Sleep can become a major focus of your life when you head home with a new babe, and often Mums become compulsive sleep hour counters; both of their own sleep and that of their new addition. For a while (in some cases a long while!) you may not get opportunities for long periods of uninterrupted sleep, but several tricks can help you adapt to your new life and new sleep routine.
The basic principle for the first few weeks of a babe’s life is that when they sleep you need to try and nap as well. You will not survive the night feeding if do not try and make it up in some capacity during each day. Pick a time in the afternoon when your babe has fallen asleep and, instead of using this time to get chores done or catch up on friends, turn the volume down on your mobile phone, take the home phone off the hook – even put a sign on the front door if need be, and make sure you get a nap. Just resting your eyes will refresh you enough to get through what may be a night of wakefulness.
On that note, it is useful to start early to get your babe into a good routine of day and night time. Though you cannot use controlled crying on a newborn, you can start to distinguish very early between night and day and begin a routine. Day time feeding is social, a time when you chat and socialize with your babe. Night time feeding is about low lights, quiet sounds, not much talk. Try to change, feed and settle your babe in this manner, with the hope that they get to know you do not seem to have as much interest in socialising with them when the sun goes down.
For those who really suffer with sleep deprivation, a little tip for breast feeders is that to feed a babe lying down. In this way your babe can feed while you at least get an opportunity to “rest” and close your eyes. For some babes the warmth of lying beside you helps them get to sleep as well. Place your sleeping baby back into their own bed and you can both get some more sleep.
Getting sleep during the day with a new babe can become even more of a challenge when you have a toddler as well. Try and keep toddlers in the habit of an afternoon nap for as long as it still suits the both of you. They may not want to sleep but should be able to have “quiet time” for reading in the afternoons, at a time convenient to you. Many parents often work on the principle that if toddlers stay up all day they will sleep better at night. This is often not the case as an over tired toddler can have very disturbed sleep at night and take some time to relax before bedtime.
In summary, the first few weeks of a newborns life is often a hectic, joyous but tiring time for new parents. You need to work out a routine that suits you but also helps you get nap time every day so that you can get through the sometimes wakeful hours of the night.