While you were pregnant, you probably lost some sleep due to discomfort and that ever-present need to use the bathroom, but it was nothing compared to once you finally had the baby, right? The moment your baby is born, uninterrupted sleep is a thing of the past and a constant state of sleep deprivation is your new reality.
Despite this, it’s vital for you and your baby that you get as much sleep as you can. According to WebMD, sleep deprivation causes careless accidents, affects cognitive processes, can contribute to symptoms of depression, make you forgetful, and even put you at risk for heart problems.
Waking up at all hours of the night is bound to happen for new parents, but there are ways to cope with your new sleep schedule as best as possible, so you can be your best self for your new addition. Here are six things to remember during this exhausting phase of your life.
Limit visitors in the first few weeks or months
We know: This may be the most difficult one. You’re so excited to show your miracle off to your loved ones and they’re dying to get a look at your little one. But the more visitors you have means the less time you have to sleep and relax. Take some time to yourselves for this short phase.
Accept the help being offered
If you want to punch the next person who tells you “sleep when the baby sleeps,” you’ll like this one. If your loved ones do come over, have them watch the baby while you nap or help you with chores like laundry or grocery shopping – we have a feeling they won’t mind one bit! There is no shame in accepting help and you, your baby, and your loved ones will be happier for it in the end.
Splurge a bit
If you can swing it, consider hiring a cleaning service for the first few months, or ask family members to give you a hand. Knocking that out of the way will give you a bit more freedom to nap when you get a chance and the cleaner house will provide a more comfortable environment for you to fall asleep in.
Let your partner take over once in a while
Whatever your feeding routine looks like, it will help tremendously to pass off some of the responsibility to your partner, even if they’re already back at work. If your baby is breastfed, then prepare a bottle of pumped breast milk or formula before you go to bed so your partner can take over. Plus, this provides important bonding time for the two of them. It seems like a small change, but being able to string together a few hours of sleep will help tremendously.
Set yourself up for success
You may find that even when you do have a chance to get some shut eye, sleep just doesn’t come. You have a lot on your mind, after all. To help, create an environment that welcomes sleep. Avoid technology, like your phone or TV. Try meditative breathing, yoga, reading, or listening to the radio instead.
Lower your expectations
There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Forget about it. Your job right now is to make sure your baby is healthy and safe. Beyond that, it’s okay if you leave dishes in the sink or neglect a few things on your to-do list. What’s important is that your family enjoys this precious time together – it’ll go by in a flash.