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Ok, those who have already done it, just how bad are the sleepless nights in the early days?

(75 Posts)
dontcarehow Thu 08-Nov-12 10:37:27

I'm starting to get fed up with the comments about how we should be enjoying sleep now because we won't get any AT ALL once the baby is here. Obviously I know that babies are awake in the night quite a lot, and it'll be hard work but seriously, they can't be awake literally all the time can they? I know its a stupid thing to ask but are people just exaggerating when they say you won't sleep at all? I mean they must be getting a couple of hours at least.

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Thu 08-Nov-12 11:01:36

Depends on your baby, your set-up and how you're feeding them.

DS was early, tiny and couldn't suckle properly so I chose to express and then syringe/bottle feed him. He needed feeding every 3 hours or his blood sugars crashed but he was very, very sleepy and wouldn't wake up properly to feed. So expressing enough for him took an hour, then I made up the syringe/bottle, then fed him, then changed him and settled him, then washed up and ran the steriliser ready to express again, all of which took another hour. Then I'd sleep for an hour and repeat. Hard, hard work and I was like a ghost.

DD was 2 weeks late and an 8lber. She's only a week old today but so far she wakes herself up every 3-4 hours when she wants feeding, it takes about 30 mins to feed her, burp her and change her nappy and then she looks around for a bit before dropping back off to sleep. I feel fine and am finding it an absolute doddle. Famous last words...

AntoinetteCosway Thu 08-Nov-12 11:01:50

They are awful. I think we got away quite lightly-DD would sleep for about 2 hours between feeds, and feeds would only take 20 minutes or so. But we bottle fed for various reasons, and preparing formula etc was a bitch. One of the many, many reasons why I wished I could breast feed!

I'd say I probably got an hour's potential sleep time between feeds. If I'd managed to go straight to sleep immediately each time I'd maybe have got 4-5 hours per night.

It also feels like it's lasting forever, and IS going to last forever. But it doesn't, honest! You'll look back a few months down the line and wonder how you survived grin

(My experience anyway. Obviously it's different for everyone.)

PipIsOutNow Thu 08-Nov-12 11:03:36

I won't lie the first few weeks are really tough. I always loved my sleep and lie ins so was a major shock to the system. Some nights I really didn't get any sleep. Some nights very little BUT you do learn to get used to it and to survive on very little sleep. Plus I tried to nap as and when I could whenever baby slept which helps. There were moments where I truly thought I was going insane from sleep deprivation and then moments where I really surprised myself by just getting on with it. And it can't be that bad as I'm 28 weeks preg with number 2!!!

scentednappyhag Thu 08-Nov-12 11:06:17

Depends on your baby and how quickly you can fall back asleep.
Personally, I found it to be a bone crushing, soul destroying type of tired that left me on the brink of either tears or hysterical laughter at any given time.
But I know people who roll their eyes at that and say they don't know why people moan, and they got plenty of sleep with a newborn.
I suppose it's just down to luck... Are you feeling lucky punk? grin

chopmunky Thu 08-Nov-12 11:07:15

Enjoy your sleep now! I remember the first three weeks being horrendous, getting 3-4 hours sleep a night and very little in the day due to visitors. I'm due in three weeks and I am trying to sleep and relax as much as possible while DD is in school. I am not hoping my baby comes early!

LeBFG Thu 08-Nov-12 11:07:51

Everyone's different with different tolerance levels. But everyone I know in RL has found the first few months exhausting. I personally found it very difficult and felt very sleep deprived for the first four/five months (feels like a lifetime!). I held ideas beforehand like the baby wouldn't cry, he would sleep through at three months etc because DH and I were like that (allegedly)...all totally exploded out of the water once DS was acutally here. Never expected it to be so hard. Great now though and DS sleeps like an angel.

Perhaps if you expect the worse, the reality will feel better? <not very helpful>

noblegiraffe Thu 08-Nov-12 11:08:31

My DS was a disaster, by 5 months he was waking every 45 minutes and I was actually close to breakdown over lack of sleep. As he only slept for 45 minutes, I'd spend the first 10 minutes anxious he'd wake again, then the last half hour I'd be unable to fall asleep because I knew I'd be awake again shortly. It got so that I was so on edge I couldn't physically fall asleep.

Others had it easier than me though! My DS vomited a lot which made it hard to lay him down as he'd be sick, and he then needed to feed more often, so it wasn't anything that could be fixed, except with time.

However, even if you're getting a couple of hours sleep, or more if you're lucky, imagine only getting that couple of hours sleep per night for weeks or even months. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture.

For most people 'no sleep' is an exaggeration, yes. But it's still awful.

BoysBoysBoysAndMe Thu 08-Nov-12 11:18:28

I don't think it's the lack of baby sleeping as such.

The tiredness comes because you won't be getting a full nights sleep. You'll be up every 2-3 hours to feed and settle baby in the first few weeks, and that's day and night.

They'll be no 5-6 hour stretches. That's what's tiring.

Good luck

SlightlySuperiorPeasant Thu 08-Nov-12 11:24:29

Ah yes, it also depends on how ruthless you are with housework and visitors. This time, if the baby is sleeping then so am I. No MNing, reading, housework or entertaining visitors. While he's on paternity leave DH is doing the housework or it doesn't get done (his idea after last time). We've told people to ring in advance if they want to visit and that we'll let them know when we're up for visitors. This hasn't stopped a few dropping round anyway hmm but this time I'm being dreadfully rude and staying upstairs, asleep or feeding DD, while DH deals with them.

Justaoneoff Thu 08-Nov-12 11:28:14

It does depend on the baby, and some people are really lucky. I was breastfeeding for both of mine, which meant that all night wakings were my bag, and it isn't that you get NO sleep, it's that you don't get much restful sleep. To be honest, the second was easier than the first, but I think that's because when the first comes along it's all a bit of a shock. For the first few weeks with both, I had regular night feeds, and that's every three to four hours. Both mine went through phases of not sleeping in the moses basket / cot, so slept on my chest. It's everything all together I think. You've just given birth, so you're shattered from that, you're emotional, your hormones are all over the place, and you have to feed half the night while your partner snores peacefully beside you ... Generally I found, just when I thought I couldn't do it again for one more night, the baby gives you a break.

BoysBoysBoysAndMe Thu 08-Nov-12 11:30:21

It's lovely to have everyone fussing over your newborn and wanting to see baby.

But like others have said, if you want some peace you must be firm and say, sorry you're tired, can you come later, tomorrow, next week etc

You're not expected to hostess the visitors!!

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 08-Nov-12 11:32:08

Babies sleep for about 16 hours a day! So plenty of time for you to get sleep too, just don't expect it to be in big chunks or necessarily at night.

Chopsypie Thu 08-Nov-12 11:35:04

I think it depends how much support you have. With both of mine my husband stayed up til 11.30 and fed baby before he came up to bed. Then I did the feed at about 3am. So I meant I got from about 9pm til 3am undisturbed. Obviously if your BF this isnt really an option.

Both of mien have been quick to feed and then go back to sleep, so I was only ever up for 30mins or so at a time. and I slept whenever baby did.

LadyKinbote Thu 08-Nov-12 11:37:03

I found it HARD but it gets easier month on month. The first three weeks are the hardest so I would make sleep your number one priority for those weeks. Everything else (eating 'proper' food, looking presentable, having a tidy house, even unpacking your hospital bag) can wait.

wanderingalbatross Thu 08-Nov-12 11:37:37

DD used to wake up every 2-3 hours in the early days, and feed for 30-40 mins a time. Which sounds bad, but it only lasts a few weeks and you don't actually have to do anything else. You can stay in bed all day with the baby if you like, neglect the housework and get your DH to bring you food. Breastfeeding is great for sleep as the hormones send you straight back off, and there's a lot of adrenalin to get you through smile

I actually found post-birth much better than pre-birth as the pregnancy just exhausted me and I could not get enough sleep. I felt much more energetic after DD was born.

Although, DH and I did make the mistake of both frantically trying to deal with DD in the night if she wouldn't settle. My advice is to go to sleep if your DH has the baby!

RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Thu 08-Nov-12 11:43:03

As others have said, it depends on the baby. I found week 5 was the worst with both of mine (cumulative tiredness). Then it got better. By week 8 is was pretty okay

witchwithallthetrimmings Thu 08-Nov-12 11:46:09

pre 6 weeks (around) there is not much pattern so sleep is very broken but not much to do during the day so not really a problem. 6-14 weeks was the killer for me, mine would not be put down needed constant feeding or dancing with all evening and fed on and off all night. 14 weeks-2 years things settled down during the day and early evening but my youngest still fed every two hours or more during the night- but more or less co-slept so got some sleep. After 2 years both of mine slept though but both (nearly 4 and 7) still needs a cuddle in the middle of some nights

jinglesticks Thu 08-Nov-12 11:47:52

I slept loads, whenever dd slept, and she did do some 4-5 hour stretches, so I never felt tired. However, I did no house work, socialising or pretty much leaving the house for 4 months. I think you have to choose between sleep and a life.

Now I'm pg with number 2 I am dreading the sleep deprivation. No all day napping with a toddler on the loose!

FranTan Thu 08-Nov-12 11:48:46

There are also the unfortunate babies who have colic. This is an over-used term but if your baby has it you will know about it, as it will scream for hours on end. DC had colic from 2 weeks to 12 weeks, which meant screaming from 4pm until 10pm every night, interspersed with feeding as it was the only thing which would calm him. It was exhausting. Then, when he did finally go to sleep at 11pm, he would wake every 2/3 hours for feeds throughout the night.

However, besides DS, I think my own personal crises kept me from sleeping when he was quiet. Worrying about when he was going to wake and cleaning like a mad woman. This time I want to be kinder to myself.

First time DC in NICU not expected to survive (term complications), extremely ill when at home, non stop crying, colic, reflux, neighbours complaining to us about noise, stress and worry contributed to me feeling like death warmed up. Never slept more than 45min at a time. The first 8 weeks are the worst. Try to get out every day even if it is just to stand on the step (although do avoid leaving keys in door, flashing postman etc), find your surestart centre, meet other mums.

This time? Well it won't be worse.

PartyFops Thu 08-Nov-12 11:57:08

Its very true, make the most of it now. Long gone will be the days where you get more than 4-5 hours in one go. Tiny babies dont often stay awake for more than about 1.5 hours and then they fall back to sleep for an hour or 2, but the hours that they are asleep, you are either doing washing up, housework, or even just trying to get to sleep yourself. This continues day and night for the first few months.

And even when they are a little bit bigger, they often wake in the night for many reasons including teething, too hot, too cold etc.

So yes make the most of it! grin

dinkystinky Thu 08-Nov-12 11:57:43

Depends on your baby - DS1 went for long stints at night from around 3 weeks, DS2 didnt. It is a shock to the system while recovering from birth but you'll be ok.

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 08-Nov-12 11:59:43

For the first two weeks at least, make sure your bedroom is your base, and your pjs are your 'dressed'. Refuse to leave the bedroom as much as you can.

Trying to do the sleep thing, and be a perfect mother with immaculate, sterile, safe house for new phase of life whilst recovering from the birth is beyongpd most people without staff so don't even try. Most people don't with their second which is why second babies are easier.

TwinkleReturns Thu 08-Nov-12 12:00:31

YY its the cumulative effect - so I was up at 4am when I went into labour and didn't sleep at all until DD appeared at 3.15am (so nearly 24 hrs), I then didnt sleep for the next 24 hours as we came home the same day but DD was jaundiced and we had to syringe expressed bm into her hourly. After that she was feeding every 2 hours to try and catch up, day and night and those 2 hours are from the start of the feed not the end. So when you actually work it out, by the time you've done the feed (20 mins), winded them (10 mins), settled them back down (10 mins) thats 1hr20 you're left with to sleep - and you spend a bit of that nipping to the loo, checking they're still breathing, laying in bed trying to go back to sleep and before you know it you're up to do the next feed.

Its not too bad at first because the adrenalin from birth is still whizzing around and you can almost train your body that 4 hours a night is good going. It wont be all one chunk but you add it up and realise "oh Ive had 5 hrs last night, thats good going" which helps you to cope a bit better. Just get your head down whenever you can - ten mins hear and 20 there is better than nothing and it keeps you going.

This time around Im embarking on the glorious journey of sleep deprivation as a single parent with a 2yo so dont imagine Ill be getting much sleep at all tbh! I do intend to leave the house to fall down around me, will live on fish fingers and baked beans and will do the bare minimum!

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