The new year has begun and with it comes fun new opportunities and perhaps some not so fun challenges...
"Will I ever sleep again?” is the question I’m often asked by new mums and expecting parents, and my half-joking answer is
Some background, as a lactation consultant in private practice and a newborn care educator, I facilitate educational workshops on breastfeeding for expectant families and this question is often asked at prenatal workshops and consultations.
Before becoming a lactation consultant, I was a baby nurse in New York City and spent countless hours up at night with mums and babies who were bottle or breastfed.
Even morehours were spent sitting on the floor of dimly lit rooms with nursing mums and their babies, once my focus on breastfeeding families narrowed.
I understand that sleep is a truly precious commodity, something longed for which at times may seem elusive. The old adage “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is easier to say than it is to consistently achieve.
So when I give my clients the answer that they don’t want to hear, it’s initially for effect, the deeper answer always follows.
Your relationship with sleep will change by necessity. In the last trimester of pregnancy, many mums experience a baby who becomes extremely active at night just when mum is finally able to become comfortable enough to get some rest. Newborn babies tend to carry on this behaviorasthey need no concept of day or night so they request to be fed, changed, and cuddled, with immediacy. Needing to be fed about every two to three hours in general, the care of a baby particularly in the newborn stage is extremely time-intensive and consuming. (aka bonding!) There is little chance for the six to eight hours in a row of sleep that we may be used to, and those days are honestly not coming back anytime soon for new parents.
What to do? First, go through the stages of grief for the sleep routine you once loved and have now lost; move from denial to acceptance as soon as you possibly can, that acceptance will come in many forms and is key to moving forward. Once you’re there, accept help from those on your team, the people you trust to be with your baby so that you can have the peace of mind needed to get some rest. Understand and accept that you may not always fall asleep when the opportunity arises, but at least you’ll rest.
When your baby is sleeping try to put your feet up and relax. The adrenaline and discomfort from birthing may still be with you and you may also have a personality that demands puttingthings in order around your home. Do your best to resist this feeling- really! This is where your team comes in. Partners, parents, close friends, postpartum doulas are the folks you may rely on to do chores or cuddle baby while you recover, rest, and maybe even actually nap.
Consider bed-sharing, the evidence shows that babies can safely sleep with parents so this may be an option that works for your family.
Thank goodness babies grow up and your old friend sleep will become a more regular companion. Sleeping 4-6 hours in a row at night is considered sleeping through the night for younger babies. There will be progressions and regressions in your child’s sleep patterns due to growth and developmental leaps like teething, but things will become far easier and even more fun, no worries you too will survive!
Then one day......they’ll get their drivers license!
Breastfeeding Support Circles -Jan 15 & 29 3:30-5:30 pm
How to Breastfeed Naturally (prenatal breastfeeding workshop) - Jan 15. 6:30pm-9:00 pm
Caring for a Newborn Baby - Jan 29, 6:30pm-9:00 pm
Click here to sign up and attend!
Stream the Baby in the Family Caring for a Newborn Baby workshop
Baby in the Family has you covered! Based on our popular workshop this streaming film features real newborn babies being bathed, dressed etc.
Contact us to gift it to your expectant friends- it's the Essential baby shower gift!
Collaboration with Bodily
A comfortable bra paired with healthy nipples is imperative while nursing.
Try The Insider Bra, it's buttery soft and loved by so many nursing (and non-nursing) mums! The nipple protection and recovery system is100% organic, plant basedand literally yummy!!