The lack of sleep that you experience when you have a newborn baby is something which you cannot prepare for. No matter how much people try and prepare you for the lack of sleep, until you experience having a newborn then you will not understand. I actually read somewhere online that the average parent looses 6 months worth of sleep in the first 24 months of their baby’s life, which I just think is crazy. Like actually 6 months?!
We have been really lucky with Molly because she has pretty much slept through the night since she was about 9 weeks old. I was amazed at this because her older brother did not once sleep through the night until he was well over a year old, so I was fully expecting to have a similar issue with her. In all honesty, I was really glad that she slept through from so early because as I returned to work when she was just 10 weeks old, the lack of sleep was something which I was dreading.
When you’ve just had a newborn the sleepless nights can feel like they are never going to end, especially if you have a baby who is terrible for waking up in the night, or gets to become a night owl because they can’t distinguish between day and night, or they have reflux like Georgie did and wake up a million times a night gagging on their own stomach acid! But, fear not because the sleepless nights do come to an end.. eventually.. and in the meantime, I’ve compiled a list of a few things which you can do to make life more bearable.
- Talk to other parents
At the time, it can feel like you’re probably the only person in the world who has a baby who isn’t sleeping; but I can honestly tell you that this is not true. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Sleepless nights can feel so lonely, and being able to connect with other parents can make the whole newborn journey much easier. I have spoken to many-a-parent who is up in the middle of the night, and sometimes it’s nice just to be able to share stories, exchange idea’s or generally chit-chat to take your mind of the lack of sleep.
- Talk to your midwife or health visitor
The first few weeks after your baby is born, there is a lot of focus on sleep and sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is a funny thing, because aside from being incredibly tired it can also make you more emotional, unable to concentrate or make decisions and even make you hungry! Your midwife or health visitor will probably ask you a lot of questions about how you’re sleeping, and how your baby is sleeping, so speak to them if you’re struggling. They can often give you really useful tips and tricks to help when you’re struggling, and will just reassure you that you’re not alone.
- Eat healthy and drink plenty
When you have a newborn it’s so easy to forget to take care of yourself. You can get so caught up in the crazy world of having a newborn, eating and drinking goes to the bottom of the list and this can have a real impact on you. It’s so easy to reach into the cupboard and grab a snack, but it’s important to eat healthily to keep your energy levels up. A chocolate bar will provide you with a quick burst of energy, but a proper meal will boost your energy over a period of time. Also, drinking is important for keeping energy levels up as well (and staying hydrated!) so the suggested fluid intake is 6-8 glasses of water per day.
- Sleep when your baby is sleeping
This is the best advice which anyone has ever given me! Use the time when your baby is sleeping to enjoy some rest as well, even if you just put your feet up and have something to eat or watch something on TV (Netflix became my best friend!) Take the support from family or friends, and remember that the cleaning can always wait! I remember wanting to do everything when I became a mum, because I didn’t want people to think I was struggling with feeling tired and that I couldn’t keep on top of my housework as well, but honestly.. this one time my Mum persuaded me to go to bed and it was the best thing. I woke up feeling so much better and ready to tackle the day ahead!
- Slow down and relax..
You’re going to feel tired, and the world of having a newborn baby is crazy, chaotic madness. Your baby is probably taking most of your attention, and rightly so but just remember you’re not supermum! No one expects you to be able to do everything so just take it easy; ask your family to help with the housework, order your food shop online or ask your neighbour to walk the dog.. whatever you need to do but just don’t expect to be able to do everything.
- Remember, it’s okay to ask for help if you’re struggling!
I wish someone had sat me down and said this to me when I had a newborn. I was honestly so scared of asking for help for fear of being judged, or people thinking I couldn’t cope. Having a newborn is hard work, and when you think about the amount of sleep that you lose as a new parent it’s not a surprise that people struggle. In fact 1 in 5 parents struggle with mental health up to the first year after having a baby, so don’t ignore the signs and seek support if you’re struggling!
Have you got any tips for dealing with the sleepless nights? What got you through those early days of having a newborn and dealing with sleep deprivation? Feel free to share your ideas/experiences below in the comments, or send us an email from our contact page – we love hearing from you!