Sleep-deprivation and becoming a new mom go hand-in-hand, as you feed and care for your baby’s every need. However, self-care postpartum is also a necessity to ensure mom is well enough to look after a newborn.
Follow these tips to take care of yourself and learn to sleep more with a newborn baby.
The importance of postpartum care
We’ve all heard stories about the tragedies that can happen in early motherhood. They’ve been circulating time and time again.
- A sleep-deprived mom forgets her new baby in the car…only to discover the horrible mistake she’s made hours later.
- Baby’s unfortunate fall to the floor after an exhausted nursing mom, fell asleep with baby in arms.
- Postpartum depression that kicks in when mom is in and out of sleep for days, feeling like this stage will never end.
These are seriously unfortunate effects of sleep-deprivation. And they are the reality of things that can often occur during the very fragile stage after birth.
That’s why getting as much sleep as we can postpartum is so very important in a new mothers wellness routine. After birth, we don’t always feel like ourselves…our bodies are very different, a flood of hormones take over, we experience memory issues and we have an incredible responsibility of caring for a new creature before us. But taking care of yourself as much as you take care of baby is crucial, or your physical and mental health suffer.
Yes, there are many challenges to sleep more when we have a new baby, but making it a priority over housework and to-do lists is a must. Below we’ve outlined some practical ways to get more sleep into your routine!
How to get more sleep as a new mom
Sleep when the baby sleeps
I know, I know. I just hated this advice as a first-time mom. This sounds like one of those impossible sleep-deprived mom tips that just nobody can abide by. You have children to care for, meals to cook, a house to clean, errands to run, and never-ending to-do lists to tackle.
But the truth is, you have to prioritize your health, and that means sleeping when the time comes.
So take advantage of nap time. Even if it means a 20-minute power nap here and there. That can make all the difference, some days. For now, the chores and non-urgent to-do’s will have to wait. Your sleep is more important than the tiny stuff. Prioritizing mommy’s sleep means you’ll be that much better equipped to handle screaming babies in the middle of the night and diaper blowouts.
Train baby to sleep
It’s no doubt sleep-training baby is a super controversial topic. Some argue that forcing a newborn baby to sleep is just unnatural and often detrimental to their developmental needs, while others argue it’s not only possible but a must for new parents to keep their sanity those early weeks.
While I can see the validity in either side, I’ll be honest: sleep-training our spanking new baby was never a thought that crossed my mind. I felt that if baby was waking throughout the night, it was because he was truly hungry and needing food and comfort from mommy. However, once he was a few months old, I realized helping baby get on a schedule was a must. That’s why if at all possible, I recommend getting baby on your schedule so he or she eats more during the day, less at night, naps less an less throughout the day and more at night. Eventually their circadian rhythms will be in sync with day/night and on a much more amenable schedule, so everyone can sleep well.
Involve others as much as possible
If those dishes and errands are really getting to you, involve someone else. Maybe that’s your husband, your sister, or your mother-in-law. They can handle some things you need done while you make sure you stay healthy by getting enough postpartum sleep.
And if you have a toddler and older kids to care for at the same time, asking someone to babysit while you get some sleep might be the best thing you need. Even if it means hiring help — because the best time to invest in extra hands (and your health) is when actually need it.
Don’t try to do everything alone, super mama. You know that saying “It takes a village to raise a child.”? It’s so absolutely true. Just try it. Ask for help so you can get those extra hours of sleep mama! (And if you’re looking for your village, you can start here.)
Don’t rely on caffeinated products
You can’t force your body to power through the early days by coffee alone. And those sugary drinks and snacks will just make you crash and burn shortly after. Focus instead on healthy fruits, veggies and hydration, because they’ll make it easier for you to fall asleep when the time comes at night.
I know as a busy, new mom with little free time, it’s easy to snack on the go and often make unhealthy meal choices just for the sake of getting anything to eat. But choose wisely, grab a yogurt, granola bar, green smoothie and salad when you’re fueling up for the day and getting ready to sleep at night.
Go to bed earlier at night
This one might be a hard one to swallow, but listen carefully: GO TO SLEEP EARLY AT NIGHT. As a new mom, trying to take advantage of that precious time when baby is sleeping at night, I did everything and anything I needed…besides of course sleeping. I thought I could someone catch-up with the crazy schedule and still catch a few zzzs once my chores were done. However, the truth is you really need to try to rest when baby does at night, even if it’s earlier than your used to…because baby will wake up again at some point. If you’ve been following his schedule, you’ll be better able to deal with the frequent wakings, if you’re also doing the frequent napping.
This one may seem like the most obvious, but oftentimes you’re so sleep deprived, it’s overlooked! Get the postpartum sleep you need and get yourself to bed earlier.
As trite as it sounds, self-care for new moms really does come down to the basic heath tips we’ve heard for years but overlook. Eating well, hydrating and most importantly sleeping. Because the proof is in the pudding: getting more sleep has shown time and time again to improve mood, productivity, happiness and your ability to handle stressful situations. You owe it to yourself and your babies. Get some zzzs tonight.
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Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.