Health visitor makes me feel like crap :(

Just a bit of a rant really.

James is four months now. My health visitor suggested, and I'm saying suggested although she practically told me, that James needed to learn how to self soothe to go to sleep on a night. He's a breastfed baby and so frequently falls asleep on my chest and then I put him in his cot. But she told me to wake him gently if he falls asleep on me and then put him down awake. She thinks this will help with him waking in the night.

About a month ago he slept through the night for about a week, then started to sleep from about 8pm until 5am, have a feed and then go back to sleep until about 7:30/8am. Then about a fortnight ago I moved him out of his moses basket which he had out grown and into his cot, but kept him in our room. He was also having a bit of a growth spurt last week and so he had begun to wake up at about two for another feed.

I saw the hv on Tuesday at a baby group thing which was only attended by me and one other mother. Her baby is a little older than James and sleeps through the night, and is bottle fed, and is her second so she already knows what she's doing. As I understand it, bottle fed baby's sleep longer between feeds as the milk is harder for them to digest.

I feel like my hv is comparing me to this other baby when our two situations are completely different. I thought James was sleeping well, going from 8pm to 5am, and then a little further after feeding, and I thought the hiccup in his sleeping was down to a combination of factors including his move to a bigger bed and his growth spurt, both of which I've read can affect how well they sleep. But she made me feel almost inadequate as a parent by not having James already into a self soothing routine. I tried the technique she suggested tonight which was the 'cry it out' method. And it was the hardest hour and a half I've ever suffered. He was absolutely distraught. And so was I. In the end I picked him back up and nursed him to sleep.

I feel like I have to lie to the health visitors because they seem to compare me and James to other mums, especially the bottle feeding mums. When she asks how often he feeds I outright lie to their faces, and I don't realise I'm doing it until I've said it because when I told them he was feeding every two/three hours once, I got a bit of a look, like "oh, he should be going longer than that. Baby X can go four/five hours" Well baby X is not my baby, and is bottle fed!!!

I just feel very unsure around them. As a first time mum, I thought they were meant to be your friends, but they more I hear about health visitors, and the more I see them, the more I feel like they're only my friends if I do exactly what they say and stick to some unwritten guideline they have.

I thought I was doing ok as a mother, other mothers have said his sleeping was good for his age. I want to do what's best for James, and be the best mother I can be for him, and I thought I was doing this. But the hv just seem to knock my confidence and make me question myself.

Ok rant over. Thanks for reading if you've made it this far. Take care everyone. xx

29 Replies

  • Dont listen to her hun.he is your baby and doing fantastically well with sleeping! Its normal for babies to still wake up for feeds up until around 6mths sometimes longer and especially breastfed babies. I am not a huge fan of hv as all the ones ive seen since having my first 5yrs ago ive only liked 2!!!!! Raaaa im so mad on your behalf! Carry on doing what you are doing hun xx

  • Sounds Like ur doing great and so is he everything ur saying sounds right just keep doing what ur doing if it works for for... don't worry about their opinions I think that is fantastic for breast fed baby. .. mine never slept that well so pat urself on the back and don't doubt urself x

  • Bless you, don't feel like crap it sounds like you are doing an excellent job! I think that the way to think about HV's advice is that they are trying to guide you towards an 'ideal' ie babies that completely self soothe and sleep through the night etc. (that's not to say that HV always intend their advice that way, but that's how we should try to take it!)

    Comparing babies is always a road to nowhere as they're all different, for what it's worth my exclusively breastfed son was no where near at good at sleeping at James! It's no easy task to breastfeed, transition to a cot, and get through a growth spurt at the same time. Take her advice with a massive pinch of salt - give yourself a pat on the back, you're obviously doing very well x

  • Thank you ladies. It's nice to hear that what I'm doing is ok from someone other than my partner, he has to agree with me! All the health visitors I've seen so far seem really nice, including this one, but it just felt like an attack. Maybe it's because I'm young ish (24) compared to her and this other mother, maybe I'm just taking things too personal.

    I went for a bath to calm myself down after I put James to sleep as I was on the verge of tears, and the more I've thought about it, the more I've decided that James can be nursed to sleep if I want him to be! And she can tilt her head and "um" and "ahh" all she wants. xx

  • There is nothing like wrong or right about raising your baby it's whatever works for you.for example i feed my baby on demand well I make the milk when she's hungry they told me to feed her every 3hrs this doesn't wrk for my baby so I stick to what works.every baby is different they can't have one rule!!dont listen to them

  • I no longer listen to or even engage with our HV - she is so dictatorial it's untrue, with chestnuts like the long list of food I should avoid eating myself if I'm breastfeeding (including fruit!!) to avoid giving LO colic!!!

    She literally enraged a whole load of mums with a session she did on weaning at our local Children's Centre too!!

    Samuel feeds to sleep. He can self sooth, but only if he wakes at night - that's largely as I don't pick him up unless there are hunger cues. There is NO WAY I would wake him to put him to sleep!!! If your set up is working for you - go with it. Xx

  • Chin up bird! You just go with what you know and give yourself a break, it may be that you HV isn't aware that she makes you feel this way so try not to take it personally. At the end of the day babies are individual from the moment they're born and you know your baby best. All of a sudden he'll go through the night no bother and learn to self settle and you'll wonder what the fuss was :)

  • I think it sounds like you are doing great without any unwelcome advice. My three were all breast fed and didn't sleep through until at least 6 months old, in fact my eldest was almost 1 before I had her sleeping through all night even though she wasn't breast fed by then. All kids are different and just have to go with it. Do what makes you happy and just smile and nod when talking to so called professionals that just like to make mums lives difficult xxxx

  • Ah don't worry about that rubbish! I wouldn't wake James deliberately to lay him down! I've got a really nice health visitor....but when I used to work with them and midwives, etc before I had a baby, I found lots to be irritating and preachy! Most people just nod along to what they say then get on with bringing up their babies the way that works for them. In hospital i got continually told off and lectured and told different things so now i go by what i feel is right for James. Keep doing what you're doing, sounds good to me!! x

  • its ur baby do what works best 4 both of u as long as ur both happy .

    my 5week old sleeps up to 8.5 hrs in the night , at least 6 but which i worried was too long , she is bottle fed as she was loosing too much weight , i was told i NEEDED to do formula top ups at 2weeks old which was disheartening as i thought she was content and i was the 1 waking her 4 feeds as she wasnt , they said cos she wasnt getting enough milk her blood sugar would b low and cause her 2 b lathagic ( plus i was on strong pain killers 4 a c section and some said there is possible transfere to baby also causing drowsiness , feel guilty or wat ! ) sure enough with the top ups she gained weight and was waking and crying for feeds , i was happy to spend the time feeding her when i believed she was settled and getting enough but after an hr on me , she would then take 2oz bottles in 15mins ! having a 3yo who was due to start school, it just made sense to go formula . also at the point of termoil between breast and bottle i was told that the growth charts are done on bottle fed babies ! when she was born she weighed 7lb 13 , at 5 weeks she still only weighs 9lb 4 ,she now consistently gains and is between the 25th and 50th percentile but still small .

    when i compare how she is to how my son was , i allways get told all babies are different which is very true. i did manage to breastfeed him for 2 months and he never lost weight and gained well , he just got too demanding for me as i was still recovering from emergency c section and traumatic birth , even when we crossed over to formula he never settled like baby now, he was probably about 8mts old .

    moving them to a cot does unsettle them, as does moving the cot to their own room which u will find out , my son got unsettled going from baby bath to big bath !

    as for a growth spurt we know babies demand more at that point ( that was when i threw in the towel with my son ) sounds like ur doing just fine, keep up the good work.

    y on earth would u wake a baby to put them to sleep ? we all know at that point theres a sigh of relief and we did a tip toe away as not to disturb them ... ha ha

    if u listened to everyone , u wouldnt do anything cos they all contradict each other , iv found the 1s with children themselves are much more realistic and understanding the battle axes are normally the 1s who have no idea what its like being a mum .

    i was told in hospital with my daughter - i was naughty for giving her a dummy ' i bet u pick her up when she cries ' well of course i do ! 'o u shouldnt , u shold let them cry ' no thanks a dummy does us fine ...

    carry on as u are and do what ur happy with , which is making ur baby happy : )

  • saying that about the dummy just proves what you said about people contradicting themselves. When I was in hospital and James was in scbu, I told them he doesn't have a dummy and I wasn't wanting to use one and they tried to persuade me to use one!! They all contradict themselves at every point x

  • same was with my son, all types they tried to give him he spat it out, all he wanted was real thing, but my hospital had strict visiting hours, 10-2 then 4 till 8. not much time to spend and feed your baby. had to keep bringing my milk to hospital and let them use bottle, which he got used to and had lods of broblems going on breast when i got him home.

  • I don't believe in self-sooth strategy at all.....complete nonsense according to me.... Babies are not capable of throwing tantrums or black mailing, if they are crying they surely are expressing an emotion want or need... When Isabella came to this world I promised her and myself that I would always stand by her ...... So I am totally ignoring HV advise on self-soothing, I am also ignoring the advise for using dummy, if she has to suck she sucks on my clean skin or her own hand .... I would give her a teether though when time comes........ So. Don't worry you are doing perfectly well and as mother knows what's best for your child .......chin up girl

  • Just echoing what everyone is saying - all babies are different and just do what works for you both, whether it be dummy or cwtching to sleep (why not, it's lovely for you both!!), I could never do self-soothing, my daughter's now nearly two and a great sleeper...... Ignore her (I don't think half of them have any kids anyway so it's all out of a text book, not real experience) xx

  • I would go with what feels right for you. Although it is good after a few months not to go straight to a crying baby as this can cause them to become particularly clingy and cause greater anxiety when not with main caregiver sleeping from 8 till 5 straight is good going for a baby and as you said yourself a change in sleeping conditions and a growth spurt will both have a short term effect on sleeping pattern. As for the health visitor its probably best not to lie about what you do/ don't do but at the same time there are many different methods and parenting styles and they seem to be focused on one in particular, which is a little outdated in my view....I have worked with young children for 8 years so have some idea of what i'm talking about!

  • The lying to the health visitor was completely spontaneous, stemming from when I mentioned how often James fed and she disapprovingly told me he should be going longer. So the next time she asked, without even thinking about it, I just repeated what I heard another woman answer! Oops!

    They're happy with his weight gain and comment on what a happy baby he is so I'm not worried about him, I just have to remember to pause before I open my mouth next time! :) xx

  • Thanks for all the responses. It's really boosted my confidence back up. I'd never have ever considered making James self soothe if it wasn't for her insistence that I had to do it. I always assumed when the time was right for him, he'd put himself to sleep. He is a good sleeper, except for these past few weeks when he moved to his cot, and generally sleeps for nine to ten hours straight. But I guess this wasn't good enough for her.

    I'm usually really calm and relaxed about things, so it got me really stressed hearing him cry last night. I gave up and instantly felt better when I picked him up. As I see it, baby's cry when they need something, like ritz21 said, they don't know how to blackmail us. So we won't be attempting it again tonight. Xx

  • Your health visitor and story sounds very much like mine. My lo still feeds to sleep at six months (breast feeding also). He goes down about 7.30 and sleeps till about 5 when he wakes for a top up. My friend is a sleep therapist and even though the advice is to try and let them self settle, even she says do what works for you and your baby. I decided I will deal with if as and when and if it becomes a problem. I agree I'm certainly not waking my baby up to put him to bed! We tried self settling a couple of times but both got very distressed and I was afraid he would start to see bed as a punishment so went back to feed to sleep.

    I was also told that hv only have a small amount of training on breast feeding as the majority if new mums still bottle/formula feed. Not sure if its true though.

    I'm relieved to see Dr Fluffy is doing the same as us:) I also don't think you found like a young inexperienced mum, you sound like you know exactly what your doing and it's working we'll for you! Keep up the good work I say! Xxx

  • Sorry lots of typos in there!

  • You sound like your doing great 2 me. Every baby is different. My 2nd would only go 1.5hrs when feeding it was hell. Maybe your hv is goingwrong with the advice she is dishing out with her poorly attended group & needs 2 encourage mums abit more rather than upsetting them.

  • I've only just seen your post, and even though you've got plenty of feedback already, here's another one. Can't help but feeling angry on your behalf! First of all: 8pm until 5am is brilliant for that age! I know many mums of older babies who would die for that.

    And the waking up at two again - that seems to be quite common too as there is often a sleep regression around four months. We had that too, and it sorted itself out after two weeks.

    As to the self soothing: I've been given four different books on baby care by well meaning friends and relatives because I was moving countries shortly before birth - obviously they thought I needed all the support I could get ;)

    And even though these books sometimes take very different approaches to things, they have one thing in common: their advice about letting babies at that age cry things out. They all say it is quite outdated as this method makes babies give up in the assumption it's useless to cry because nobody is going to help them anyway. And this is heartbreaking if you think about it... The advice those books give is that you comfort them whenever they cry, nurse them to sleep if you have to, and they'll learn they are secure and loved and cared for which is said to be the best foundation for being able to fall asleep on their own eventually.

    My HV who is really lovely gave me the advice just to trust my instincts even as a first time mum and do what feels right, not what others say is right.

  • dont listen to her, my baby was feedin every hourfor first two month, then bottle every 2hr. and did not sleep through the night until he was 19months. he used to wake for bottle 3-5 times during the night. so what you doing is great, and tell your hv to stick it up her advise and not compare you boy or you to others.

  • Every child is different, don't allow the hv comparisons or anyone else's get you down! You know your own child. Sounds like you are doing a good job, just concentrate on the positives. You and your little one will find a routine that works for you both.

  • I've not met my HV yet, but had similar battles with the community midwives. They've come 5 times in the last week, different one every time, all giving different advice. Every single one has left me crying my eyes out, feeling inadequate and like a terrible mum. We've now got Thomas eating well and putting on weight, which I'm really proud of, but you just get "he should be eating more than that", or " why isn't he in a routine yet?". Erm, because he's 10 days old! He's healthy and happy, which is all that matters.

    One highlight was when a midwife suggested he should be taking more than double what we were feeding him per feed. He'd only been on bottles for 1 day, as we tried to breastfeed before then, so he wasn't used to having a lot of food at once, but she insisted he could take 100ml at a time. She practically force fed him, and he promptly threw it all back up, all over her. Go Thomas! We follow his lead now, and he's doing great.

    So yes, totally go with your own instincts - you are his mum and it's your decision!

    I meet my HV on Monday - really hope she's not as critical as the madwives have been.

  • That sucks about the midwives, or 'madwives' as you put it, hehehe! My Mum told me to expect to be told different things by different people, and that you should really just use your common sense (her only experience of this is 28 years ago, but doesn't sound like much has changed regarding advice from MWs and HVs!)

    And it sounds like Thomas knows what's best for him as well! Glad to hear he's happy and healthy, I hope you get on better with your HV :-) X

  • Thank you!

  • My little boy is breat fed and falls asleep on me- he is nearly 7months. I read this and it made me feel much better :-)

  • I read that a while ago and felt loads better about our situation.

    He is now eight and a half months old and still falls asleep on me. Which I don't mind. We have managed to get into a fairly good day routine with naps and meal etc. but night time is becoming a real issue now. He sleeps well some nights, but others he can wake every 40 mins or so. And now he can stand, all he wants to do is pull himself up and play sometimes. And if I don't come get him, he cry's like it is the end of the world!

    So starting tonight when he wakes for the first time I will let him nurse back to sleep, then if he wakes again, I am going to go reassure him offer him water, then basically leave him to cry if that is what he chooses to do :( Which I feel rotten about but he is old enough now i feel to be sleeping better than what he is. He slept better at four months old!

    It is going to be really hard on both of us, but it is something we have to do. Wish me luck :s

  • Good luck! Let us know how u get on x

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