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How will I cope with the tiredness?(22 Posts)
We're due our first baby at the start of October and I can't wait to meet her!
I'm feeling pretty apprehensive though about what it's going to mean from a sleep point of view. I don't function very well without much sleep and I know that a new born is going to make the night a tricky time for a while (especially as I'm hoping to breastfeed so will be doing the feeding by myself for a while probably). What effect does it have on you in the day time?
Does anyone have any words of advice or reassurance for me?! How did you cope with the change? Is there much that partners can do to take off the pressure in those first few weeks?
Best bit of advice I can give, is nap in the daytime while your baby sleeps. Its tempting to clean the house or get on with bits and bobs, but partners can do that.
The first few weeks are not easy in terms of getting used to being woken in the night.......but you do get used to it!
This is why you have maternity leave!! Yes it is very tiring caring for a newborn so you have to take it easy, get to bed early, try to rest in the daytime etc. And a couple of times a week your partner can do so e of the night parenting so you get a bit more sleep.
There is lots partners can do. Taking two weeks paternity leave is the biggest one. Although you will be doing all the feeding, you can pass your well fed baby over to your husband and then go and sleep until the next feed. He can take over more household tasks at this time too. If it is 4am and you have just finished an hour long feed and your baby is wide awake, dad and baby can go downstairs for a bit so you can go back to sleep. Taking a week annual leave when your baby is 6-8 weeks old is helpful to as by that point the tiredness might be getting you down.
I have a 5 month old baby that doesn't sleep well. And I need my sleep! Somehow I cope. It helps a huge amount that I'm not working, and my pace of life has changed.
There is lots people can do to help. If you have anyone else around like a mum or sister it's worth getting them to come round lots too, or stay for long periods of time if they can, to help you and your partner, or (particularly) for when your partner's paternity leave ends. As time went on, me and my boyfriend used to split the night, so he would stay up with baby if needed till 2/3am (just waking me for feeds) and I would take the lead from 3am till the morning.
Extra beds are helpful, or making your bed bigger if you can (mattresses on the floor, cot attached to the bed). We all slept together, with baby on my side,and it was cuddly and lovely, it helped that boyfriend was a deep sleeper. Sometimes I would go and get a few hours sleep in the other room.
It's not true that a partner has to take over the night feeds to be helpful either. Babies don't only need feeding in the night, they need cuddling, rocking, nappy changing, etc, and someone else can do all this even if you are breastfeeding. Some nights my mum would sleep with the baby in another room and just bring her to me every couple of hours for a feed and take her straight back afterwards to wind, settle, cuddle back to sleep. I was very well rested with this and got lots of strength back.
If you are breastfeeding it's great if you can learn to do it lying down; you can then make your bed a safe co-sleeping space and both doze through it. But trying new positions can be tricky at first so you may just need to be propped up with lots of pillows initially.
Day time naps when baby sleeps or when someone else is holding baby are good. Eat and drink plenty Even if you're not sleeping, babies mostly just want to be held so if you're shattered cuddle up on the sofa together with good films or books.
I also found I slept better whilst breastfeeding than I had in years despite the regular interruptions - it's a natural sedative for you and baby - don't know if everyone experiences that. I was a terrible insomniac until I had a baby, now I sleep really well. My experience was that sleep with a newborn was MUCH better than sleep when heavily pregnant! Going back to work with a baby - now that's another story - but mat leave is great
Oh and babies do sleep sometimes, so you never know! Mine was a fantastic sleeper between months 2 and 4… 10 hours straight a night, I started jogging in the mornings I felt so great! (It didn't last, the running or the good sleep, but it was a good time )
I would recommend looking in to co-sleeping from a personal point of view. I BF DS and as I'm sure you are aware they feed so much in the early days that by the time I settled him in his moses basket (which he really didn't like) it was time to feed him again.
DH had to go away when DS was 3 weeks old (he's in the forces) so I was on my own with little help so I decided to co-sleep, it was my best decision! I know not every one is comfortable with it and it's not for everyone but we both loved it. DS just helped himself during the night and although you are aware of them feeding you don't have to really wake up. Done safely co-sleeping is safe for you both.
I am now expecting DC2 and I'm planning on co-sleeping again, this time I'm going to hire an NCT Bednest so that it makes it a bit easier (just because DH will be here this time so less space in the bed) but luckily we do have a spare room with a double bed so if needs be DH can move to there!
Congratulations and good luck it's such an exciting time
My advice isn't really practical, it's emotional.
Firstly, let go of the idea of how much sleep you 'need'. I was like you, very fond of my sleep. Very focused on my 8 hours before I had kids. You will feel worse, much worse, if you have this mindset and continue it into children. Try to just go with the flow, not constantly calculate how many hours you got last night, etc. Sometimes you will be less tired than the calculation would suggest, probably sometimes you will be more. Let how you feel guide your plans for the day.
Secondly, don't focus obsessively on how long it will be until they sleep through. I did with DD1 and it grinds you down. If you'd told me then that DD2 would be nearly 2 before she slept through the night I would have broken down, but actually it was fine, I was fine. You adjust.
Thirdly, be prepared that baby sleep is not linear. You (by which I mean me!) have this idea before babies that their sleep will start off a certain way and gradually get better. That isn't necessarily the case. For example, many babies who sleep through the night early on suddenly stop (in some cases for months). This is less depressing if you are aware it may be a risk!
And, erm, it really probably isn't the "first few weeks" you will need to adjust your sleep. In most cases it is at least the first few months. Then there is teething, illness, nightmares, lost teddys, bright mornings.... None of this is dreadful. Honestly, you get a new normal. Also, many baby books say that babies can often sleep through the night by six months. It is only much later that you often notice that the book is phrased very carefully (can is different from will!!). But it is why I think an emotional adjustment can be very helpful.
Great advice from Penguins - I completely agree.
I would also suggest getting rid of clocks or not checking clocks for things like feeds or sleep in the early days. Things just take as long as they take and totting it up is not helpful.
We have had both a wonderfully sleeping baby and a terribly sleeping baby but they were both my baby and 100% worth it.
You just do. There is no choice. I love sleep! It is my favourite activity. I did not get a sleeping baby with DD.
She had silent reflux and screamed all day. She averaged 40 minute sleep approx every 8 hours. I totally understand why the CIA use sleep deprivation as torture! But, we sorted out her meds and she began to sleep.
You will cope. Humans are adaptable. I'm due DC2 in Aug...
I recommend co-sleeping. We did it because I thought there was a real risk of falling asleep with DD in an unplanned manner and that planned co-sleeping was safer.
My mum said something to me when DS was tiny that made me want to punch her at the time, but was actually really helpful.
She told me that whilst being really tired can make you feel terrible, I would survive and get through the day. She was right.
I also second what others have said about the 'new normal'. You just get used to it, and the hormones can really help!
Try to keep your strength up (I recommend cake!) and accept help when it's offered.
You will be fine, really, but I can so relate to your anxiety. I remember almost weeping when I found out how often babies actually feed in the early days!
I had a lady book me for 1 night a wk when she was 24wks pregnant to start when baby was 2wks old as she was very much like you and knew she could get through a wk knowing a fri she could sleep all night.
Anyway baby arrived early over Xmas period they kept my start date the same so he was 4wks it hadn't been as bad as she expected h e had gotten into a good routine so instead I did 3 fri in a row 8-8 they went out had a drink had a lie in n then booked a couple more ad hoc nights when he was a little older for the same.
She has since had a second and didn't feel need to book a night nanny.
Thanks ladies. All very helpful advice and common sense :-)
I'd never really given the co-sleeping idea much thought really- this may sound like a fairly stupid question but isn't there a risk you might roll over and squash the baby (probably showing my lack of understanding about how it works there!)?! Also, do they keep you awake with all their snuffly squeaks?
best advice I can give - get your partner on board. If you are planning to bf - then that's what you do and he does everything else. Everything. DH did all the cleaning, shopping, cooking, every day before he left for work he made me lunch and made sure I had drinks, snacks etc close to hand. I didn't do anything bar feed the baby and sleep. I could not have done it without him. And I had a good sleeper! (we didn't co sleep as DD born in the depths of a snowy winter and we sleep with a 13 tog duvet for most of the year, plus several blankets and a cat. No thanks!)
Hevava, I was just the same as you sleep wise, and the reality is much better than what I feared. I napped when he did, every time. Even at 9am. It was ace!
Someone on MN told me that down the line I will miss the times with DS in the darkest parts of the night once they have gone. Bizarrely it is true, he is sleeping much longer these days, and I do feel a sort of loss.
Re cosleeping, I thought it was a hippy thing to do. Then I started doing it. Works brilliantly for us, though I start DS off in a cot. Even when I have been utterly exhausted I have never come close to squishing him. You just know instinctively where they are, and it is lovely when they cuddle up to you. That said, I would never do it after even one drink, just in case. Feeding lying down is a lifesaver too.
We had a "side-car" cot arrangement with DD's cot attached to our bed, so she had her own space. That said, she spent the first two weeks sleeping on my chest as it was the only place she would sleep and after that she often slept with her head on my arm, which was a good way to keep her safe as I couldn't roll onto her.
Much of the risk is about smothering with the duvet, so we swapped to sheets and they were around my waist and I wore PJ tops to keep me warm instead. DD was in a grobag, well away from the sheets.
She always stayed on the side away from DH as I think there might be more of a risk of being rolled on by the father than the mother.
She didn't keep us awake until she started being able to turn around and kick me, but some friends have moved their DC out of their room after about a week because they were too noisy. That isn't really recommended, I think.
I co slept with my son for exactly that reason he would wake me up constantly otherwise, there are fors and against co sleeping but it's personal choice, I'll be purchasing one of the side cots for this baby and see how that works xx
Anecdotally, I have heard a lot of mums say on here that combination feeding - in other words breastfeeding 90% of the time and then giving a formula bottle at night helped with sleep enormously. Babies tend to sleep for longer stretches with formula as its heavier, and of course it means that DH can do it whilst you're sleeping. You'll still have to do some breastfeeding during the night, but it may mean you get 6 hours uninterrupted sleep a night which could be a lifesaver. Alternatively DH could do the first morning feed if he's going to be up super early for work anyway.
I co-slept from day one because my mates warned me about babies you can't put down, and crying with tiredness sitting up on sofas all night then co-sleeping anyway and feeling guilty about it. So I thought I'd just skip the tiredness/guilt bit... Co-sleeping with a newborn is really lovely I think, especially when you are so tired and sore from birth and don't want to get up in the night.
We moved baby to a moses basket next to the bed at around 6 weeks as she started sleeping such long periods (EBF babies can do this too, sometimes!), then to a cot with a side taken off next to the bed (kind of like a cheaper cosleeper cot) at around 5 months. She went to her own room at 8 months because I couldn't sleep through the shuffling around, but for some time she would come back and sleep with us for the second half of the night. It was nice to have that first half in peace, though!
It is true you don't sleep deeply when initially co-sleeping with a tiny baby as you are very aware of them - but I think this is true wherever the baby sleeps - as a new mum you are very aware of where they are / whether they are awake. I would wake up when she did even if she was in another room with my mum, in the early days.
AnnaRose - I think it's your second point that actually makes the big difference: getting someone else to share the burden. AFAIK studies suggest that the formula itself doesn't get you more sleep. Getting someone else to give a bottle, whatever is in it, should though.
Honestly you get a new normal
There are times when you don't cope with the lack of sleep and times when you do it very well.
Sleeping when the baby is sleeping is not as easy as it sounds. I rarely managed it but I did used to make sure I put my feet up for a while everyday.
Oh, another slightly leftfield thought, you might want to read What Mothers Do by Naomi Stadlen. It helps you understand why you might feel your day has been busy and exhausting when you can't say "I did X"
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