I’ve been extremely blessed that Christopher has been a good sleeper from day one, waking up only a few times each night to eat (and going right back to sleep!!) – not all new moms are so lucky.
Most new moms find getting adequate sleep to be a challenge. Getting up constantly during the night is disruptive to quality sleep, and you’re not alone if you’re feeling exhausted and irritable. This survival guide will help you get more quality sleep and offer some coping strategies to make the temporary sleep loss easier to bear.
Getting More Quality Sleep:
1. Understand your sleep cycles.
The quality of sleep is more important than the quantity of sleep you get. Most people need 90 minutes to 2 hours of uninterrupted slumber to enter into restorative deep sleep. New moms need methods to provide adequate rest when they’re frequently getting up to care for their babies.
2. Use naps to supplement your nighttime sleep.
Until your baby sleeps through the night, naps can help you survive. Take a nap when your baby falls asleep during the day. Feeding your baby before a nap may help you both sleep longer.
3. Enlist your husband’s help.
Even if you’re breastfeeding, your husband can take a turn with night feeding if you pump and refrigerate your milk. You can also get more rest if he brings the baby to you at night for breastfeeding so you don’t have to walk around as much.
4. Seek out additional support.
The first weeks with a new baby are often the most demanding, so think ahead to arrange the support you’ll need. Ask friends and family to provide meals and/or help taking care of older children so you can focus on taking care of yourself and your new baby.
5. Ask someone else to cover the first nighttime feeding.
Having someone else do the first nighttime feeding is a great way to get some hours of unbroken sleep. Even if you takeover later in the night, you’ll have gotten some much needed rest.
6. Work towards a consistent sleep schedule.
Rest assured that this is temporary and look forward to getting back on a regular sleep schedule. You and your family will rest better when you have regular bedtimes. Aim to put your baby to bed at the same time each night, and go to bed when your baby does.
Coping Strategies for Temporary Sleep Loss:
Meditation provides some of the same benefits as sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep or there’s no time for a nap, try some quiet deep breathing. This is also a great way to stay refreshed spiritually – use these quick moments to take a deep breath and touch base with God through prayer.
2. Eat a healthy diet.
You can improve your sleep by avoiding excessive caffeine. Drink lots of water – dehydration can be tiring. A balanced diet will also help provide the energy you need.
3. Do gentle exercises.
If your doctor says it’s safe to exercise, a gentle workout may help you sleep better. You can find resources online or at your local library.
4. Take a shower.
A simple shower may help you feel refreshed quickly. A few minutes under the shower and a change of clothes can help you feel more awake.
5. Reduce other potential sources of stress.
As a new mom, you have a lot going on in your life, so try to minimize any additional stress. Older children or family and friends may be able to pitch in with household chores and helping to keep things running smoothly around the house. Try to avoid making any large decisions or drastic life changes until you’re back to a “normal” pattern of life.
6. Talk with your doctor.
Sleep deprivation can have serious effects on anybody, and new mothers are already dealing with many hormonal changes. Consult your doctor if you need help managing all the changes. It’s never a sign of weakness to ask for help! Your doctor can give you recommendations to keep you and your family happy and healthy.
Being a new mother is a joyful and enriching experience. Work at getting the quality sleep you need, and look forward to many happy years with your new baby.