Congratulations! You may be pregnant, or maybe you just had a baby (and lucky you have time to read this)! There's no feeling more incredible than when you've just had a baby. So why don't you feel wonderful all the time?
Well, even the best events in life have stress attached to them. Having a baby is exciting for everyone. You've been flooded with company practically from the moment of delivery. Unfortunately, if you're a first-time mother, hospitals don't give you very much help or advice; they send you home with this new little creature with many demands that you have to interpret. And new babies don't sleep much. At least not long enough to allow you to get some much-needed rest.
Add the hormonal changes in your own body, and you have a formula that's guaranteed to be stressful. Sometimes you think you'll never get a full night's sleep again. But, until the baby settles into a routine, you probably won't!
To get through those first few weeks and months, here are a few tips to help you get at least a little more sleep.
1.) There's no such thing as a super parent
First of all, don't try to be a super parent. When the baby goes down for a nap, take a small nap yourself. The laundry can wait, and so can the dishes. You don't need to have a perfect house. There will be time for all that; give yourself a break whenever you get the opportunity.
2.) Enlist your partner's help
Even if you're breastfeeding, your partner can take a turn with night feeding if you pump and refrigerate your milk. You can also get more rest if your partner brings the baby to you at night for breastfeeding, so you don't have to get up as much.
3.) Ask someone to come over and help do the chores
If you have a good friend or relative to help out, by all means, take advantage of that for an afternoon. Instead of grandma holding the baby while you rest, have her help you around the house while you and baby get some much-needed rest.
4.) Split shift
Having someone else do the first nighttime feeding is a great way to get some hours of unbroken sleep. Then, even if you take over later in the night, you'll have gotten some much-needed rest.
5.) Rest while your baby sleeps
Until your baby starts sleeping longer stretches at night, naps can help you survive. Take a nap when your child falls asleep during the day. If you can't fall asleep, try lying down, meditating, and breathing. Don't worry about chores during this time, or limit yourself to one task — do laundry but leave the dishes for now.
Bedsharing is a great tool to get more rest during the night. It is biologically normal to share a bed with your baby and has many benefits for you and your child. However, just like crib sleeping, bedsharing can be safe and unsafe.
Here are a few things to consider before bedsharing with your baby:
First, make sure your bed and the sleep environment are safe for your baby.
You'll want a firm mattress with no soft cushions or pillows on the bed or near your baby.
There are no gaps between the mattress and bed frame, walls, or other furniture where a baby could get stuck.
Check for anything that could pose a hazard, such as dangling cords or loose bedding, and remove any potential dangers.
You can safely use a pillow while bedsharing; make sure no extra ones are lying around that could cause your baby to suffocate.
Be mindful of how high your bed is and what your baby would land on if they fell. If your bed is too high, you might want to try a floor bed.
Try to keep pets off the bed.
You should not bedshare if:
You smoke or have smokers in the house.
Your baby is premature or has low birth weight.
You have a soft mattress.
Formula feed (It's possible to bedshare without breastfeeding but take precautions if you want to bedshare with your formal feeding baby.)
You've drunk alcohol or are taking any medications that would make you sleep more deeply.
You're not following the Safe Sleep Seven
You are extremely sleep-deprived
With a few precautions, bedsharing can be a safe and rewarding experience for you and your baby.
For more information on how to safely bedshare, check out La Leche League International Safe Sleep Seven.
For more information on how to bed-share safely for formula-feeding babies, check out this podcast by my lovely friend Alexis Honey https://anchor.fm/thegentlecosleeper/episodes/Can-Formula-Families-Safely-Bedshare-e1c331u.
There may not be a magic trick for your little one to sleep through the night, but I hope these tips can help you get a little rest as a new parent. If you need help navigating this transition, reach out, and let's talk about how I can help.
Love & Sleep