Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest problems affecting new parents. A newborn will not be tuned to day and night rhythms, and often end up awake and alert the whole night. This will throw your sleep out of the window for weeks and months together.
Lack of sleep for prolonged periods can have several repercussions on the parents who tend to the baby through the night, or on the parent who shoulders most of the responsibility. If you are a breastfeeding mom, there’s a chance that you haven’t napped since your little bundle has arrived home.
Despite having the odds stacked against you, you can still manage to catch up on some sleep if you are resourceful enough. Sharing the duties with your partner will help both of you catch some much-needed winks every night. Also, you can start saving beforehand to budget for the occasional luxury of a night nurse or a babysitter, should you need it.
Here are a few things that new moms can do to avert a serious sleep-deprivation crisis just when you are feeling the most tired you have ever felt in your life.
1. Keep a Log of Your Baby’s Sleep Habits
Most newborns are erratic with their sleep habits. They are not in sync with social or environmental cues and have a biological need to sleep between 16 to 18 hours in a 24-hour period. If you keep a log of your little one’s sleep habits you will be able to spot patterns around which you can plan your own nap.
There is not much choice for new parents other than to wait it out, but you can do your part to get your baby accustomed to normal sleep routine. Ensure your infant is exposed to daylight streaming in through windows and other day to day noises in your household. When she naps during the day make sure that you do not turn the light low or darken the room. Alternatively at night, ensure your baby’s room is cool and dark and there are no loud noises or interactions. Over time she will learn that it is peaceful to doze off at night. There are several free product samples online of soothing crib mobiles and soft cashmere blankets that help your baby sleep.
Please note that this doesn’t mean you do your best to prevent your newborn from sleeping during the day. This will only result in making your baby cranky and restless, and will also disrupt her feeding cycle. So the best thing you can do is try to get your newborn accustomed to your day-night routine.
2. Accept Help
A new mother will definitely need all the help she can get. Friends, family and loved ones will offer to help in one way or the other when you have your baby. Be sure to accept all the help you are offered!
If a relative can cuddle your baby for a couple of hours, you can use that time to catch up on some sleep. If a friend has offered to make a few days worth freezer meals, say yes by all means. This will save you time in the kitchen giving you an opportunity to get some sleep.
Sometimes your loved ones are not always sure of how they can help, so guide them and let them know what they can do. Watching over your baby as you nap, helping with household chores, offering to drop off and pick you up from pediatric visits, or just taking your older kids to the neighborhood park for an evening, can help relieve your stress.
If both you and your partner work, a newborn that is awake all night can leave you both completely exhausted and unable to function at work. One way out is to take turns or look after the baby in shifts. This will give each of you a few hours to get sleep every night.
You can also consider sleeping in a separate room while your partner attends to the infant. This will prevent your sleep from getting disturbed each time the baby cries, or it is time to feed. Or you can also consider packing your overnight bag and your little one’s diaper bag, and head to your mom’s place. Not only will you be able to care for your baby but will also get to soak in your mom’s love as well.
3. Try to Outsource Night-Time Feedings
If you can, try to outsource nighttime feedings to someone else. If your baby is solely breastfed, then it helps to get him accustomed to bottle early on. An extra bottle of pumped breast milk helps you get a few extra hours of sleep while the feeding is being taken care of. Also, you can introduce bottle feed if that is your choice to get more flexibility with feedings.
4. Discover Your Own Snooze-Inducing Activities
There are activities that help us doze off to sleep. If you can build a pre-sleep routine then that will be great in helping you catch up on some much-needed sleep. Many new mothers find it hard to sleep during daytime when their little ones are napping, but if you play some soothing music, read books or even put on some old DVDs, you may find it easier to doze off.
It just involves finding the right activity to get you in the sleep mode. Also, do not skip on nutrition. A healthy diet will also help you have enough stamina to withstand sleepless nights and cope with them better.
Sleep can prove to be a luxury for new mothers. But rest assured this phase cannot last beyond a few months, which is really not a very long period in the larger scheme of things. So try to catch enough winks and never tire yourself to the point of dozing off behind the wheel, and you will be just fine.
Ann Neal is a writer with a keen interest in fashion, family, parenting tips and lifestyle topics. She is passionate about music and loves to play guitar in her free time with her cute pooch listening quietly ;). Tweet her: @Ann_G_Neal