As a new parent, chances are that your sleeping patterns and habits are going to be all over the place. And to be honest, you might find that no matter how old your child gets, you never sleep like how you used to sleep before becoming a parent.
So how to cope?
In the early weeks and sometimes months of having a baby, you’ll be living on less sleep than normally recommended, so it is all about preparing for this and making sure that you make the right choices to help you get through the day!
Here we have a few top tips to help you out during this very tricky and tiring time…
Think like a baby
No matter how tired you are or how many times your baby has got you up already, remember that babies are programmed to wake during the night for a feed. Typically, in these early stages, babies go through the feed and sleep routine in a 45 minute cycle, so be sure not to lose your temper or get cross with your baby, he is only doing what he is programmed to do! Also, babies like to be close to their primary caregiver (YOU!) and will cry as a defence mechanism to get you back.
The very first step of understanding parenting is to realise that sleepless nights and a crying, dependent baby is totally normal behaviour!
Ignore the boasters
When you are pregnant, you’ll find that everyone will be quick to give you advice and this doesn’t stop after the baby arrives. Ignore any friends who brag or boast about how their baby sleeps / slept through the night from birth – you really don’t need that kind of influence I your life! It’ll only make you feel jealous and maybe even resentful. Ignore it best you can, or if it is bothering you that much, be sure to speak up and ask them to stop, as it really isn’t helping.
Think about what you are eating
It is important to eat well, especially if you are breast feeding, but equally if you are not – you still need to feed your body, but not with the wrong things! Try and avoid chocolates, coffee and biscuits as a diet staple, as these will give you a sugar and caffeine rush that will make you feel great to start with but much worse when the rush dies off and the sugar and caffeine crash starts. Instead, try and eat sturdy meals with carbohydrates, protein and large helpings of veg.
One of the best things you can do is to prepare some frozen dinners whilst you are still pregnant that you can whip out ready to eat later – home cooked favourites like spaghetti bolognese will help you through.
Embrace the nap
Let’s face it, as an adult, there is something about a daytime nap that is brilliant! Once your baby has arrived, you have the perfect excuse for as many daytime naps as you want, baby allowing! Once your baby has settled for a while, get cosy on the sofa with a blanket and drift off too. Naps are perfect for recharging batteries and will help you cope with the sleep deprivation. Avoid going back to bed though as this may send you into a deeper sleep that will make you feel ten times worse when you are woken from it. Sometimes though, it will not be possible to sleep when your baby sleeps; you might be at the supermarket, or need to get on with some urgent house work, but just remember to take some time for yourself in the evenings when you have more help available.
Stock up on bubble bath and take yourself off for a baby free bath.
Above all, just remember…
This doesn’t last forever! Your baby will soon establish a routine and so will you. Even those that brag about their babies being good sleepers might find out how hard it really is if their child experiences sleep regression as he gets older. (No one totally gets away with it!)
It’s all worth it in the end, you might even find as your baby gets older that you miss those 2am feeds…*maybe*