A mother was recently sharing that after months of anticipation and attending doula sessions and birthing classes, she had a smooth delivery of a baby boy. She and her husband were thrilled… but they were also tired. All they wanted to do was sleep, sleep, and sleep more, but with a newborn baby demanding food every two hours, sleep was impossible!
And with each passing day, it seemed to get worse. Feeding their baby son took an extreme toll on their mental and physical health, and they knew they’d be miserable if they were sleep-deprived and didn’t rest and recover. But with these tips from friends and family, they quickly got the sleep they needed to meet the grueling demands of a newborn baby.
Sleep when your baby sleeps
Sometimes you just want time to yourself to chill and relax when your baby sleeps—watch TV, Facebook, or Instagram, but those precious minutes between feedings can fly by if you’re not careful. Make the most of the time you have when your baby sleeps by using it to rest and recover. Day and night can be confusing when you’re on call every two hours with your newborn, but if you sleep when your baby sleeps, especially during the night, you’re a much more well-rested person during the day when you might be expecting guests or needing to get out for some fresh air.
Get help with burping and diaper changes
It can be hard to ask for help when you need it, but when you have newborn, friends and family often want to help. Don’t be shy! Enlist them in helping with burping and diaper changes, so you can sleep. Family and friends want face time with the new baby, and you can add valuable minutes to your sleep time with their assistance. It can be stressful hosting visitors right after giving birth, but if you allow them to help you with the baby and with getting more sleep, it’s a win-win for everyone.
Don’t rely on caffeine
Caffeinated drinks may seem like the easy answer to get through the day, but long term, you’re only hurting yourself. Sleep cannot be replaced by adrenaline or caffeine. While a cup of coffee a day or even one cup in the morning and one in the afternoon might provide some help to get you back on a schedule, do not rely on it as an alternative to sleep. When you experience that inevitable caffeine crash, your mind and body will feel the hours and hours of sleep deprivation that you’ve built up, and it won’t be pleasant.
Create a routine
Staying in your pajamas all day is tempting when you’re at home with your newborn. It’s hard to stick to a schedule beyond the demanding newborn feeding schedule, but creating a routine for yourself everyday allows your body to know when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to rest. Whether it’s a daily 20-minute walk around the neighborhood at 11AM or a phone call to a family member every other day at 3PM, create a routine that gives you something active to engage in during the day to stimulate your mental and physical health.
Keep track of your sleep
Just like you track your baby’s feeding schedule, track your sleep. How many minutes and hours of sleep do you get in 24 hours? Try to increase the time to 8 hours and you’ll feel a huge increase in your energy level throughout the day. Your sleep cycles are completely thrown off when you have a newborn, so it’s up to you to create time for sleep and your body will adapt. While 8 hours of sleep broken up in 1 hour or 30 minute increments doesn’t give you the deep sleep we all crave, it’s often the best you can get during the first few weeks with your newborn.
We all want to be the best parent we can be, but without adequate sleep, it can feel impossible. Prioritizing your sleep schedule with a newborn is one of the best things you can do post pregnancy for yourself and for your baby. After all, self-care in mind and body is essential to the long term care of your child.
At Circle 4 Parents, we offer a session related to sleep Sleep-Deprived Parents and several others on a variety of topics.
A Circle 4 Parents original blog.