Sleep deprivation in parents is common after having a baby. Caring for a newborn can take a toll on new parents, especially when it comes to sleep.
Caring for a baby is exhausting. Add to that the laundry, cooking, cleaning, and caring for yourself, new moms get easily overwhelmed.
One simple way of staving off sleep deprivation is doing less by asking for help. Babies were meant to be born into families of several members spanning several generations. Traditionally, while New Mom is nursing, cuddling, and sleeping, other family members are cooking, cleaning, and holding Baby while mom showers, eats and rests.
If you don’t have close friends or family nearby, include in your maternity leave budget a house-cleaning service that can come once a month, or once every two weeks. Also, maybe a friend, neighbor, or coworker would be willing to batch-cook and freeze easy-to-reheat meals for you for a small fee and grocery reimbursement.
Read on and learn more ways to help survive the sleep deprivation until Baby is ready to sleep through the night.
Rock as you rest
Rocking helps lull baby to sleep while giving you some time to relax. If you can rock Baby while sitting instead of standing, you’ll be much less exhausted!
Parents of multiples are at higher risk of developing sleep deprivation, especially if the babies are on different time schedules. When you have to be up for a while in the middle of the night, remember to eat and drink.
Do it in shifts
Taking turns is a simple survival strategy that works for most parents. Rotate wakings with your partner so you can get larger chunks of sleep.
Go to bed early
Going to bed early is hard for most adults, although this is the most effective way to get extra sleep. As soon as baby nods off, forget about your TV show or the laundry and go to bed. Going to bed early will be especially beneficial if you and your partner take care of Baby in shifts during the night.
Co-sleeping is how babies have slept for centuries. Most people assume co-sleeping means letting Baby sleep in your bed. However, the term refers to having Baby within arms reach at all times. In many modern, Western sleep-sharing families Baby sleeps in a bassinet next to their parents’ bed.
A note about pumping to skip night feedings
Many websites will suggest pumping enough during the day so your partner can cover the night feedings with a bottle while you sleep. While this offers some short-term convenience and isn’t a bad idea if you’re so sleep deprived you can’t function, it can cause long-term problems.
- Nighttime milk has higher levels of melatonin, which Baby can’t produce on his own and needs from your milk to help him sleep through the night. If Baby is drinking day time milk at night, he’s missing out on much-needed melatonin. It may take him longer to adapt to sleeping through the night.
- Nighttime milk also has hormones that “makes the brain work better, keeps one in a good mood, and helps with sleep-wake cycles. So it may be especially important for children to have evening or night breastmilk…for reasons beyond getting them to sleep.” (source)
- Breast milk supply is a response to demand. Your body replaces the milk that’s taken out. Since pumps are much less effective than babies at extracting milk, by choosing pumping over nursing you’re telling your body to make less breast milk. This could jeopardize your milk supply in the long run.
It is vital that you take care of yourself postpartum so you can take care of your baby properly, but keep in mind – babies need you! No one else! Sleeplessness is part of the package, Momma.
It’s hard, but this baby phase passes quickly. Just know you’re not alone!
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