“Help! My Baby Won’t Sleep at Night!”
Rosetta enters the midwife’s office with her one-month-old baby. She sets down the baby’s car seat with a noticeable thump. “I’ve had it! I’m giving up breastfeeding,” she declares. “I put her on the breast and she eats well. She falls asleep at the breast and seems satisfied,” she explains. “But, one hour later she grunts, rolls her eyes around, and puckers her lips,” Rosetta moans. “I get out of bed and work desperately to get her back on the breast. She finally eats and falls back asleep.”
Rosetta’s energy seems to be mounting as she goes on to say, “It starts all over one hour later! — the grunts, her eyes popping open, those mouth movements! I can’t go on. Maybe she would sleep better on formula.”
At the birth center Rosetta had learned about “early feeding cues.” Early on it was important to bring her newborn to the breast at any early sign of distress: bringing hand to mouth, smacking her lips, or wiggling and squirming. However, things are changing now that breastfeeding is well established.
Signs that breastfeeding is well established for mother and baby include: birth weight regained by two weeks of age; baby gaining 150-200 gm (5-7 ounces a week); baby satisfied after eating; and baby having 6 yellow stools a day. Now it’s time to learn about Active/Light sleep.
As babies mature, they develop two different sleep cycles: Still/Deep sleep and Active/Light sleep. Babies “look asleep” in the Still/Deep sleep cycle. (CLICK here to see video).They are totally still; their breathing is nice and regular; the baby makes no sounds. However, in Active/Light sleep a baby will twitch, make mouth movements, open and close her eyes, and even make grunting or cooing sounds. But she is still asleep, just in Active/Light sleep.
Babies spend 60% of their time in Active/Light sleep and 40% in Still/Deep sleep.
Some mothers worry that their baby is not “getting a good night’s sleep.” However, during Active/Light sleep blood circulation to the brain increases. Active/Light sleep is important for healthy, long-term brain development. If left alone for a few minutes, in Active/Light sleep, the baby will often get quiet again and go back to Still/Deep sleep.
Rosetta is quickly reassured about her baby’s growth when the nurse reminds her that the baby regained her birth weight by Day 10 and has since gained one ounce (28 gm) a day. This mother is also interested to learn that some babies have especially noisy, busy Active/Light cycles. After hearing briefly about the two normal sleep cycles, Rosetta promises to watch for the differences.
She calls back Wednesday with a lift to her voice. “Yep, I just let her wiggle and squirm a few minutes. She really surprised me by going back to Still/Deep sleep in only ten minutes. She didn’t wake me up to REALLY eat for another forty-five minutes. Both of us needed that extra sleep!”
With this timely information, and a bit more sleep, Rosetta is still a breastfeeding mother–and loving it!
© HUG Your Baby 2018