Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Surviving on no sleep

We all know that newborn babies don't exactly sleep well, even those who love to sleep will need regular feeds and some struggle to settle, or have reflux, or just don't sleep for any number of reasons.
There are lots of things you can do to gently guide your newborn towards better sleep, and eventually sleeping through the night, but in the meantime night wakings are going to be a part of your life. The question is, how do you function during the day?

Emergency Sleep

If you have had less than four hours sleep in the last 24 hours then you are in desperate need of rest. The same can apply after very disrupted sleep for weeks or months. In that situation you are not safe to drive, not safe to share a bed with your baby, and can't function properly - although you might think you can. Life really is a struggle at that point, both physically and emotionally, and you are in desperate need of some emergency sleep.

This is the time when you need to rope in someone else, your partner, your mother, an understanding friend or a nanny. It doesn't have to be overnight, if they can only manage daytime, you are tired enough to sleep no matter what. First of all, if you are breastfeeding, express as much milk as you can. Then go to sleep while your helper cares for the baby somewhere where they wont disturb you. Have the breast pump set up near your bed so that if you wake with sore breasts you can just express quickly and go straight back to sleep. Don't get out of bed until you can't sleep any more. I heard of one mum who slept for a full 24 hours!

The world will seem like a whole new place in the morning.

Prioritise Rest

Make rest one of your most important priorities, right after making sure both you and the baby get fed. Yes, it's that old saying "sleep when the baby sleeps." I know it's tempting to use nap time to run round and get jobs done but housework really can take a back seat for a while. Clean laundry wont mean much if you are hallucinating through exhaustion. At least once a day either settle your baby for a nap or take them to bed with you (make your bed safe first) and rest, just lying down makes a big difference and if you fall asleep so much the better.

Use your Mornings

Mornings tend to be the easiest time, babies often nap well or are in their sunniest moods and you are as well rested as you are going to get. So make use of them! Do everything you possibly can first thing, from putting on the laundry and emptying the dishwasher to chopping the veg for dinner or even sticking it in the slowcooker. Later on in the day when you are really exhausted and the baby is grumpy you'll be thankful that you don't have to worry about cooking dinner. Plus you can get some rest in the evening, or even an early night, instead of staying up late to wash the dishes.

Get Things Done When Baby is Awake

Again, you want to be able to put your feet up when baby sleeps, and that means getting things done when she's awake. Get to know the things your baby likes best and build them into your routine. Does she love the sound of running water? Then she may well be happy in her bouncy chair while you have a shower or do the washing up. If he likes motion then try popping him in a sling while you dust and hoover. This approach kills two birds with one stone, you get things done and entertain your baby at the same time!