We all know the joy and love of having a new baby in the house. The gooey feelings and that new baby smell are great for new mums. But most new mums are not ready for the sleep deprivation that move in with their little bundle of joy!
Are you a new mum or do you know a new mum? Grab a warm drink and find out how to get better sleep as a new mum.
Before we go into the tips that help with better sleep, let’s look at the consequences of poor sleep on new mums.
As a new mum, what can happen if I don’t sleep well?
Lack of sleep is more dangerous than you think, especially for new parents. Being sleep-deprived will reduce your ability to be the best parent for your child. It affects your body, your mood, your personality and so much more. Some of the consequences of being sleep deprived are:
- Anxiety and even depression. When you do not have sufficient sleep, you’re more likely to fall prey to bad moods, entertain negative thoughts and experience anxiety. If you’ve had any previous struggles with your mental health, you may be more prone to this.
- Increased Irritability. We all know that a lack of sleep can make one short-tempered. You may find yourself lashing out at others and maybe even being uncharacteristically angry at others- even oui babies.
- Injuries and accidents. A lack of sleep will make you feel tired and less alert. Naturally, this could make you prone to accidents and injuries.
- Postpartum depression. Lack of sleep can worsen postpartum depression. Want to know more about Postpartum depression? Click here to read more about it.
- Increased stress and consequently a tendency to make poor parenting decisions.
Tips for better sleep
Prioritizing sleep as a new mum is of utmost importance. Adequate sleep means more energy to care for your newborn. Infants typically have short sleep cycles of about 1 to 3 hours. This means that they are awake several times during the night. It is essential to learn what works best for you and your baby, along with your partner, of course.
Sleep when your baby sleeps
This is the common advice given by experts and health professionals. You might not be able to sleep for long periods of time but even short naps can help you recharge and reduce your stress level. Napping when your baby naps may not be convenient especially when you have other children around, lots of household chores to do or you’re not able to sleep during the day. The key thing is to be intentional about your daytime naps. Ask for help with your older children, leave household chores till later and lay down in a quiet environment without distractions for some shut-eye.
Don’t be afraid to say no.
When there’s a new baby, you’re bound to have numerous friends and family members who want to visit and see the baby. Don’t be afraid to politely decline any visits till you have an established routine with your baby. You can also ask your visitors to come at a specific time. Remember to ensure visitors wash their hands and are properly sanitized before touching the baby.
Get your partner involved.
The African norm dictates that women are the homemakers and child nurturers. This automatically excludes men from the burden of childcare. Thankfully, things are changing and both men and women are understanding that men should be involved in childcare as much as possible.
Share your duties with your partner. Things like changing diapers, nighttime feedings and burpings can be done by your partner.
Ask for help.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Taking care of a baby alone is not a characteristic of a ‘strong black woman. Feel free to hire a nanny or childcare assistant. You may also allow your trusted family members to help out as much as possible. Take time out to do things for yourself, like getting your hair done, taking a stroll outside or eating a favourite meal. Remember that you matter too. It’s okay mama, you can do it!
Have good sleep hygiene.
This includes creating a good environment for sleep and a supportive bedtime routine for you and your baby.. Ensure the bedroom is cool and dark. Avoid caffeine and electronics before bed. Stick to a regular sleep schedule for better rest. You can also help your baby to sleep better by putting her down when she’s drowsy. Allowing your baby to self-soothe instead of picking them up every time they fuss might also help them sleep better.
Start sleep training early.
Sleep training simply means allowing your baby to fall asleep by themselves. This means that they learn how to fall asleep by themselves without being held or soothed. Its best to start this for your baby by the age of 6 months. Want to learn more about sleep training? Stay close to the blog for more!
Till my next post,
Dr Omotola Oke