The first week with a newborn baby is no joke! These 9 essential tips will help you survive postpartum sleep deprivation!
9 Essential Tips to Help You Survive Postpartum Sleep Deprivation
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Have you ever worried about how you are going to survive sleep deprivation with a newborn? You are not alone! The lack of sleep is one of the most challenging aspects of having a baby. We want to help you learn how to survive sleep deprivation and be able to enjoy every moment you have with your new baby!
Here are 9 essential tips to help you survive postpartum sleep deprivation!
Ask for Help
There is no shame in admitting that you might not be Wonder Woman! The first week with a newborn is most likely the hardest week you will have. During this time, reach out to friends and family who can assist you.
One of the things that saved me that first week was pumping my milk and putting it in a bottle. That way, my mom could stay up with my baby one of the nights she was visiting. I still had to wake up periodically to pump (keep that milk supply going strong!), but it was much more restful than worrying about my baby and waking up every 30 minutes.
Nap, Nap, Nap
I’m certain you’ve heard this before- sleep while your baby is sleeping! I cannot emphasize this enough. I know that there are dishes piling up, the laundry might be starting to smell funky, and your floor might look like an ant’s favorite restaurant, but sleep anyway! Close your little eyes, allow your mind to clear, and then sleep as long as your baby will let you.
One tiny note here: do NOT feel guilty for doing this. No one is judging you, and if they are, then you don’t need those kinds of people in your life!
Avoid These Things Before Bed
There are certain things that are so stimulating for our brains that we need to avoid them if we want any chance of falling asleep quickly (caffeine, I’m looking at you)! With a newborn baby, you may have to train your body to sleep earlier than usual. Especially if your baby has their longest stretch of sleep starting at 7. As soon as baby goes down, so should you!
Turn off your computer and phone at least one hour before sleeping. The light from electronics has a wavelength frequency that makes you more alert and inhibits the release of melatonin (your body’s natural sleep aid).
Spend the Night Away
Some new mothers like to book a hotel for one night soon after giving birth. To some, this might sound like torture, but to others, a saving grace! Trust me, you are going to want to spend at least one night away, no matter how cruel that might sound to you at the moment!
Plan to leave your baby will someone that you trust, like a parent or a sibling. Pump enough breast milk to get your baby through the night, or leave formula as a backup. Then, enjoy your evening away with your husband and sleep every second that you can! If you are breastfeeding, bring along a pump and make sure to pump every 3 hours or so.
Being a new mom can make even the toughest among us crumble underneath the anxiety and the worrying. When you can’t hear baby for longer than 3 minutes, your mind starts racing, “Is my baby breathing still? Are they ok? Why aren’t they crying? NURSE!”
That may sound a bit dramatic, but from personal experience, I can tell you it is not! Worrying has a purpose, it helps us keep baby safe. However, constant worrying to the point of not being able to rest is very unhealthy.
Try to relax and take a few deep breaths. Trust that your baby is going to be alright if you doze off for an hour or two while they are sleeping. When your mind is at ease, your sleep will be much more restful. I promise!
Prepare a Changing/Feeding Kit
One of the biggest culprits of lack of sleep during the first week is the nighttime feedings and diaper changes. To make these as quick and easy for you as possible, prepare a little kit that you keep on your nightstand.
Put diapers, wipes, burping cloths, bottles, a change of pajamas for baby, and a couple of snacks for you in your kit. That way, when baby wakes up at 3 in the morning, you don’t have to walk all around your house, stubbing your toe on every single dang toy scattered around your house. Sounds amazing, am I right?
Avoid Turning on Bright Lights During the Night
This is one of my hard and fast rules. I live by this rule like my life depends on it! When baby wakes up in the night, do not turn on every single light in the house. Why? It sends a message to baby saying, “it must be daytime, the lights are on”. Turn on a soft lamp if you must, but keep the lights to a minimum. You will learn to do incredible things in the dark, trust me!
Also- try to keep noise to a minimum. Avoid talking or playing with baby during the night, as it helps train baby that nighttime is not playtime. After a few months of that training, they should be on the right schedule.
Create a Nighttime Routine with Baby
Having a nighttime routine is very soothing for a baby. Around 7pm (or anytime you decide, the earlier the better ;)), give baby a warm bath. After their bath, you can feed them, swaddle them, sing to them, and then lay them down for the night. Make sure your routine is consistent. That way, baby knows that bathtime means nighttime.
My little one (now 18-months old) still goes down around 7pm after having her bath and getting her cuddles. Her nighttime routine has changed my relationship with my husband, we have so much more alone time!
During the first week, you may be thinking, “I am honestly never going to sleep again. I had my chance at a good night’s rest, but my time is up.” Although it might feel like it, this is not the case! You will one day sleep through the night, knowing that your baby is sleeping, too.
Hold on to the hope that things will get better. The first week is the hardest. You can do it. Before you know it, they will be sleeping 12-hours a night and you will wake up missing them! Enjoy the newborn stage, it goes by way too fast.
Michele is a Family Life Educator. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!