Bringing your new baby home from the hospital means one thing for sure: sleep deprivation. For the first month or two of their lives, your newborn will need to eat every three to four hours or so – meaning that you’ll be getting your fair share of middle-of-the-night wakeup calls. Surviving those initial months with a newborn requires strategic napping, guiltlessly avoiding social engagements and calling for backup when necessary.
Even if you’ve spent weeks decorating baby’s nursery with a
special theme, the walk to and from his room can feel entirely too long when
you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a month. To help you work through those
early middle-of-the night feedings, the American Academy of Pediatricians
recommends that you keep baby’s crib or bassinet in your own bedroom, at least
for the first few weeks. To prevent suffocation, no matter how tired you are,
never allow your baby to sleep with you in your own bed or with soft, cushy
blankets or pillows.
Naps are Necessary
Yes, it can be difficult to ignore piles of dirty laundry in the
bedroom and stacks of kitchen dishes in the sink. While you may be tempted to
work on household chores while your baby is napping, don’t. The Mayo Clinic
recommends that you let sleeping chores lie and instead take advantage of your
baby’s nap schedule by sleeping when she sleeps, no matter what time of day it
is. To ensure that your nap isn’t uninterrupted, send out a text to let
everyone know you’ll be unavailable for the next few hours, then silence your
phone. Keep the lights low, turn off the TV and rest.
Double Diaper Duty
As a new mom, you may feel the need to “do it all,” especially
if you’re breastfeeding or if your partner has returned to work. However, all
work and no rest is a sure-fire recipe for burnout. Talk to your partner about
splitting up nighttime feeding and diaper-changing duties. The Mayo Clinic says
that if you’re nursing, you can ask your partner to bring the baby to you; if
you’re bottle-feeding, take turns feeding the baby. If your partner is at work
part of the day, ask if he can relieve you for an hour or two so that you can
catch up on a few hours sleep.
If you’re lucky enough to live close to family or friends who
have offered to help, take them up on it. If they stop over to visit, ask them
if they could watch your baby while you catch up on some shut-eye. Don’t feel
guilty about saying no to social engagements, and don’t volunteer for
additional responsibilities when you have a newborn at home. If you start to
feel depressed or anxious because of lack of sleep, of if you’re having trouble
falling asleep, talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying health concerns.