Nursing at night is a common point of contention. I've read and heard so many comments about baby sleep patterns that are completely opposite of my experience, I wondered if the commenters even had kids. What were they doing that made their experience so much different than mine? Did I figure out the magic that allows me to sleep and feel rested without night weaning?
At first I didn't trust my experience because I only had one child. That's only one data point. Kids are so different. Sleep patterns can vary wildly from one child to another. Then I had my second kiddo. And that's when I started to feel like I was some weird phenomenon. I nursed two kids, at night, on demand, and still woke up most mornings feeling rested. What was I doing so differently?
- We cosleep. I slept between both kids on a queen sized bed from the time Desmond was born till very recently. Now I only sleep with Desmond on the queen bed. Chase sleeps with daddy on the other queen bed. When I woke at night, I only had to roll from one side to another to breastfeed. Most times I didn't even remember being woken up. Like I wasn't woken up at all. No walking down hallways in the middle of the night (which I did with Chase when he was a baby) or picking up a baby from a nearby bassinet only to put him back after he was done nursing (which I also tried with Chase). Those situations disturbed my sleep so much I felt I had hardly slept at all come morning. Once I started cosleeping, waking up exhausted was the rarity.
- I just go with it. I know that my kiddos will wake up at night, many times, for a very long time. That is completely acceptable to me. I'm not hunting for ways to make them sleep through the night, to keep them sleeping longer, or sleeping early or sleeping late, etc. The less I've tried to control their sleep patterns the more sleep I've gotten. Of course that means that I'm on their schedule, but since they tend to go to sleep late and wake up late, I'm not complaining. I've never been much of a morning person.
- I don't control their sleep patterns. I should say I don't attempt to control their sleep patterns because I really don't believe you can make another person sleep just because you say so. If either of them wants to nap, I help them do that. If they don't nap that's ok too. Point is I watch them for sleep clues and act based on that; not the clock, or an arbitrary sleep schedule. This takes some flexibility on my part; see #2.
This is about nursing at night, not just sleeping right? Yes. I've realized that my attitude around their sleep habits have allowed me to nurse at night, on demand, and get the sleep I need too. Because we cosleep and I don't freak out when they wake me up at night, I can nurse and fall asleep nursing like I was never awake. I rarely wake fully. My mind and body have come to expect the night nursing sessions and have adapted such that I can be available to them in a zombie like quasi sleep state. My mind is lucid enough to get a nipple to the right place, then I'm off to sleep again the next instant.