Being a new parent can be exhausting. Especially when your newborn is likely to wake several times during the night. It’s 2 a.m. and your newborn is crying. Will you ever get a good night’s sleep again? Most parents cope with a certain level of tiredness. But if you’re feeling low, bad tempered and unable to cope or enjoy things, you need to find a way of getting more sleep, or at least more rest. Here are some easy tips that may help exhausted parent feel more rested and sleep more after having a newborn.
#1 Share the nights if you can
If you have a partner, ask them to help. Divide the time between the two of you. If you’re formula feeding, they could share the feeds. If you’re breastfeeding, ask your partner to help with nappies or dressing in the morning so you can go back to sleep. While one sleeps in the first half of the night, the other takes over in the second half. Once you’re into a good breastfeeding routine, your partner could occasionally give a bottle of expressed breast milk during the night.
#2 Sleep when your baby sleeps
Try to rest when your baby sleeps. It might be tempting to use this time to catch up with housework or other chores, but sometimes getting rest is more important. For starters, newborn sleep is anything but predictable. This means that most parents have no idea at all when the next newborn nap is coming, or how long those night stretches will actually last. A nap can be anything from 15 minutes to 4 hours, so you can’t exactly count on any nap time, in particular, to be long enough for you to get some sleep. Set an alarm if you’re worried about sleeping for too long. In fact, catnaps are normal and healthy during the newborn stage, so in the time it takes you to set the baby down, get yourself ready for sleep, snuggle into bed, and attempt to drift off, your baby may have already had his fill of a catnap and be ready to eat again!
#3 Get help from friends and family
In the early weeks after birth, solicit all the help you can. If other people are making dinner and mowing the lawn and folding clothes, you don’t have to – and that might actually leave you more time to really rest.
#4 Make use of breast pumps
This one makes sense because the times when you are asleep, your husband could still feed your baby with mother’s milk that has been pumped out and stored. Moreover, unlike formula milk, mother’s milk has longer shelf life and doesn’t need to be discarded within 30 minutes. Expressed breastmilk can be stored for six hours at room temperature. But if the weather is hot, it is recommended that your baby is fed with the expressed milk within four hours. So, the baby might wake and cry, but that wouldn’t be a problem to deal with at that moment. Mothers could go to sleep in straight for at least four hours while their husbands take care of the babies from there.
#5 Sleep train
Honestly, the only way to reclaim your sleep fully is to coach your baby to better nights and rested naps. When you sleep train and help your baby learn to fall asleep independently, you are that much closer to sleeping through the night and enjoying a rested, predictable nap schedule. No amount of sleeping when your baby sleeps or asking for childcare help will get you the kind of quality sleep that sleep training will.
#6 Having the crib placed close to you
You may concern about co-sleeping with you baby due to emotional bonding, sense of security and nurturing that the baby derives in the process. In this case, you could consider placing your baby’s cot net to the mother’s side of the bed so you could rock it any time the baby is up.
*** When sleep becomes a struggle
Caring for a newborn might leave you so exhausted that you could fall asleep anytime, anywhere. However, that’s not always the case. If you have trouble falling asleep, make sure your environment is suited for sleep. Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool. Avoid nicotine, caffeine and alcohol late in the day or at night. Get regular physical activity — not too close to bedtime, if possible. Also, avoid stimulating light, such as from screens, and noise around bedtime.
Try not to agonize over falling asleep. If you’re not nodding off within a reasonable amount of time, get up and do a quiet activity, such as reading, until you feel sleepy. Then try going back to bed.
If you think you have a sleep problem, talk to your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying conditions can help you get the rest you need. Remember, taking good care of yourself — including getting adequate sleep — will help you take the best care of your baby.
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