Surviving a baby on a growth spurt

My baby is like the cookie monster, but for my boobs. She grunts and growls and snarls and aggressively mouths the air when she smells the breast. She eats ALL. THE. TIME. I feel like I was set up by the midwives and nurses to believe that she should eat every 2 to 3 hours, and by now should be going 4 hours between feeds at night. In her first week of life she was super sleepy, and I had to set my alarm to wake her up for a feed every 2 hours. Now she demands feeds an hour apart through the night, with her longest naps being 2 hours during the afternoon.

For the past week and a half my nights have been long and sleepless. By the time she has been changed into a fresh diaper, eats, and is burped (which we do for a while now because she seems gassy), I could get 15 minutes of sleep before she starts rooting again. But no, I can’t get those 15 minutes, because she hates laying on her back in the bassinet and starts freaking out trying to push poop/gas out. So I walk her around the house for 15 min until she falls asleep, then lie her down in the bassinet, and lie my exhausted body down and wait for the end of the muscle spasms in my back so I can finally get comfy, and then… I hear grunts and growls and snarls from the bassinet beside me and I look over to see her aggressively eating her fist.

I was worried at first that she wasn’t getting enough milk, and that’s why she was feeding so often. But she isn’t frustrated while on the boob – she finishes on the creamy hindmilk and comes off on her own with milk dribbling out of her mouth, making us both sticky. She has lots of soiled diapers every day, and is growing steadily. So she is getting food, but she’s more of a grazer than an 8 square meals a day kind of a baby. And I have to let her breastfeed whenever she wants because I need to allow her to dictate the level of milk production she needs from my body. I am impatiently awaiting the day where I can get those 4 hour stretches of sleep that I was promised… I can’t seem to sleep when she sleeps because I am just so awake during her afternoon sleepy time. I find myself filling with anxiety as the sun sets and I know another night is upon us.

I know that every breastfeeding parent has been through these phases before, and if anyone has words of encouragement to get me through the sore nipples and zero sleep, I would be so happy to hear.


13 thoughts on “Surviving a baby on a growth spurt

  1. It is the biggest disservice in the world that we are told newborns feed every two hours, or three, and that by a couple months they ‘should’ nurse every 3 to 4. The first month – nurse ALL THE TIME. The second month and on, every 90 minutes to 2 hours. Things I did to survive the constant feeding: lanolin for sore nipples, wear the baby in a wrap to get the closeness without the nursing (often the cluster feedings would chill when I started that), take a walk with or without the baby. Sometimes just removing the milk from the room allowed baby to play or rest without requiring milk. You’re doing awesome. ❤

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  2. I have no advice, but much deep empathy. It was a VERY long time before Ansel went 4 hours between feeds, and even longer before he would sleep for those 4 hours. The number of diapers and weight gain are exactly the indicators you should be looking at, not how often she eats. I’ll third the baby wearing recommendation and also say that co sleeping allowed me to get much more rest, if that’s something you’re open to, especially very early on when he was nursing almost constantly. I’d also say that only changing diapers when he was dirty or obviously unhappy about being wet gave me more time as well.

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    • I have done some feedings lying down in bed and we end up accidentally co sleeping. It works for me, but my wife is concerned that we will crush her in our sleep while she is still so tiny and young. When she is a bit older I will definitely be open to co sleeping on fussy nights. The diaper advice is good advice… She doesn’t seem to mind sitting in a pee diaper while we are still using disposable. I won’t be able to get away with leaving it for as long once we switch to cloth so I should start taking advantage of all those absorbent chemicals while we are using them!!


      • You may want to read up on safe could sleeping guidelines. A breastfeeding mother utilizing ask if the guidelines is quite unlikely to roll over on a baby. And, obviously, you should only do something you feel comfortable with! And you may be surprised at the cloth diapers too. We certainly didn’t let him sit in wet diapers but I definitely erred on the side of sleep and we never had an issue with rashes or discomfort in the cloth.

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      • Awesome, thanks for the reassurances. I love the idea of co-sleeping. I just want to be close to her all the time, and she falls asleep so well while eating. I’m sure my wife will get more comfortable with it as she gets a little bigger. I’d like to co sleep for a little bit before graduating her to her crib…


      • Look for studies or articles by James McKenna- he’s a co-sleeping expert, does lots of studies of mamas and babies in his sleep lab at Notre Dame. 🙂 I had to read some of his studies in one of my medical anthropology classes and now I regularly search out his work.


  3. I have no breastfeeding advice, but I can say the first few months were the hardest for us as we were trying to learn what works best for our little guy/family while completely sleep deprived. I am confident you will get there eventually, just try to be kind to yourself while you work out all the bus along the way.
    Also from a practice perspective, I echo the comment of only changing diapers when necessary. And, I could never co-sleep and we still don’t – I was way too fearful to do it. In fact for me I couldn’t even have Baby in the room with me sleeping as I’d lay awake listening to make sure he was breathing, once we moved him out of our room my sleep drastically improved.

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    • I am FINALLY starting to be able to sleep through her “I really want to poop” grunts. But I am sure my sleep will improve drastically when we move her to her own room.

      Liked by 1 person

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