There is no denying that pregnancy and childbirth are both extremely taxing events that happen to both the mother and the father. Obviously, the woman takes the brunt of the pain, but any supportive spouse would also feel exhaustion in the aftermath of such an exhilarating experience.
However, for many parents having the baby is the easy part of this whole parenting process. Because afterward, you have the daunting task of bringing this little terror…er, bundle of joy home. From there, you have to keep it happy, healthy, and not to mention–alive.
Taking on such a life-changing burden, a harsh but true word, is a lot for any adult to handle, no matter how prepared they believed they are. Having a child welcomes a lot of new stresses and challenges into your life that you have never encountered before.
On top of that, there’s the whole sleep situation. With a child crying every few hours to be fed, burped, or reassured that it was just a nasty nightmare, your beauty rest begins to take a backseat.
The Importance of Sleep
As inevitable as cutting sleep out of your schedule may seem, it is a dangerous road to go down. Losing sleep is not good for your body because your whole system depends on rest time for many pivotal functions to transpire. Depriving yourself of sleep, can lead to an array of side effects that include:
- Digestive Issues
- Hormone Imbalances
- Mood Swings
- Lack of Appetite
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Increased Risk of Accidents
Denying yourself of sleep means that you are not creating the best version of yourself. That is the person that your child deserves to have as a parent. If you are always run-down and depleted of energy and quick thinking skills, then you are doing a disservice to the ones you love.
It’s highly suggested that adults get approximately eight hours of sleep a day in order to achieve optimal health. That number is almost unattainable for anyone without a baby. Eight hours is pretty much obsolete for any parent of a newborn, especially nervous first-timers.
That is why as a parent, you need to get as much sleep as you can as often as you can get it. Here are some tips to help find some sleep during the early stages of your newborn’s life:
1. Move On From Your TV Shows
You probably figured that you could just put the baby down for a nap and then sneak in a few episodes of a show that you would otherwise binge-watch. However, that is not the case.
Sure, when downtime becomes readily available, your gut tells you to give yourself a little treat. Sitting down and watching something that doesn’t contain singing puppets seems like a reward for being such a patient parent.
In the case of sleep deprivation, catch up later. Take downtime as sleep time. That’s the beauty of TV this day and age. You can either DVR it or stream it through an app. There’s no sense of urgency to catch all your favorite shows. When things slow down in your household, you will find that you have more free time on your hands. Then get a few binge-marathons on.
2. Breastfeed Horizontally
When feeding their child, many tend to cradle the baby and hold the bottle to their lips while slightly rocking the child with their under forearm. It’s a nice, soothing feeling for the baby. But, it is requiring more work out of the parent.
If you are breastfeeding your child, try laying down with them. While on your back, close your eyes and try to catch some shut-eye. There’s a very good chance that the baby will pass out as well.
A couple of things to keep in mind if this becomes a feeding-method of choice, first and foremost weaning may be an issue. If you predominantly feed your child laying down, they may correlate feeding time with sleeping time. Therefore, it may be harder to break the cycle.
Secondly, if your child suffers from reflux, this may not be an ideal feeding method for someone trying to nab more sleep time. The chances you are going to need to burp your newborn dramatically increase with horizontal breastfeeding.
3. Sleep When the Baby Is Sleeping
This may seem like a no-brainer, but many parents feel the pressure to get everything they’ve been putting off done while the baby sleeps. This sounds great at first, but when you keep putting off sleep, you put yourself and child at risk for scenarios like falling asleep at the wheel. If your child is taking multiple naps a day, take a few of them yourself. You will undoubtedly find time to mop the floor at another point.
4. Learn How to Co-Parent
It takes two to tango. If one parent is getting up more than other, you need to open that line of communication immediately. Mothers shouldn’t bear the burden each time, even if they breastfeed. There is nothing wrong pumping ahead of time and having your spouse take on feeding duties.
As we mentioned, be sure to communicate. You should be able to figure out how many times and at which hours your baby gets up. Discuss beforehand who should take which shift. Waking up in the middle of the night to fight it out will do no favors for either parent trying to get additional sleep.
5. Hit the Road
Grab your “Baby on Board” sticker and toddler, and get to the pavement.
Take your child out of their element. Bring them to your parents or even spend a night in a hotel. It may sound a bit out-of-the-box, but it can give the other parent a much needed rest. Then they can one day reciprocate for you. Alternate doing this a couple times each month. Just one solid night’s rest will do wonders for a parent.
6. Let Others Help You
As a parent, you sometimes feel the pressure to do it all. So, if someone offers to take your child, by all means, hand them off. That is, of course, as long as you know the person who is taking them.
Relatives and friends alike love newborn babies. Plus, they love you and want the best for you. Even if they offer to take your baby for a stroll in a park, ask if they mind if you stay behind and catch some rest. There’s nothing wrong with accepting help. No parent should ever feel too proud for lent hand.
7. Let Them Cry It Out
You are going to feel horrible, but sometimes you need to ignore the cries. As a parent, you learn your baby in and out. Trust your gut. You will know by the pitch, the ferociousness, and the longevity if these cries are an emergency or not.
The question here lies, are you training your child or is your child training you? If you coddle their every middle of the night cry, it will become ingrained in the baby’s mind that this will get your attention every time. In reality, they are training you.
However, if they learn that every time they cry doesn’t elicit a reaction, they will eventually learn how to work it out. The simple answer they will find is to go back to sleep. The sooner baby gets back to sleep, the sooner the parents do.