One thing that I heard several times during my pregnancy with my first was to “sleep before the baby comes, because you won’t sleep for a long time after.” I always laughed at the statement. How bad could losing a little sleep be? It wasn’t until the first night home with her that I laughed at myself for thinking that. Getting up every two hours and then not having a baby that wanted to go back to sleep was completely and totally exhausting.
Every day for the next few months, I felt like a walking zombie. The lack of sleep was really getting to me, and sometimes I just begged for a quick five-minute nap. You know it’s bad when you just want to close your eyes for five minutes.
Six years later, I get a little bit more sleep than I did, but now I’m used to the lack of sleep that comes with motherhood. Thankfully, there were things that I’ve done over the years that have helped with the sleep deprivation.
- Ask for help.
This is probably the best thing you can do for yourself, especially if you are exhausted. Ask a family member to come over between feedings so you can catch some zzz’s. If you don’t have family nearby, ask a friend to do the same, or even think about hiring a babysitter. There is no shame is asking someone to help you with your baby. In fact, I recommend it to every new mom I know. It’s a lifesaver, and you will be so surprised what just one extra hour of sleep will do for your morale and your energy.
- Never underestimate the power of baby gear.
One of the reasons I never got any sleep when my kids were newborns was because they had no interest in sleeping in their cribs. Every time I’d lay them down (even if they were already asleep), they’d wake right up the second I put them in their crib. It wasn’t until I tried a swing like this Minnie Mouse Bows and Butterflies Baby-to-Big Kid Rocking Seat, or a bouncer, like this Geo Pooh Bouncer, that my kids immediately fell asleep. I remember putting my daughter in the swing for the first time and then laying on the couch next to her. As soon as I saw her eyes close, I immediately closed mine and was asleep within minutes. On those days that I couldn’t get them to sleep, baby gear like a swing or bouncer really saved me and allowed both my baby and I to catch up on our much needed sleep.
- The stuff can wait.
We always hear the saying “sleep when baby sleeps,” which sounds nearly impossible. But the truth is, you need to do it. I used to think that when my baby was sleeping was the perfect time for me to catch up on things around the house. I’d clean, do laundry, wash dishes, catch up on emails, etc. But once when baby woke up, I found myself even more exhausted. Realistically, most of the things I did when my baby was sleeping could have waited for later when she was content and playing on the floor. I needed sleep and I definitely should have taken advantage of the time she was sleeping. Let your brain take a break for a while and use that time when baby is sleeping to catch up on sleep for yourself too.
Sleep deprivation can get the best of you. It’s exhausting to be a new mom. And you never really truly know the depths of lack of sleep until you live through those newborn days with your brand new blessing. Use these tips to help get your sleep back on track so you and your baby can spend many more awake and happy magical moments together.