One of the well-known and least-loved parts of being a new parent is sleep deprivation. It's hard to calm yourself before bed and sleep through the night when you have a newborn who needs feeding.
Signs of sleep deprivation in new mums
Mothers often underestimate the importance of good sleep and shrug it off. However, sleep deprivation can have several unwanted and unpleasant consequences for your health and your family. Here are some signs of extreme sleep deprivation that you need to look out for:
- You are falling asleep anywhere and everywhere.
- Simple things are getting hard to remember, and you leave your cellphone in weird places.
- You feel and look tired throughout the day and feel irritable.
- Starving yourself has become a part of the new lifestyle because most of your time is spent between taking care of your baby or trying to sleep.
- Fighting and arguing with your partner over trivial matters is a common occurrence.
Ways to improve sleep for mums
Caring for the new baby and family is no easy task. However, to make sure that you do not put yourself and the baby in danger due to sleep deprivation and related accidents, here are some tips to improve your sleep:
- Talk about your need for sleep: Before you bring your new baby home, discuss your need for sleep with your partner. How well do you handle long nights? When do you want your partner to step in? If possible, discuss if you can get a night nurse or babysitter to make it easier for everyone.
- Don’t take on added responsibilities: It is easy to fall into a guilt trip when you cannot spend as much time with your older children. But think twice before taking on added responsibilities like going on a trip with your older child or baking a bunch of cupcakes for the class party. Any added responsibilities with a newborn will only make you tired, frustrated and affect your postpartum mood.
- Sync your sleeping pattern: A key to staving off sleep deprivation, as an experienced baby nurse will tell you, is to sync your sleep schedule with that of the baby. By sleeping when your baby sleeps, your health and mood will improve significantly. Do not use this precious time to clean your house, or make phone calls. Everything else can wait.
- Ask for and accept help: Ask for and accept any help that you can get. Be it from family members, friends or even the babysitter, accept help and get a few hours of the much-needed sleep. An environment that is cool and dark will make it easier for you to fall asleep.
- Do not ignore the “Baby Blues”: Mood changes are a common sign of sleep deprivation. New mums can also be at high risk for postpartum depression or baby blues. If you feel down, it is important to discuss this with your medical provider or doctor.
- Keep your eye on the prize: Babies cry quite often during the first few weeks or nights. It is usually due to the growing pains and adjustments the baby is going through. If you’re feeling concerned, talk to a pediatrician to rule out any acid reflux issues. Remember that as your baby grows, the sleep schedule will improve, and you will be able to sleep a lot better.