Getting the rest you need with a newborn in the house may seem like a fantasy. Especially since the average parent loses six weeks of sleep within their first year, it’s no surprise that you will do anything and everything to get one more minute of shut-eye.
Sometimes it seems like your baby needs attention just when you are ready to pass out and that you will never feel rested again.
It can be difficult to adjust your schedule to your newborn, but there are a few things that you can do to maximize your resting time, so you aren’t quite as worn out.
Take Advantage of Downtime
Many new moms use the time that their newborns are napping to get chores done around the house. Instead of running yourself ragged, use this time to take a nap yourself. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by trying to do it all by yourself so don’t feel guilty for asking for help from eager friends and family that are dying to hold that cute baby of yours.
If you can’t sleep or you are worried about not hearing your baby, focus on relaxing activities that don’t require a lot of energy. Ask for help getting those much-needed chores done around the house. You can’t take care of anyone else if you’re suffering from sleep deprivation.
It’s OK to ask for help
When family comes over to visit, consider asking them to take care of the baby for a little while so you can nap. That way, you don’t have to worry about your baby while you nap and you are still close by if your family member needs help or you need to feed your baby.
One mom recently shared with me the ultimate newborn parenting hack, and I’m kicking myself for not knowing about it when I was in the trenches with my non-sleeping daughter! Keep a list of items you need that need to be done around the house (i.e., clean bottles, change laundry, etc.) on the fridge so when someone asks how they can help; you can just act appreciative and point them in the direction of the list. Since it’s always so awkward to ask for help or spur of the moment come up with a task list, this is a non-confrontational and non-icky way to finally get help!!!
Utilize the Crib
You may find it tempting to practice co-sleeping, regardless if you had any pre-conceived notions if you would or not. Being in bed with your baby appears to be advantageous especially if you are up with your baby to nurse several times in the night. The problem with this solution is that you aren’t getting restful sleep.
I know that when I brought my baby to bed, nobody had a good night sleep. Your body can’t fully relax if you’re worried about where your baby is sleeping, and you may end up in an uncomfortable position. If you don’t enter the deep sleep stages, you will wake up not feeling fully refreshed – that’s why having your baby in their own safe sleeping space can help promote a healthy boundary to get more sleep.
Keep your baby in your room but their own space
If your baby is a newborn, you are probably following the AAP recommendations to keep your baby in your room for the first 6 months. If so, you can consider room sharing with a dedicated space for you and your baby. This Halo arms reach bassinette would be my choice if I could do it again since I remember my back breaking trying to get my baby back in the pack n play. And no mom (with a newborn baby) has time for a sore back.
Keep your baby in their room
To promote the best baby sleep environment, keep the room at a cool temperature (68-72 degrees). Make sure you use blackout shades to create a dark space (these are the most economical blackout shades I recommend) and use white noise to mimic the sounds in the womb (by using a white noise machine like this). Oh, and always use a video monitor so you can keep an eye on your dozing baby.
Consider Your Sleep Situation
In addition to dealing with your newborn, you should make sure that your sleeping habits are allowing you to maximize the sleep that you do get. Going in and out of sleep in between REM cycles makes you feel more groggy than restful. If your sleep isn’t relaxing, you are going to be worse off than you would be if you only got a little good sleep – which defeats the purpose of obtaining sleep in the first place!
It matters where you sleep
According to Purple Mattress, if you are sleeping on your back, you want your spine to be curved naturally. If you sleep on your side, you want your spine to be straight. These positions will eliminate strain on your back and help you sleep much better.
No electronics before bed
You should also avoid using electronics right before you go to sleep, as the blue light from devices mimic daylight and have been shown to wake your brain up – which is a massive no-no before bed. Start a great habit and read a book for 30 minutes vs. search Facebook (again!)
It’s always a struggle to adjust to a newborn, especially since you have to be on their schedule. You can’t control how your baby sleeps (yet), but you can find a way to work around it, so you stay healthy.