For many new mothers, motherhood is not as calm and peaceful as ads make it out to be. The reality is that many new mums are sleep-deprived, and the sleep deprivation often starts during the last months of pregnancy. Newborn babies don’t develop a sleep routine until they are several months old, leading to chronic sleep deprivation and exhaustion in their mums. Chronic sleep deprivation puts new mums at a higher risk of postpartum depression, auto accidents and many other health problems. Here are eight ways for mum to get more rest.
1. Consider Your Sleep Needs
The time to start planning for sleep deprivation is in the third trimester of pregnancy. Expectant parents might start making plans to have a family member stay for a few weeks in order to help them with overnight baby care. If you can afford it, an au pair or night nurse is another option.
2. Use the Hospital’s Nursery
After many months of waiting for the baby to arrive, you might want nothing more than to hold your new child. However, it may be worth allowing the nurses to handle diaper changes for the first night after giving birth. Have them bring the baby to you for feeding, but take advantage of the opportunity to sleep between nursing sessions.
3. Delegate Responsibilities
You just had a baby. Let other people handle housework, grocery shopping, laundry and errands. If you have an older child, ask family members or neighbours to lend a hand. Perhaps a relative could take your older child to a movie, or maybe a neighbour with kids could invite your older child over for lunch and a play date.
4. Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
When the baby finally falls asleep, you might be tempted to use that time to do the laundry, vacuum or wash the dishes. It’s better for you to catch up on sleep. If possible, have a cradle, bassinet or co-sleeper in your bedroom. Situate it next to your comfortable bed, and sleep while your baby sleeps. Even if you’re sound asleep, you’ll hear your baby cry if they wake up. Your brain is wired to respond to your baby’s cry.
5. Accept Help
Don’t decline any offers of help. If the neighbour offers to bring you a meal, accept. If a relative offers to pick up groceries for you, accept. If your spouse says they will wash the laundry, let them do it, even if it isn’t done to your standards. Letting go of some of your responsibilities allows you to properly care for yourself and your new baby.
Consider paying a housekeeper or lawn care tech to handle those chores. If people ask what you need for the baby, ask for meal delivery or a month of housecleaning services.
7. Think Ahead
This stage of life won’t last forever. Babies grow and develop quickly. Have some patience and know that about half of babies sleep for a six-hour stretch by six months, and almost all babies do this by 12 months.
8. Pay Attention
Watch out for your health. Insomnia could be related to postpartum depression or thyroid disease. Get checked out by your doctor if you think something’s wrong.