with us and stayed with me in the room. ( older 2 boys had a relative stay so they don’t miss school) My hubby works in that hospital ( moonlights ) so we were allowed. 1st night was hell. Toddler took over the bed. I couldn’t get comfortable after my c section and nurses ( love them!) were checking up on vitals seemed like every 10 minutes ( every time I was falling asleep! Lmao!

Good luck!

Ps did you not discuss home birth with dr???

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D.P.

answers from Pittsburgh on

how, prey tell, did you make a new baby when you co-sleep with your current child?? WOW.

I'm not fully understanding how you have not even thought about this before now.

WHERE is her father? WHERE is YOUR family? Why do you want people in the delivery room to see your private stuff?? I've never understood that one. I only wanted my husband and MAYBE my best friend in the delivery room.

You need to break this habit and pattern. HOW ON EARTH are you going to sleep with TWO children?? You have GOT to give them their space. This is kinda on the obscene. Sorry, not trying to be hurtful, but really, this is kinda crazy.

Your daughter SHOULD be sleeping in her own bed at this point in her life.
She needs to understand that in a few months, she is going to be sharing you, not only with daddy (i'll assume her daddy is the same for this child?) but another child who will need a LOT of your time.

You will need to stop breast feeding your almost 3 year old as well so that your baby gets all the nutrients he/she will need. I breast fed my oldest until he was 2.5 and my other was on the way. However, we didn't co-sleep.

I think you need to talk with the hospital and see what their rules are. You will need sleep after the baby is born. Your daughter needs to sleep in her own bed. It's time. NOW. Start the transition NOW. You'll be better off for it.

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