Before I had children people would tell me that the tiredness is hard, the hardest thing of  all. I thought I’d be fine. I thought it would just be similar to normal tiredness but a little worse, nothing a coffee wouldn’t sort out.

Boy was I wrong!

When the boy was a baby I didn’t cope with the tiredness well. I got snappy and short-tempered very easily. I resented having to get up to feed him. I hated it. The boy started sleeping through the night, and just to be clear by that I mean sleeping from 7pm until the morning (anytime after 5am) when he was 7/8 months. I couldn’t have been more thankful when it started to happen. Since then though he’s been a great sleeper. It’s rare for him to wake in the night.

This time around with Flixster I was much better prepared for the tiredness, I knew I’d be doing night feeds for a while. I secretly hoped he’d be a great sleeper from the off. It would have been amazing if he’d have slept through the night from the early weeks, but I know that frequent waking is natural and a protective factor against SIDS. This time though I’ve done things differently, and even though he is still feeding lots of in the night at 10 months I don’t feel as tired.

With Flixster I bed share to try to keep the night feeds simple and easy, something I didn’t do with the boy. I have always followed the safe bed sharing guidelines:

I do breastfeed

I never bed share if I’ve been drinking

I don’t take any drugs or medication so that rule is always followed (Don’t bed share if you do or have)

I don’t smoke

I keep pillows out-of-the-way and avoid blankets (Flixster kicks them off anyway!)

We have a firm mattress with no mattress topper or pillow top

Flixster wasn’t a small baby or pre-term

If I didn’t bedshare I don’t think I’d be the same mummy. We are trying very gently to encourage him to sleep in his cot. Each night sometime between 6pm and 7pm we get him ready for bed with his brother, give him one final feed and then put him down to sleep. It’s taken weeks and weeks of practise to get to the point where he doesn’t cry when we put him in the cot. We’ve been consistent in the approach so that he knows what to expect. We have never let him cry alone in the dark or cry in his cot. If you’d have asked me a fair few weeks ago I wouldn’t have been convinced we’d have even go to this point. However he does at the moment go down well in his cot a bedtime. Just a few months ago he would wake up every 30-45 minutes all evening and we’d forever be going up and down the stairs to try to re-settle him. So I know we’ve moved forward from that. Now he wakes anywhere between 8:30 and 2am for the first night feed. He’s only once gone through to 2am it’s by no means a regular thing (sadly!) So at his first wake up I take him into our bed for the night. I lie on my side to breastfeed him and he usually feeds and goes back to sleep. Sometimes he kicks around for a while not wanting to go back to sleep.I usually drift off too if and when he does.

He then wakes a few more times in the night and each time I feed him. For us its the easiest option. Mainly so I get the most amount of sleep possible. I never look at the time when he wakes, I never count the feeds. I think if I looked at the time I’d be calculating how much sleep I wasn’t getting and that would upset me. Instead I cope by just doing whats easy and gets us through. I know he won’t feed in the night forever. Of course I would rather get lots of sleep and not be interrupted, but I know for now it’s what he needs.

I have friends who finished night feeds within the first 10 weeks, other friends who still have toddlers of 3/4 years old waking in the night. There is no wrong or right age to ‘sleep through’.

How do you cope with night feeds? I’d love to hear about your experiences.