It's 2 a.m. and your newborn is crying. Will you ever get a good night's sleep again?
Being a mother is one of the best things that a woman can experience. The joy of holding your newborn in your arms is priceless, but soon you go back to your old work routine, it hits you that you have a baby to take care of. It is not easy to adapt new mom’s life effectively, you do not get enough time to do anything for yourself. In such a scenario, you must manage to take out some time to look after your health as you have gone through pregnancy and childbirth, which takes a toll on your health. Your body needs all the care and relaxation, but with the responsibility of your baby, it seems quite impossible. One of the biggest issues that every new mom face is loss of sleep. Your body needs to relax but you cannot sleep due to many reasons, from insomnia to not getting enough sleep time. This can negatively affect your health, and it can also affect your child’s well-being.
Before your little bundle of joy arrived, you likely heard about the number of sleepless nights you will have. You might even have other moms describing the new mom days as feeling like a “walking zombie”. Even now you might be admitting to yourself that these rumors are true. Although life with a newborn is a round-the-clock adventure, don't lose hope. The good news is there are ways to avoid being that “walking zombie” during your new journey as a mother. You can almost always sneak in sleep. Just check out these sleep-saving tips to get back your much needed sleep time.
- Delegate your sleep time wisely
Yes, when they come to us, they are so sweet and helpless, we end up doing everything for them, and these habits are difficult to break. But then we have their children and realize that it’s impossible for one person to do it all. While it’s tempting to cover all household responsibilities yourself (to ensure that everything is done quickly and correctly), putting some effort into getting partners and children to pitch in can really pay off in the long run.
It’s no surprise that your newborn baby will wake up crying wanting to feed. Discuss the nighttime feeding with your loved one, so you can catch up on your needed sleep. One part of postpartum depression is sleep deprivation, so make sure you try and get your full night of rest. This might mean giving the baby a bottle of formula instead.
- Take a nap
When your baby sleeps, then you need to take a nap as well. You might have a lot of tasks to do, but your baby’s naptime isn’t the only time to get the list done. One way to keep yourself productive while your baby is active is to get a bouncy seat and baby carrier so when the baby is up you can tackle your to-do list while they keep busy. You might even want to learn to nurse while lying down. It’s a great way to bond with your child as you both will drift off to sleep.
A mother’s insomnia was caused mainly by her fear that the baby would be smothered by the sheets, roll out of bed, or be rolled upon by one of the parents. The trick is to put a white-noise machine and a night-light at the foot of the bed. The night-light allows the mother to check on her child without rousing both with bright lights, and the machine masks the little noises that babies always make, so they don’t disturb the mother particularly in her hormone-influenced hyperalert state. It’s only when the baby starts to fuss that the mother is awakened. The baby doesn’t have to work him- or herself into a window-rattling cry to get fed, so mom is less aroused.
- Ask for help
If you are a person who has always tackled every task and enjoys doing so, it might be needed for you to get some help, especially if you need some time to doze off. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When family or friends visit during the first few weeks, cast the usual social niceties aside and ask if they’d mind watching baby while you grab a quick nap. They’ll understand and hopefully be happy to help. Consider hiring someone to clean the house and ask someone else (such as a relative or friend) to spend an hour or two occasionally to take care of the newborn while you do so.
- Check out other rooming alternatives
Experts have long disagreed over where baby should sleep -- crib versus family bed, within or out of earshot, and so on. Don't count on a definitive verdict anytime soon. Instead, follow this rule of thumb: if your sleeping arrangement is keeping everybody up, try something else.
Put your baby’s crib in another room and have them sleep in there. You can use a baby monitor to listen for your little one’s cries. This option might likely help moms get well-rested and be better during the day.
- Get in the mood for sleep
Caring for a newborn baby can leave you feeling so exhausted that you expect to be able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat – only to find you can’t. If you have trouble falling asleep, make sure your environment is suited for sleep. It needs to be cool, quiet, dark and clutter free.
Sometimes it is not always easy to doze off into sleep on command. When sleeping opportunities do come, you need to prepare yourself to relax. Try using earplugs, an eye mask, or even a white noise machine. Ask your partner to take the baby out for a stroll, so you can get caught up on a nap. Consider changing your bedroom into a sanctuary. Purchase new bedsheets, add darkening blinds, and a scented mist. Do whatever you need to create the place of relaxation so you can fall asleep easily.
- Speak to your healthcare provider
Depending on your situation, your healthcare provider might recommend medication to help you fall asleep. But always remember, if your baby is sick, all bets are off! You may have great sleeping routines in place, but illness can derail your progress. Be patient, and one the baby is feeling better, things will go back to normal.
If the above tips haven’t worked for you and your baby refuses to settle at nighttime and cries for long periods especially after feeding, there may be a deeper issue at hand. Sleep consultants often find celiac intolerance as the underlying culprit for example. Once such problems are dealt with, afflicted babies almost instantly start sleeping better. It is worth consulting your doctor or a sleep consultant if you have any concerns. They can check for any dietary intolerances or allergies that could be causing problems.
Don’t let sleep deprivation affect you! According to worldwide studies, healthy babies typically adjust to a routine that involves five or more hours of sleep at night after the first two months, so keep reminding yourself that this phase is temporary. Almost all babies can sleep through the night as they reach six months, so hang in there, and remember to enjoy your newfound parenthood as you and your baby experience many new firsts.
We hope you have come away feeling better informed with some sleep-saving tips that will improve your journey into motherhood. Remember, it will pass and be kind to yourself in the meantime!