Breastfeeding is simple and natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy! In fact, many moms say it’s one of the most challenging parts of motherhood, but I’ve got a little trick that might make it just a little bit easier.
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New moms are frequently told to allow their baby to nurse as long as the baby wants to nurse, and I agree with that. The first few weeks of a infant’s life are critical for establishing a mother’s milk supply, and allowing a baby to nurse frequently and for long intervals helps to establish a solid supply. This is also a sweet time for the mother and child to bond, and many moms enjoy it.
But once your baby is a few months old, has become a more efficient nurser, and your supply is established, long nursing sessions can become frustrating. These sessions are generally long not because the baby is still eating but because the baby has fallen asleep and won’t unlatch from the breast no matter what the mom tries.
If you’re a mom who nurses her baby to sleep, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s bedtime, and your baby has fallen asleep nursing. You unlatch her and she begins to root, so you let her back on. She dozes off again, and you try to unlatch her. Same results. You know she’ll start crying and wake back up if you don’t let her latch back on, so you continue to nurse her.
An hour later, she finally decides she doesn’t need to nurse anymore, so she unlatches herself, you lay her down, and all is well with the world. That is, until she stirs in a few minutes (or hopefully hours), realizes she’s no longer nursing, and you’re back to square one.
This was the routine for the first 9 months of Selah’s life. We had some good nights where she would only nurse for a few minutes, but most of the time, bedtime took an hour or longer. And while I loved nursing her and spending that time cuddling with her, that’s just not practical, especially if you have more than one child.
For personal reasons, we’ve chosen to forego any sort of cry it out method with our babies, so I had resigned myself to the fact that this was just the way it was going to be. I just had to let Selah nurse as long as she wanted. She wouldn’t take a paci, didn’t suck her thumb, and self-soothing was a foreign concept to her. So night after night, I would sit with her for at least an hour until she decided it was bedtime.
Surely there had to be a better way.
And there was.
I was desperate one day and began to ask around for no-cry sleep solution book recommendations. Without a doubt, the most recommended book was The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. I bought it in haste (hello, $4 used book on Amazon) and began to read it as soon as it came in the mail.
Many of the tactics were things that we had already tried and simply didn’t work for our child. There were little adjustments that we made (such as a set wake time) that helped a little bit, but I was ready to just chalk this one up to experience and hope that our next baby would be a better sleeper. 😉
But as I neared the end of the sleep solutions, I came across something that I’ve never heard before. As I shared it with other mom friends of mine, they were in the same boat: no one has ever heard of this! (Of course, unless they’ve read this book.) But after using it with my daughter just once, I knew this was the solution I had been looking for!
Now, hear me out.
This did not magically fix all of her sleep issues. She didn’t start sleeping through the night immediately or want to nurse less often. But it revolutionized bedtime. An hour and a half of nursing at bedtime turned into 15 minutes. FIFTEEN LITTLE TINY MINUTES. I felt like a magician. I could actually spend time with my husband in the evenings. Dishes got washed, toys got picked up, and the sun shined just a little brighter the next day.
So without further ado…
The Breastfeeding Trick That Changed My Life
As you’re nursing your baby to sleep, you’re going to notice that his sucking becomes lighter when he begins to doze off. That’s the zone that you’re looking for. If he’s still sucking with force, he’s not ready yet.
Once the baby’s sucking becomes light, unlatch him from the breast. If he begins to root, push up on his chin to hold his mouth closed. If he fights this and continues to root, allow him to re-latch and try again in thirty seconds. Then, unlatch and hold his mouth closed. Repeat until he doesn’t root.
This may take a few attempts the first time you try it. For us, it didn’t. It worked like magic. If Selah started to root, I just pushed up on her chin, and she stopped fighting immediately. It was the craziest thing, and I cried happy tears more than once.
This method also helps the baby to stay asleep longer, because when they stir in between sleep cycles, they aren’t automatically looking for the breast.
There you have it, friend, The magical breastfeeding trick that will shorten bedtime, lengthen your baby’s sleep (hopefully), and save you a little bit of sanity. Be sure to share this with other breastfeeding moms, because knowledge is power!
>>And for more sleep solutions, be sure to check out The No-Cry Sleep Solution! <<
Have you ever heard of this trick before? What other breastfeeding tricks do you use? Leave me a comment and tell me; help out your fellow mamas!
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