Getting good sleep needs to be one of your main priorities!
You simply cannot be healthy and heal without sufficient sleep.
A well-functioning immune system depends on good sleep. So does your milk supply, if you are nursing.
Fatigue also puts you at greater risk for postpartum mood disorders.
Take care to get the sleep your body needs. Everything else you do to be healthy can quickly be sabotaged if you are sleep-deprived.
Sleep Hacks #1 – Adjust Your Expectations
As mentioned before, this is a temporary season.
It is vital that you try to adapt to your current situation and learn to let things go!
There are no household tasks that are more important than your health and recovery.
If you are a control freak (like I was) then make sure that you plan enough help when creating your postpartum plan.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you will just “wing it” or that people will magically appear out of the woodwork to help you out. You could be setting yourself up for major disappointment!
Try to delegate household tasks such as laundry and meals.
This means you will need to reach out for help. If there is nobody around to help you, try to let those things go.
Give yourself permission to rest during the day and let the dishes (and emails) pile up, if necessary.
Since you are waking often to feed your newborn, you will need to get the extra zzzz’s during the day.
When people come over to visit, they will (hopefully) notice your pile of dishes and offer to lend a hand in the kitchen!
If not, learn to ask for help.
Only accept visitors who are willing to pitch in!
Speaking of visitors… feel free to share this post with your potential guests when they ask to come see the baby!
These 25 Rules for Visiting a Newborn can be eye-openers for some and oh, so helpful for you!!
Sleep Hacks #2- “The Go-Back-to-Sleep Trick”
Here is a sleep tip for you…. what was your pre-pregnancy sleep requirement? 8 hours? 9 hours?
Whatever that ideal sleep quota was, make that your sleep goal now.
You may need to adjust that time to get a bit more sleep during this time of healing, but your pre-pregnancy sleep quota is a great place to start.
As you wake to feed your baby during the night, keep track of how many total hours you have slept so far.
Keep going back to bed in the morning, until you have reached that sleep goal.
It may take until noon before you get enough sleep, but that’s OK!
Once you have reached your sleep goal for the night, shower and get ready for your day.
If you have other children who need care in the early morning hours, this is a great time to hire a sitter or ask grandma to come and hang out with the kiddos while you get more sleep.
This is something you can add to your postpartum plan too.
Sleep Hacks #3- Shift Sleeping
Here’s another great sleep tip… try taking shifts!
Ask Dad (or anyone willing to help) to take one of the late night feedings so you can get a longer stretch of sleep. (You can usually find someone who is a night owl who would be willing to help you out here.)
If you are breastfeeding, pump enough for one feeding during the day, then after the evening feeding, go to bed early. (If you are a night owl and Dad isn’t, the reverse will also work.)
For example, let’s say that your baby nurses around 8pm. After this feeding, you would head to bed around 9pm or so.
Dad would be “on duty” for the next several hours soothing the baby if needed. He would also offer the next feeding around 11pm.
Meanwhile, you will get a good chunk of sleep and wake to feed the baby again at the next feeding around 2am.
This scenario would allow you to sleep from 9pm until 2am. That’s 5 hours!
Some moms worry that this would negatively affect their milk supply to go this long without nursing or pumping, but it is my personal belief that lack of sleep is more detrimental to milk supply than missing a feeding.
If your body wakes you early to pump or nurse, at least you won’t feel as groggy!
When Dad goes to bed around midnight, he will get a chance to get his chunk of sleep next.
Feel free to adjust this system to meet your needs, but many parents find this a sanity-saving tip!
Combining these hacks together will help assure that both mom and dad get the rest they need!
Sleep Hacks #4 – Co-Sleeping
If you find that no matter what you do, sleep still alludes you, then consider co-sleeping.
Co-sleeping isn’t for everyone!
Some women find the thought of co-sleeping to be too anxiety-producing. If this is you, then don’t give it another thought.
But if you find that you are already bringing your baby into your bed at night or napping with your baby in order to get rest, then take the time to educate yourself about safe sleep practices.
After much difficulty managing our sleep with our first baby, my husband and I eventually began the practice of co-sleeping.
It was so nice for me to just snuggle and nurse without having to get out of bed.
We all slept so much better and I actually woke up feeling like a real person!
This decision was one of the best decisions we personally made to help solve our postpartum sleep problems.
There are many variations to co-sleeping, so you can easily modify and adapt to suit your needs. right next to you in bed, there are also great co-sleepers you can buy that provide your baby with her own sleep space nearby.
Check out my favorite co-sleeper The SnuzPod here!
My favorite book on the subject of infant sleep, including co-sleeping, is a fantastic book by Dr. Sears called The Baby Sleep Book.
I highly recommend it! The authors discuss the many benefits of co-sleeping along with practical and safe sleep tips to ensure a safe, restful night’s sleep for everyone.
If co-sleeping interests you, then take the time to read up on the pros and cons before you take the plunge.
This is a controversial subject that can often stir up strong opinions. Whatever you decide about sleeping, remember, it needs to be YOUR decision and you need to feel comfortable with that decision.
That being said, the American Academy of Pediatrics DOES recommend that babies sleep in the same room with mom (however, not the same bed) to lower the risk of SIDS.
If you choose to bed-share with your baby, it needs to be a decision that you feel good about.
You can read the American Academy of Pediatrics’ official Infant Sleep Safety guidelines for more information.
Some of my favorite books on infant sleep:
30 Easy Sleep Hacks for New Parents
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The author of this blog post, Karen Kostohris, has even MORE sleep hacks for new parents and newborns in her book, 30 Sleep Hacks for New Parents: A Sleep Survival Guide for Parents of Newborns.
You can download a copy here.
This is NOT your average book on baby sleep, but an easy step-by-step, hands-on survival guide for new parents!
She teaches new parents strategies to maximize their sleep during the postpartum period.
She has compiled all her favorite doula tips and sleep hacks into a very practical and useful book on sleep for new parents.