Friday, 5 September 2014

7 Sleep Tips for the Tired New Mommy

I know everyone says “sleep when the baby sleeps” but if you have other kids or you are a neat freak or you simply aren’t a great napper that is not always possible.  Now I’m not a sleep expert and I haven’t gone through the teething phase, but this is what helped us when Rosie decided that 3 AM was playtime/morning.
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Co-sleeping
Co-sleeping with teeny tiny newborn Rosie
We’ve co-slept since day one. The expert say it’s not safe, I say it’s the only way I get to sleep at all especially since Rosie is still waking 4 times a night to feed.  In order to ease my mind, I did a bunch of research about safe co- sleeping and this is what I found. First, you get one pillow which is tucked in under your arm and as for blankets never have them higher than the baby’s belly button. Second, tie up your hair, wear long sleeves if it’s cold and make sure there are no strings or loose fabrics on your sleepwear. Third, sleep on your side with one arm tucked under the pillow and the other loose over the blanket (to keep it from moving). Tuck in your knees and your baby should sleep on his/her back in the space between your lower arm and knees (like a baby nest). Fourth, the baby should always sleep with the mother and never between the parents.  Fifth, sleep with the baby as far from possible from the side of the bed, and once they get squirmy get a bed rail (cost about $40.00).  Fifth, dress the baby according to the weather and account for the extra heat coming from your own body. Sixth, never co-sleep if you smoke, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are obese, are extremely tired or if you bottle feed your baby. Finally, when the baby wakes to nurse, don’t get out of bed (I was an idiot and doing this for the two first weeks), and instead nurse lying down by pulling down or opening your top (made easier by wearing a sports bra). That way you get to go back to sleep and the baby will eventually fall asleep while nursing (usually).

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Get into a routine

Most people need a bedtime routine to signal that it’s time to sleep and babies are no different. When Rosie was first born, there was no routine and we had a very difficult time getting her to sleep. Now, we start around 8:30 – 9 PM getting her ready for bed.  If people are over past that time or if we are still out, it seems to mess her up and we spend the night trying to calm her down because she is over tired. We begin by darkening the room and Daddy changes her diaper and puts her in a sleeper. Then I nurse her a bit and once she’s full Daddy takes her and they both fall asleep. I get ready for bed and once I’m ready we bring her to bed, nurse her while she’s still drowsy and usually she will fall asleep shortly after her feed.  Develop a routine that works for you and stick to it.
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If you don’t need to get up … don’t

For a little while I was still trying to get up early even if Rosie was still sleeping. Then one day I realized that if I didn’t need to get up what was the point of waking up at a specific time? Clearly we both need the extra sleep and so now I sleep until she wakes up in the morning. If you have other kids, maybe Daddy can handle the morning routine or you can slip back into bed as soon as the other kiddos have been dealt with (television anyone?).  Most importantly, don’t feel guilty about staying in bed.  After all, you are up multiple times a night.
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Be boring

Rosie spent a week deciding that 3 AM was morning. She would want to play between 3 and 4 AM and then cry from 4 to 6 AM. It was awful. At first I used to get up and play with her, then rock and bounce her while she cried. That got old very fast and so I decided to try and stay in bed the next night.  Like clockwork she woke up at 3 AM but since I refused to play with her, get up and turn on lights, she only stayed up for 2 hours. Then the next night I stayed in bed again and was very brief and boring when talking to her. That night she only stayed up an hour and a half.  Soon enough she understood that night was for sleeping and now she usually sleeps through the night with about 4 brief wakes up to feed.
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Go to bed later

I look serene but really I'm thinking "Sleep! Dear God, please sleep!"

If you know that your baby only sleeps for 6 hours at night, don’t go to bed at 10 PM because you will wake up at 4 AM. I find it much easier to stay up later than to get up at a crazy hour. Decide what time you will want to wake up and then got to bed at the appropriate time. For example Rosie usually sleeps 8 hours so I go to bed at midnight and we will wake up around 8 AM. Honestly, I must say that I’m actually enjoying my late nights Netflix watching.

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Things will change

Realize that eventually your baby will sleep. This is just a phase and it will not last forever. How many people do you know that don’t sleep at night? Very few and even if your child is a night owl, they will get more manageable and distractible.  This thought helped me get through many sleepless nights.
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Pray
Some nights (or strings of nights) are just so awful that all you can do is pray. Even if it’s just “Lord give me strength”, prayer has gotten me through the worst sleep-deprived moments. As soon as I pray, I instantly feel able to get through the rest of the night (even when Rosie is screaming her head off). So arm yourself with a rosary and hang in there Mama.


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