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How do you split newborn sleep duties?

(20 Posts)
sunnyfields25 Wed 31-May-17 19:33:22


I gave birth to my DS last Tuesday, and after some jaundice, weight loss and a prolonged stay in hospital the three of us are back home. I thought I was prepared for the sleep deprivation, as in I may only get a few hours each night, but I hadn't banked on getting no sleep whatsoever!

We're having some issues with breastfeeding, and DS is proving hard to settle once he's been fed. Add in the nappy changes, and the result is that DH and I are both up all night, with neither one of us getting any sleep. I wondered how other people cope with this - do you take it in turns or share the duties in some way? DH desperately wants to help, and last night he offered to take DS and settle him after feeding, but DH is so tired that I'm terrified he'll trip over while carrying the baby, or will fall asleep while holding him. The other day he stumbled over because he'd nodded off to sleep standing up. Basically, neither of us is safe to be left alone with DS because we're both too tired to stay awake and be alert. It's taking its toll though, as I'm already anaemic and fighting an infection, and I'm not quite sure what we'll do when DH's paternity leave runs out at the end of next week.

Please help!

Spottyladybird Wed 31-May-17 19:42:31

You need to both get some sleep so you can recover. I'd go with splitting the night a bit:
Does baby cluster feed in the evening or is he settled after a feed? If he's cluster feeding, you sit on the sofa and feed, feed, feed and eat lots of snacks/drink lots/watch box sets until he conks out. DH can use this time to sleep.
When baby falls asleep transfer him to DH who can watch films etc or if baby will go down put him down but DH is now on duty until the next feed.
Next feed- DH wakes you, you feed, change, swaddle, feed, hope baby sleeps. DH gets some sleep.

Hopefully this will help! Prioritise sleep and recovery for everyone, look up safe co sleeping if you need to.

5 S's to help newborns settle:
Suck (boob, finger, dummy)
SHUSH (loudly or use white noise)
Side (lay baby on their side across your body while you do the above)
All of these mimick life in the womb.

Spottyladybird Wed 31-May-17 19:43:21

You'll be fine when DH goes back to work by the way, you'll find your rhythm then. And remember dark chocolate is full of iron!

silkpyjamasallday Wed 31-May-17 19:51:40

It's difficult in the first few weeks sleep-wise, we had some of the same issues as you with jaundice and weight loss. DP had to help somewhat as I was hand expressing and syringe feeding so the light being on woke him, so he did nappies when on paternity leave. But as I'm breastfeeding I was resigned to doing all the night wakings once he went back to work and I got used to it eventually. You should try to nap when the baby naps during the day to catch up on some sleep, or get your DH to take her out in the pram while you sleep. Then swap the next day, and your DH can grab a few catnaps during the day. Once he goes back to work he might want to think about sleeping separately, my DP does this if he has had alcoholic drinks or has a hard day at work coming up so his sleep is higher quality. Make sure you are feeding feeding feeding in the early evening, cluster feeding is hard and it is demotivating when they've been on the boob for hours only to wake up less than an hour later hungry again, but it is a phase. They only have tiny tummies at this stage, it will get better as the baby can have bigger feeds.

FATEdestiny Wed 31-May-17 21:29:18

It's early days and this coming year will be the steepest learning curve you can imagine. You will cope. Some practical suggestions:

- baby should currently be sleeping most of the time. Over 24 hours it should be a case of wake, feed, wind, nappy check, cuddle (all that done in about half an hour awake time) then back to sleep. Too much awake time makes matters much harder.

- recreating things baby finds comforting helps sleep. A swaddle mimics the tight, secure feeling of the womb.

- A dummy mimics breastfeeding without being attached to the womb.

- Rhythmic movement would lull baby to sleep in the womb, so try rocking, swaying, bouncy chair, pushchair walks.

- feed, feed, feed, feed, feed. Many sleep issues this age come down to hunger. Baby cannot sleep deeply when hungry.

voobylooby Wed 31-May-17 21:34:01

We did 3 hour(ish) shifts from 9pm until 9pm. Often I didn't get my 3 hours, but I generally got 2. It's hard but gets better! We stopped at 3 weeks and probably could have sooner.

SamoanSamosa Wed 31-May-17 21:37:14

Yes split duties. I also go to bed as early as possible so bed time for me or DH could be as early as 7pm. I would sleep and he would bring baby to me for a feed then take it away again. We take it in turns to sleep. Also during the day both sleep when baby sleeps.

Heatherbell1978 Wed 31-May-17 21:39:36

Both DS and DD did a few 2-3 hour stretches in the first few weeks so we both got the chance to rest a bit but this time around with DD, DH slept in the spare room after he was back at work as he needs to function. DD is now 13 weeks and only wakes for one feed around 2/3am and DH sleeps through it and I go straight back to sleep so I'm tired but it's better than it was.

innitprawn Wed 31-May-17 21:43:19

Can you get anyone to come and do the basics like cook and clean for you?

We ended up with me doing last fees at 8pm ish and then husband doing a bottle feed of my milk that usually gave me 830-11ish to sleep then just me really! But I had my mum stay for 2 weeks after DH gone back and she would cook for us

domesticslattern Wed 31-May-17 21:48:31

Congratulations on your new DS.
Do cancel everything non essential and focus on lolling about establishing breastfeeding. Especially if you are anaemic, that does sound difficult.
With our DCs we got to the same point as you- dangerously shattered. So yes we did institute a shift system. If I remember correctly, DH would do 10-2 (not including feeds obviously, but all nappies and settling) and I did 2-6, then DH would take the baby again first thing in the morning.
He also seriously stepped up on the housework front and did most (all?) of the nappies, while my job was feeding feeding feeding. Dd1, like your DD, had jaundice so feeding wasn't easy as she kept falling asleep so we used to tickle her feet to wake her up. It may get easier as your DD gets a little older and more established eg knowing day from night. Do keep things darkish and gentle voices at night (we called that 7-7) and a bit more action and daylight in the day.

2014newme Wed 31-May-17 21:51:07

Took it in turns, why are you both up?

BonApp Wed 31-May-17 21:54:56

Co-sleeping and BFing laying down were a godsend for me. We split things by me doing all the feeds (obvs due to being the one with inbuilt milk) and DH did the nighttime nappy changes.

alltalknobaby Wed 31-May-17 21:55:30

In the evening I would feed DD then dash upstairs to bed. DP would have her until she needed feeding again, when he'd bring her in to me. He'd then leave her with me and go to sleep in the back bedroom. I'd have DD in bed with me for the rest of the night, sleeping when I could (rarely as she cluster fed constantly). DP would set an alarm for 7 hours after he went to sleep and he'd then get up, make me breakfast and take DD when he could so I could get some sleep again. It settled down after 2 weeks when I realised she wasn't getting any milk from me and we started supplementing with formula.

Congratulations on your new baby 😊 It does get easier!

Notlostjustexploring Wed 31-May-17 21:58:16

Just spent as much time, anytime day or night, resting and sleeping.

We ended up with me mostly taking the brunt of the nights, I'd get up, feed and resettle, and if a nappy needed changing I'd give husband a (figurative) kick. When he went back to work, I did the lot, except at weekends when he would do nappies. This worked for us because:
-I can fall asleep within seconds, husband can take hours, so I coped with the broken sleep better.
-If i was too tired in the middle of the night, he'd get up, no arguments or whinging.
-He did (and still does)whatever he could to ensure I could maximise my sleep, so I slept in til midday while he was off, I get first dibs on sleeping in at the weekend and he has sprog for an hour before work to give me an hour's uninterrupted sleep (baby not a great sleeper)

Just so you know you are not alone - I think it was our first night home from hospital (failed induction, csection, lack of sleep on post natal ward, so completely shattered to begin with), I remember having to put him back into his crib while he was crying, because my husband and I were too exhausted to hold him, while I lay on the bed, patting him through the bars, crying myself, while apologising to him that mummy was too tired to hold him safely, before I promptly passed out with exhaustion.
It gets better. And they're cute.

Chosenbyyou Wed 31-May-17 22:03:30


It's tough at the start! There is no right or wrong on the split of duties - just what works for you and your relationship. I think it's worth having a good chat over it so as there is no resentment over one person getting an easy ride cuz when sustained sleep dep kicks in it can cause issues in a relationship imo.

For us - I do all night stuff and sleep in spare room with 8 week old. It works for us and DH does all the 'practical' stuff for the home and of course works.

I would discuss it with your DH and be prepared to alter if plan A doesn't work - we found it unworkable to both be up all night so we have split it! The first two weeks though are literally fire fighting!!

Fitzsimmons Wed 31-May-17 22:07:27

I was breastfeeding in the early days but with both of mine when I reached the point of no return my husband gave her bottle so I could sleep.

During the nighttime DH would do nappy changes then hand over to me to feed. He would then sleep and I'd try and get the baby settled. My first was a sleep resister so if no joy after an hour so DH would take him so I could get some rest. Basically we took turns. The first two weeks were rough but after that it did get easier.

It sounds like you are both up at the same time. In the nicest possible way, you need to knock that on the head. DH often wanted to be up (in sympathy) with me but eventually realised it was more beneficial to me for him to rest whilst I fed so he could take the baby after.

Can you get help from family / friends with shopping, house chores etc so you don't have that worry as well? Don't be afraid to ask for help, most people will be more than willing, unless you have my MIL grin

If your baby has spent some time in hospital then they could still have a skewed view of what is day and night, so you might have to teach him. Use dimmed lights at night and be really boring, quiet. During the day try and feed him downstairs, be chatty, interesting etc. I had to do this with both of mine and it helped a lot.

I hope you get some rest soon. Honestly it does get easier flowers

Mysterycat23 Wed 31-May-17 22:16:43

Do you have a spare bed or sofa for sleeping on OP?

After the first few nights we tag teamed sleeping separately between our bedroom and the spare room. DH would wake me when DS needed a feed. I was following a 3h rule meaning I wanted to feed DS a minimum every 3h. It was usually more frequent than that of course! We had a timer for us both to keep track. (Pocket nanny) About 4 weeks in I got an electric pump and over 2 or 3 sessions in the day got enough for DH to do an evening feed. So my boobs leaked everywhere due to missing a feed but I got a block of 4-6h sleep. It saved me.

Congratulations flowers

DermotOLogical Wed 31-May-17 22:17:01

I agree with everyone else who says split it. You shouldn't both be awake together if possible.
I would feed til 9ish, husband had him til 12 while I slept. Did a feed at 12, then he was mine til 6 so husband got a few hours before work. Then we swapped at 6 and I slept 6-8.

It does get better, at 4 months he sleeps 7-7 with 3 wake ups.

ASqueakingInTheShrubbery Wed 31-May-17 22:57:13

We were in hospital for the first two weeks, so by the time I came out I was well established with expressing. Once we were home, I slept on the sofa bed downstairs with DD in her Moses basket, so DH was in a fit state to work. He did night feeds at the weekend with the milk I'd frozen during the week, so I only woke up to express when my boobs were about to explode. I couldn't see any point in us both being awake in the middle of the night.

sunnyfields25 Fri 02-Jun-17 13:41:00

Thanks all for your advice and suggestions. Based on what's been said I've concluded we're definitely doing it wrong by both being up together the whole night, as it means we're both frazzled.

The past two nights we've tried a different approach where DH changes nappy while I get set up for feeding, then I feed while DH sleeps, then I sleep while he gets DS settled and back to bed.

This seems to work a bit better, although there's still a decent amount of crying and upset involved as we're having issues with breastfeeding. DS has just been diagnosed with tongue tie (resulting in latching problems and lots of nipple pain) and in addition he cries and flails around for 15 mins before I can get him to feed. So what should be a straightforward night time feed can take much longer than it should. And then it's time to do it all over again!

I'm just hoping that if we can get the tongue tie fixed then breastfeeding will improve, and all 3 of us can get more sleep.

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