After writing about Hannah last night, it got me thinking about her sleeping at night. At her age she physically doesn't need to eat as often as she does throughout the night, so therefore she's doing it out of habit and comfort.
Last night, when she awoke 4 hours after her last feeding, instead of doing what is easiest (potty her, nurse her, lay her back down), I instead listened to her cry and realized she was making the tired cry, not the hungry cry (confirming my suspicions that she wasn't waking due to physical hunger, but more out of habit and comfort).
So, I changed her diaper and then laid her back down. As expected, she wasn't very thrilled about this change in schedule, and cried some as I patted and rubbed her back. It definitely took some patience as no one likes a crying baby in the middle of the night, especially when you know how to "fix" it.
However, my patience quickly paid off, as she was asleep within ten minutes. Typically, if I had nursed her, she would've been back asleep in about that time as well. Also, if I had nursed her, she would've woke again in about 3 hours. This time, she didn't wake for another 4 hours, giving us a total of 8 hours between feedings.
At first, it may seem backwards that feeding a baby less often will result in more sleep. However, a closer look reveals why. When a baby is eating out of habit and/or comfort instead of for physical nourishment, they become reliant upon eating in order to go back to sleep. Hence, they wake easily and expect to eat. When you teach your baby how to put themselves back to sleep without eating, they learn this and are able to sleep longer.
On a side note: I share this because I know I enjoy hearing other mother's stories and methods; we can learn so much from each other if we can listen with open ears. However, I am in no way saying that every mom should treat night sleep/nursing how I have, nor that all babies are the same. Many moms I know acknowledge that their baby's night nursing is for habit/comfort, and they prefer it that way. Parenting is made up of a whole lot of conscience decisions, based upon what we value. I'm thankful that God has placed babies in many different families and we can, by His grace, raise them how we deem best.