It was a massive change to work out there were alternatives to feeding through the night
I was feeding my 11 month old daughter up to four times a night when I was referred to Tresillian Nepean’s Residential Stay. It was actually quite hard to admit to the nurses how bad I’d let it get, but they were fantastically caring, calm and upbeat.
The first thing we did was sort out our routine by setting out regular mealtimes including morning and afternoon tea. We looked at the day sleeps and I realised I probably wasn’t trying hard enough to settle her during the day. My daughter would sometimes do a poo when she was in her cot and the nurses said instead of getting her up, just change her quietly and go back to resettling her.
Learning the sleep queues was so helpful and they gave me some flashcards to help me so I could work out the tired signs. She goes to bed much more easily and is much calmer and we still find them handy, even now that we’re home.
Tresillian also taught us to listen to her cries and work out when she’d had enough. It was really helpful to know when to keep trying to re-settle, or when she was too agitated and it was time to give her a break.
We then looked at the night routine and they gave me some great re-settling techniques. If she was really upset I could give her a quick cuddle but then I learnt to put her back into the cot instead of trying to rock her to sleep.
Sometimes I didn’t even have to touch her - if Ava was sitting up, patting the cot would help her realise where she was meant to be and she’d lie down next to my hand. It was amazing the first time she did that as she went from being hysterical to laying down in her cot! Now I can just say ‘Ava, lay down’ from the door and she’ll lie down.
I also now use my voice to settle Ava, whether it’s saying ‘shush’ or singing to her. I remember one night I was trying to re-settle her and the nurse came and started shushing quite loudly. To be honest it was so loud it scared me but I think Ava actually liked it as it gave her something to focus on and calm her down.
The other reason I went to Tresillian was because I was about to go back to full time work and needed to wean. There were a few mums there who were also going back to work and the nurses were so supportive in helping us all to work out which feeds to drop to make that transition easier.
My husband got to stay and do a night so he learnt the routine and settling techniques too. That was so important to ensure we were both on board when we got home.
I have to mention the other highlights which were the delicious desserts with lunch and dinner and the comfortable bed (once I got Ava to sleep that is)!
Ava is now sleeping solidly from 6:30pm until 6am in the morning with no feeds overnight which is a huge difference to how she was before our Tresillian stay.
I’ve realised that just because you’ve done something out of convenience when your baby was little, it doesn’t have to continue as they get older. You don’t have to feel like you’ll always have kids in your bed or be breastfeeding at night forever, you just need to ask.