Chronicling Babywise - Weeks 6 & 7

Phew, time is flying! Trips to the consulate for passports (for Moses and our two oldest sons... I can't believe it's been 5 years since we started this overseas journey) and trying to be more diligent about cleaning the house and such have been stealing the few "extra" bits of time I get these days.

(This is #6 in a series chronicling our Babywise routine with our fifth child. CLICK HERE TO SEE: Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five.)

DURING WEEK SIX, things went really well. Moses continued increasing his sleeping hours at night until he was consistently going 6-7 hours between night feeds, which was super nice. One night he even went just half an hour shy of 8 hours. But then towards the end of the week, like I expected, we hit the 6- week growth spurt.

This last week has been more like 4 & 1/2 to 5 & 1/2 hours between night feeds, and he's still eating every 2 & 1/2 to 3 hours during the day. He's chunking up, smiling big (especially in the mornings), wiggling and interacting so much more, talking and cooing to every and any one who happens to be near, and visually tracking people walk across the room. It's fun to see him growing, and yet a bit bittersweet. It's just incredible how quickly they ditch that newborn stage.

STARTING AT THE SAME TIME EACH DAY?
A friend of mine with a newborn asked this last week whether or not we start our routine at the same time each day, and at this early stage, we do not. I'm more concerned about keeping up my milk supply and meeting their needs. Once we get to 3-4 months, everything levels out anyway, and we'll be on a basic daily routine just based on their own caloric needs (for example, they may vary by 15 or 30 minutes in either direction, but by that age, my babies tend to wake up at roughly the same time each morning anyhow. If it's normally around 7 that they wake up, let's say, then if they woke up at 6:45, I might go ahead and feed them then. If they sleep a bit longer, I'd wake them up by 7:20 or 7:30 to get the day rolling. That sort of thing.)

But right now, our days look something like this:
  • 6:30- feed, longer waketime, short nap
  • 9-ish- feed, short waketime, longer nap
  • 12 noon-ish- feed, short waketime, longer nap,
  • 2:30/3- feed, short waketime, longer nap,
  • 5:30- feed, longer waketime, short nap
  • 8:30- feed, short waketime, sleep
  • 11-ish- feed, right back to sleep.
But see how, when a baby goes through a growth spurt and cuts back a bit on the nighttime sleep (from 6-7 hours to more like 5 hours), that will lead to a (for us, right now) roughly 4/5am wake up? So then that might lead to a similar schedule the next day, starting around 6:30, or it might lead to something a bit earlier/later.

As you may have picked up on by now, we're more like that laid-back family Ezzo describes early on in Babywise. We aren't (by nature) a clock-driven family. We figure routines are there to serve our family's needs, not the other way around. So for me, in these middle-weeks when we're building up to that 8-hours-a-night sleep pattern, I don't focus on the particular hour that the feedings start. I focus on:
  • still getting regular, full feedings throughout the day
  • making sure wet/dirty diapers are regular and full (if you're concerned on this point, check out the week-appropriate charts @ the back of Babywise that give guidelines for what's healthy & normal)
  • in early weeks: getting at least 8 feedings in a 24-hour period (as you can tell from the times listed above, for me, once they start consistently sleeping through that early morning --4am-- feed, it cuts back to 7 feedings in a day. It is, however, possible to fit in 8 feeds per day even while going longer at night time if you stick to the every-2 & 1/2-hour feed times).
MILK SUPPLY ISSUES
One thing I did face in the last two weeks was concern about my milk supply. About the time he started going 7 hours at night (thus, dropping a nighttime feed), I began feeling like my supply was in jeopardy. This may be the first time I've ever really noticed what I felt like was a drop in supply.

So, why now? Could be I'm older. Could be I've got five kids now and do a lot more than I used to do. Could be I was trying to exercise too much, too fast. Could be I tried to quit drinking sweet tea and forgot to drink enough water some days. Could be a couple days in there where I just got busy and wasn't eating as much as I probably should (reminder: breastfeeding requires about 500 additional calories per day, ladies!). Could be he hit a growth spurt and was really intaking whatever I could make as fast as I could make it.

Whatever the case, here was my response:
  • Be careful to get enough water! And yes, I jumped back into drinking sweet tea more. Interestingly, when I delivered Moses, the hospital cafeteria delivery people brought in a big pitcher of something and said it would be good for "helping me make milk". I'd obviously never used this stuff before so figured I'd be fine without trying some new hospital-created concoction. When my friend, the English-speaking pediatrician, came in to check out Moses, she explained that it is basically a sugar-infused fruit water. She learned I was drinking sweet tea, and said, "oh- that's the same thing. It gives you some extra calories while giving you plenty of fluids. Drink that." So maybe I'll continue on with the sweet tea. Doctors orders and all. :)
  • Nurse longer at each session-- supply keeps up with demand and so by helping him to nurse a few minutes longer on each side at each feeding (even though I felt "empty"), it snowballs over time and causes my body to produce more!
  • Feed him slightly more frequently-- for me, at this age, that means closer to the 2 & 1/2 hour mark -- definitely don't try to stretch feeds farther apart when your supply seems to be dropping!
  • Slow down. Rest more. Maybe it's because I've got more kiddos now, but jumping back into high-energy exercise may not be possible right now. More low-key yoga may be just the thing for this season. Letting my body work the way it's supposed to (by feeding my baby) is WAY more important than getting a size or two smaller. Even though I'd really enjoy being more trim and healthy, right now, top priority is the health and growth of my little man. So, I'm scaling back the exercise a bit.
I know some people also swear by certain herbs and teas to increase milk supply. For us, that would just be too cost-prohibitive (to ship abroad) since generally, my body makes plenty of milk. But if I was struggling more than just what it was, I would look into those things as well. So in my case, just a few tweaks to my norms have gotten things back to where they ought to be (I have noticed things return to a higher level of production since implementing these changes).


So this is roughly how the last two weeks (weeks six and seven with our new son) have gone. He's still working his way back up again, going five or five & a half hours between night time feeds, and is just a little sweet potato. I wish I could share pictures of his sweetness, but the crashing of my computer and busyness as of late have kept me from figuring out how to upload pictures to my husband's Mac. Hopefully I'll learn soon, cause you're missing out on one very precious baby.


[Here are links to this whole Babywise series: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Weeks 6 & 7, Weeks 8-14]

14 comments:

Thia said...

Very interesting on the sugar water/sweet tea. There are some days where every sip of water feels like tasteless torture. Now I won't feel guilty reaching for my sweet tea!

Jenna said...

I hope to be more laid back with our next one- if the Lord sees fit to bless us with more. I got so hyper about times, etc that it definitely didn't feel like we were fitting our baby into our family's schedule, rather the other way around. Gabriel is so sensitive to becoming overtired/overstimulated that I often thought it WAS better for my husband and me if we got him down at just the right time/worked around his naps because if we didn't, we'd all pay for it! The Lord has allowed me to become more flexible as the months go by, but its tempting to look back and wish I did things differently in those beginning months- I would love to just roll with the punches and not be a slave to the clock!

praise God for His grace :) I'm a work in progress!

Sara said...

Congratulations on your newest blessing, Jess and family! He is so sweet looking! Adorable smile!!! I love the name Moses. It is on our short list if we are ever given another boy (5 girls, 1 boy). We, too, are a very laid-back Babywise family.

I do have some advice for milk supply. Last year, when I was nursing twins, my nurse at the hospital told me to eat oatmeal. She said it would help to increase my milk supply. The twins were my 5th and 6th and I was 30, so I had noticed it seemed to take longer for my milk supply to come in strong like before. But this piece of advice really seemed to work. I soon had enough that I could have fed a third!! Hopefully this will work for you, too. (That is if you're an oatmeal eater. She did say oatmeal cookies counted!!!)

TulipGirl said...

For me, I had to make sure I kept in a nighttime feeding to maintain my milk supply. . . that wasn't too hard to do. My priority was making sure my little one had plenty of breastmilk and we didn't have milk supply problems. We were still able to all get plenty of rest, even while maintaining night nursings.

Happy At Home said...

Yes, my lactation consultant also suggests oatmeal. She stated that it may not necessarily be anything in the oatmeal but rather that you're giving your body something good for it.
As for the excercising, I noticed a supply drop with regular excercise. One reason may be that if you run or anything slightly vigorous like that, you get lactic acid flowing in your body. It can get in your milk and make it bitter if you do not allow time for it to "drain" out before nursing. Therefore, baby may not take it or may not take as much at that time of day resulting in a drop over time at that particular time of day, at least. Also, when you excercise, you burn calories. So, while nursing you will need that extra 500 calories PLUS adding back whatever you burn by excercising.
I truly enjoy your blog!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Jess, I had no idea you had another baby! I even had no idea you were pregnant, even though I'm at the end of my pregnancy myself (and due any day!). Haven't visited in a while. Congratulations!

One word of caution I do have to say as a nutritionist, is that sugar in sweet drinks is basically an anti-nutrient which gives your body nothing but empty calories. As a nursing mother, you need calories coupled with minerals, vitamins, protein and nourishing fats. I'd very, very, very strongly recommend trying to find an unsweetened drink to quench your thirst, and have more nourishing foods. I know how hard it can be to even find the *time* to eat with a new baby - been there!!

Good luck with your new little one.

Patricia said...

FYI: a relaxed baby-wise routine is the same as what is described in the book "the baby whisperer". Not a christian book but written by a lady who was a neonatal nurse who took care of hundreds of babies and learned to recognize their patterns and even cries. I've read both and tend towards the baby whisperer - incase anyone wants to read a similar book but without clock restrictions. She also tells how to help a baby learn to fall asleep without crying it out (too much!). :)

Patricia

Mrs. Anna T said...

PS: Just to say, it's alright to count on part of your calories to come from liquids, only they need to be coupled with nutrients. Think things like fruit smoothies based on whole milk or unsweetened yogurt. Or vegetable juices. Making a big batch and storing it in the fridge will provide refreshment and nourishment for a couple of days! It's worth the effort.

madelinemom said...

It sounds like things are going great!

If you keep noticing a decrease in milk supply, adding another middle of the night feeding is the only thing that really works for some mothers. There is something about a decrease in prolactin for the whole night that seems to signal to the body that less overall milk is needed. For me and a lot of mothers I know adding one or even two more feedings in the night was the only thing that preserved the milk supply. For some moms this is an issue from the very first baby but I know people for whom this was only an issue with later babies. Best wishes!

Persuaded said...

I was going to suggest oatmeal, and see that a few other have done so before me:-D It seems to be absolutely wonderful for increasing supply.... for almost everyone who tries it:-D

Sounds like everyone at your house is doing so well!

WyndiByrd said...

Hi Jess,

I stumbled across your blog just a few weeks before I had my first little guy. He was born a month early and had plenty of problems gaining weight in those first weeks. I also have a low milk supply and have been supplementing while trying everything I can to increase my supply. All of these things have thrown off my plans.

I may be making this up, but I think I read that your first little guy was early? If so, did you notice any differences in how quickly he got with the program. I'm at 10 weeks now and can pretty much predict that my little guy will sleep 11 to 4 then again until about 8. I've had a few longer nights, but they have been sporadic.

He's started sleeping longer between feedings during the day, which was ok at first because he had been wanting to eat every 2 hours for his daytime feedings, but I'm wondering if I should wake him up closer to the 3 hr. mark instead of letting him sleep til he wakes.

Anyway, just curious what you thought.

Thanks for being willing to pass along your experience. It's invaluable!

Wyndi

Jess said...

Hi Wyndi,
My oldest was in the NICU for meconium inhalation, not being a preemie. So far, I've not had one of those, so you're right, things can be quite different with a littler person. If he's at 10 weeks and doing 11 to 4, that's pretty good, I'd say, for starting out smaller, etc.

If I were you, the only thing I'd change is that I only let them do one stretch that's longer than that 3 & 1/2 hour mark... so the 4 to 8 thing, I'd probably wake him up closer to 7 to do a sooner feeding then, so that he gets used to grouping his long sleep all in one bundle. Does that make sense?

As far as daytime sleeping, I wake them up by the 3 or 3 & 1/2 hour mark until they're consistently sleeping through the night (STTN). Until they are STTN, we don't extend daytime cycles at all.

But you can assess what he's doing and you know him best, and if he's doing well, and you're fine with it, then what he's doing sounds good to me.

I'm glad this has been helpful for you- I remember with my first one, going back so many times to the book with questions, issues... wondering, "what about this?" Or, "how should I handle that?" Hang in there-- you're in a rough season, waiting for sleep to come, but it will come! Enjoy these early weeks with your little man.
~Jess

The Houks said...

Jess,

I found your blog through mutual friends as we serve in India. I just had our second little boy 6 weeks ago. We used babywise with our first and it worked well. This time around I am really struggling. His night time is amazing (only waking once) but our days are miserable. He has a very hard time falling asleep for naps, is waking very early after only 20-30 minutes of sleep and is getting generally fussier as the days pass. I have tried very hard to evaluate his waketime (keeping it as short as 45 minutes and no longer than an hour) but nothing seems to be working. I feel like if I knew him well enough I could figure this out, but I am not getting anywhere. Any advice?

Blessings,

Michelle

Jess said...

Michelle-- I put this comment over on your blog too, but thought I'd copy it over here in case it could help someone else--

----------------------
Hi Michelle,
I got your message about Babywise-- feel free to email me privately makinghome (at) pobox.com...

I have a few quick thoughts for you--
(1) gas drops/simethicone-- are you using it? Could be gas that's waking him up mid-nap.

(2) Is he too hot/too cold?

(3) Do you have any kind of white noise machine (fan/aircon/heater/soft music)? It could be that he is sensitive to specific noises...

(4) swaddling-- do you wrap him tight? It could be that he is waking himself up by those sudden jerky newborn movements they make... and swaddling helps immensely with that.

(5) do you use a pacifier? We do, in those early weeks especially, as it seems to help get them over the "hump" of wake to sleepiness... but I know we all feel differently about pacifiers. :)

(6) Sometimes it's that we're putting them down too late/not early enough, too. That 45 minute-1 hour waketime sounds awfully long (to me) for so little a guy. Really, 15-20 minutes might be plenty (except for the evening waketime). He might be overstimulated by being awake too long and then not be able to settle as easily or as soundly.


That's enough for now... please feel free to email me back, I'd be happy to help you think it through more carefully- it would be helpful to have a rough daily schedule to see what's happening. I hope this helps. Hang in there...
~Jess