Parenting With IBS: How To Survive Night Wakings
Last updated: June 2023
Ever since my son was born, I have discovered so many things about parenting that don’t align with my preferred IBS routine. One of the bigger ones is night and early morning wakings.
My IBS is not a morning person
Ever since I got IBS, I have been struggling with mornings. Getting up early upsets my stomach, no matter how much I slept. And if I get up after too little sleep, I’m almost bound to have a flare-up.
In the past years, I had managed this IBS trigger by working from home, which allowed me to get enough sleep and not have to get up too early. But everything changes when you have a child.
Somehow, it never crossed my mind that my IBS would struggle with night feedings. I assumed I would be exhausted, tired, but not sick. And yet, that’s exactly what happened.
After waking up during the night or in the early morning, my IBS starts acting up. Not only does this make it hard to get the nursing and changing done (everything takes 5 times as long when you have to take a million bathroom breaks), but it also makes me super anxious about those night wakings.
Parenting tip: Get help (even just in theory)
After a couple of days, I noticed that I went to bed already panicking about how sick I would feel during the night. And I knew that I had to change something.
Now, my IBS is often triggered by anxiety. Like every time I have to go to an event or party. In these cases, I always make my partner promise that he’ll take me home as soon as I start feeling sick. Just knowing that there’s a way out is usually enough to keep my IBS at bay.
So, I tried to use the same technique here. I’m currently breastfeeding, which means that I have to get up. However, I asked my partner if he could prepare a bottle in case I felt truly terrible during the night. And he was.
Simply knowing that I have the possibility to hand night feedings over to someone else has decreased my nightly flare-ups so much!
Parenting tip: Get enough sleep before waking up
At first, we were doing 2-night feedings, one at around 1 am and another at around 4 am. And I struggled so much.
I barely got 2 hours of sleep before the first feeding, and getting up made me truly miserable. After that, I hardly had time to fall back asleep before it was time for the second feeding. At this point, between my newborn and IBS, I didn’t get much rest at all.
While I originally didn’t want to bottle feed, I soon realized that it was the only solution if I wanted to survive. So, my partner started doing the first night feeding with a bottle, while I went to bed earlier to get some sleep before the second feeding.
This way, I woke up after around 6 hours of sleep, which affected my stomach much less.
It might not be an ideal solution, but at this point, it was the best we could do. And living with IBS requires you to simply adapt your expectations to what your body is able to do!
Parenting tip: Do the bare minimum
Throughout my years with IBS, I have learned that I won’t always be able to do things perfectly. I’ll never be a perfect traveler because I can’t utilize the morning hours. I’ll never be perfectly productive because a flare-up is bound to interrupt. And I’ll never be the perfect, always available mother because that’s just the way IBS goes.
Instead of pursuing unachievable perfection, I need to simply try my best.
When it comes to night wakings, I gave up trying to do the nursing - burping – diaper change routine by myself. Instead, I decided to just nurse and let my partner do the rest. Sometimes I’m fine to do all of it, most of the time I am not. It’s okay either way.
By taking the pressure off, I’m able to reduce my anxiety and stress. And this, in turn, reduces the frequency of IBS flare-ups during the night and early mornings.
Instead of trying to be perfect, I simply focus on doing the bare minimum: keeping my baby fed and healthy. Even if that requires help.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?