As a pediatric sleep consultant and mom myself I know all too well how big of a toll sleep depri vation takes, especially during those first 3 months. We’re often in survival mode, but what if we could create a plan ahead of time to minimize the amount of sleep deprivation we may experience. There is a strong relationship between sleep and mental health which is why it’s extremely important to make sure you’re taking care of yourself the best you can. New moms have a 1 in 7 chance of developing postpartum depression and although there are many elements that can con tribute, sleep deprivation can be a major factor. Chronic sleep deprivation can have other signifi cant negative impacts on our bodies as well such as changes to metabolism and appetite, the im mune system, hormonal imbalances and increases our chances of developing serious health conditions.
I have curated a list of tips that will help you plan and cope with the effects of sleep deprivation as a new mom:
1. Don’t shy away from asking for help from friends and family. I know it’s not always easy and as a mom I also know the struggle of wanting to do everything yourself. Asking for help can mean assistance with your baby or even passing off household tasks. If you’re a friend of a new mom, ask to help out with non baby related tasks you think they might be too afraid to ask for help with.
2. Don’t feel bad for saying no when friends and family are asking to come over and meet your baby. While I appreciate that welcoming a little one into the world is super exciting, it’s also a huge adjustment and you should take as much time you need to establish as much of a routine as you can. Before my daughter was born we had decided we wouldn’t have any visitors for the first week. It’s definitely a personal choice, but you should do whatever you are most comfort able with and what works best for your family. If you’re a friend or family member of a mom with a newborn respect boundaries and don’t take it personally if your visiting request is denied.
3. A well balanced diet will help keep you nourished and feeling well. Before your baby is born you can prepare freezer meals so all you have to do is take them out and put them in the oven/slow cooker. If you’re visiting a new mom don’t be afraid to offer to bring food or coffee. Just remember to avoid caffeine late in the afternoon and evening to avoid it effecting your sleep at night. If you’re breastfeeding you can safely consume 200mg per day.
4. Practice healthy sleep habits for yourself and encourage them for your baby as well. Create a relaxing bedtime routine for yourself and don’t expose yourself to blue light for at least 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. Ensure your sleep environment is conducive for sleep - dark, cool and constant white noise which will be soothing for your little one. Increasing calories, and offering feedings every 2.5-3 hours, develop a consistent bedtime routine, and provide the perfect sleep environment will encourage healthy sleep habits for your newborn and eventually result in longer sleep stretches. Swaddling your newborn at night may help them sleep better and longer because it helps calm them, prevents the startle reflex and makes them feel like they are being snuggled close which provides a sense of security and comfort.
5. In addition to avoiding artificial light at night it’s important to expose yourself to sunlight as much as possible throughout the day. It has been shown that daylight improves night time sleep.
6. Don’t underestimate the power of a shower and a nap, even if it’s a short one. Naps are more restorative than usual when your body is sleep deprived. I encourage you to lie down even if you don’t fall asleep because you may still receive some benefits if you pass into a state of drowsy semi conscious sleep. Making sure you squeeze in a shower each day will also help you feel energized and refreshed.
7. Trade off nights with your partner or inquire with us about our night nanny support if you can, so at least one person is able to get a good nights sleep and both of you aren’t exhausted during the day. If you’re breastfeeding and your supply is established you can have your partner or night nurse bottle feed your baby. If you’re worried about a decreased supply you can have your partner or night nurse bring the baby to you for feedings and then they can get them back to sleep. You may find that trading off night shifts isn’t enough to help you get quality sleep. If you feel like you need a night of truly undisturbed sleep, you may want to have a night away in a separate room. Being well rested can only have positive impacts on your relationship, making this a healthy option.
8. There is a misconception that breastfeeding mothers get less sleep than mothers who bottle feed their baby's formula. This isn't always true and if you are breastfeeding you may get more sleep, especially if you’re sharing a bedroom with your baby. However, breastfeeding isn't always an option for every mother, and some may find it a challenge - in this case it is important to do what is best for you and your family! Preparing for the night ahead is important if you are pumping, or bottle feeding. Having the bottles and supplies prepared and close by for quick access will make things go quicker in the night. Some moms will even have a cooler bag, or mini fridge in their room to store pumped milk. These tips will ensure you can get the most rest possible.
9. Unfortunately the cleaning, laundry and dishes will always be there. You need to ensure that your sleep and well-being come before household tasks. There’s a well known saying “sleep when the baby sleeps” which I know isn’t as easy as it sounds but you may be able to get some of those tasks done when your baby is awake by baby wearing or using a swing.
10. Don’t worry about changing your baby’s diaper in the night if they are sleeping. If your baby can’t sleep due to a dirty diaper they will definitely let you know.
If you’re struggling and need extra support during the newborn stage, one of our sleep specialists would love to help you. We offer packages that are designed to help you implement and learn healthy sleep techniques that will create a consistent schedule and routine for your newborn. We even offer in-home night & daytime newborn support that is incredibly beneficial for your whole family.
Book your free consultation today by clicking the link below to learn more!
-Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant