Marcelle, 30, a full-time mum from London, had a daughter, Jemima, 15 months. For the last year Marcelle had been surviving on three hours broken sleep a night.
Problem – 15 months old waking for a feed every hour.
It was midnight, we had just arrived home after a long drive and Jemima was crying and still refusing to sleep. Finally I snapped and shouted at her: “Will you just be quiet!” As soon as the words were out I was mortified. But for the previous 15 months I’d been surviving on three broken hours sleep a night.
Jemima shared our bed – it was the only way we got any sleep – and for the three months previously she’d been waking hourly, crying for 20 minutes and breast-feeding. This pattern followed a failed attempt at the controlled crying technique – where you leave a baby crying for longer periods each night until they finally learn to get themselves to sleep.
I was diagnosed as having post-natal depression but I knew it was down to the sleep deprivation. I’d count the hours until Justin got home from work so I could hand her over. If he was even a few minutes late I’d scream and shout at him.
He was sleep deprived too so our marriage took quite a battering. I lost weight and spent my days on the sofa feeding Jemima with no energy to clean, cook, shop or even go out.
My sole goal was to get five hours sleep – if I managed even three I’d phone friends to tell them. It was when I finally lost my rag with Jemima that Justin trawled the internet for a Sleep Clinic and found Millpond’s website.
Mandy said that the first thing to do was to move Jemima’s breast feed to before her bath at bedtime and to reduce the breast feeds over night. A healthy baby of 12 months or more, who is eating well in the day, doesn’t need to feed as much as this throughout the night. Part of the problem was that Jemima associated being fed with going to sleep so whenever she woke in the night instead of settling herself back to sleep she cried until I fed her.
It was important for her to learn other sleep cues, like a good bedtime routine: Laying down in a warm comfortable cot, a darkened room and a kiss goodnight. The next step was to introduce an evening routine.
I was told that when she woke in the night, to slowly, slowly reduce her feeds so that she stopped depending on milk during the night. We decided to keep one night feed for now.
Mandy reassured us that this would be hard work but if we stuck to the sleep plan we would soon see progress. She also warned we would be even more tired at the outset.
The next stage was getting baby Jemima to fall asleep on her own in her cot using the gentle steps of the gradual withdrawal programme. Slowly we worked through the series of steps set up for us by Mandy to help Jemima get used to happily settling sleepily in her cot.
She cried on and off in my arms as I rocked her for 20 minutes on the first night before falling asleep – which was hard – but by the second and third nights it was no more than 10 minutes of fussing.
Three days in she was going to sleep without a feed within minutes of lying down and when she woke through the night I quickly resettled her using the steps of the sleep plan. She had begun to understand the routine.
Because we used a gentle graduated sleep plan it took about four weeks to complete the process, but I’m happy we did it this way as there really was very minimal upset for Jemima and also for me.
Jemima has been sleeping through for almost four months now and I feel like a different woman. I’m finally enjoying motherhood.
See what families say about us
This training day has been very positively received by all members of the health visiting team. Staff feel better equipped to assess and provide advice on interventions that are evidence based to support parents. I strongly recommend that all clinical staff attend this extremely valuable training.”Carol Adams, Clinical Educator Health Visiting. Lewisham NHS Trust
Within my role as Infant Feeding Specialist – we have a large volume of mothers worried that their child is not sleeping, often equated to feeding concerns – this workshop has provided me with more in-depth strategies to support families with sleep issues. Lots of interesting research to follow-up and incorporate into my practice.”D Wilson, Infant Feeding Specialist
The HSE National Programme ‘Nurture’ engaged Millpond to deliver an extensive number of sleep workshop to registered public health nurses in the Republic of Ireland during 2018/19. Millpond provided an excellent professional service. They were open and willing to engagement and adaptation of the UK sleep programme to local needs. Feedback from the workshop participants was excellent. The Millpond trainers were flexible in developing the programme timetable and workshops were delivered over a wide geographical area in a timely and efficient manner.Virginia Pye, National Lead for Public Health Nursing, HSE
The landscape around children’s sleep is increasingly expansive and changing. Millpond’s up-to-date training meets the need to adapt to growing trends in child sleep challengers. Fully comprehensive and nurturing in their approach; encompassing all essential holistic and trending aspects in fully supporting a child’s emotional wellbeing to maximising a child’s sleep potential.Rozanne Hay, UK Representative & Director of Continuing Education for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants
I think this on-line course was presented very well, to a high standard.S Jelley, Community Nursery Nurse, Ceredigion
I have my Diploma in Children’s Service’s and have worked with wee ones (aged between 12weeks and 3 years) for 15 years, as a Nanny and within centers. Honestly, I think the course was brilliant. I loved it being online; it allowed for a ‘hands-up’ system which I think saves time and the content was so relevant, so much better than expected!Jane, Nanny, London
“An excellent training course with informed and sector-leading practitioners who have a wealth of knowledge and relevant experience.”A Williams, Early Years Pathfinder Staff Development & Training Officer, Flintshire
Really great to leave with a sense of a Tool Kit to support the children and families I work with.”T Harold- School Health Nurse and Community Practice Teacher
“Fantastic training very informative and interesting…really gained a lot of new information and strategies to help families in the future.”M Cartwright, B5 Child Health Nurse
I attended the workshop you did at Oakleigh special school. I wanted to say it was wonderful. I learned lots of new things and was impressed by your extensive knowledge about sleep, especially that it was backed up by research. Thank you.”T Nicholls
“As part of Mothercare’s community programme, Mandy hosted two 2 sleep workshops for parents. Parents were tremendously keen to attend and to get the best advice about good sleep practices for both babies and young children. Mandy’s sessions met the parent’s needs, resulting in parents feeling more confident and empowered afterwards.Mothercare's Parenting Consultant, Liz Day
I have no hesitation in recommending Mandy to host a workshop on children’s sleep whether to parents or professionals.
It’s thought provoking, interesting and contains good practical advice that works, so making sleep times easier and less stressful for both the child and the parent.”
I worked for 15 years making science and medical documentaries for BBC television. In 2011 I created my own digital company; Essential Parent (EP) to support new parents.Diana Hill, Essential Parent
EP works with the NHS, maternity hospitals, children’s centers and local authorities around the UK.
We chose Mandy Gurney as our sleep expert from many other possible candidates, since she was the only one who combined enormous authority, experience and knowledge, along with common sense and warmth. It’s a very rare combination of qualities and one which has served our parents, midwives and health visitors really well.
We’re enormously proud to be working with her – and we know just how lucky we are!”
Need sleep? …call us today direct on: 020 8444 0040