What is the number one question people ask new parents? Is your baby sleeping through the night yet? How is your sleep? How are you surviving? Are you tired?!!
“Um. Yes. I am tired. Thank you for bringing it up. That is super helpful. I could have spent the last 10 minutes sleeping instead of answering your stupid questions!!!!”
Parents ask me all the time the same question… When will my baby sleep through the night? Do I need to continue waking my sleeping baby for feeds? My family told me to never wake a sleeping baby. Is it ok to the let the baby “cry it out” or self soothe? My aunt said she will watch the baby this weekend so I can sleep. Is that ok?
Let’s talk about it!!! And quickly so you can go take a nap!!!
A mom needs on average at least 6 hours of sleep every 24 hours. That is not all in a row, but rather cumulative. Maybe a 2-hour nap here, 30 minutes there. Who knows, maybe four hours happens and you feel like a brand-new person!! But the 3 things we know that help increase milk production are: rest, water and breast stimulation. Notice how the first word was rest! You must rest to allow your body to heal and recover so that you can continue to be able to safely care for yourself and your baby. But how is that even possible?
First things first. I know people will say all the time, “Sleep when the baby sleeps!” But that can be challenging when we are trying to shower, eat, take newborn photos, care for another child, work or even have an adult conversation with a friend that brought you a meal. If you were working outside of the home, Monday-Friday, traditional office hours 8-5, and kept busy on the weekends, there is a good chance your baby was playing in your tummy most nights while you were sleeping and slept while you were busy. Maybe you noticed a lot of activity and kicking 12a-6a. One way we can catch up on sleep is to PLAN awake time from 12a-6a, and some strategically placed naps throughout the day. Maybe a nice morning snooze from 6a-9a, followed by a delicious cup of hot coffee? (Yes. Caffeinated beverages are safe for breastfeeding moms, 1-2 cups per day…that does NOT mean a Venti! Just your standard 8-ounce cup.) Next nap could potentially happen around 2pm, a time when most of us tend to experience some sluggishness anyway. I think siestas are a fantastic idea!! Finally, be ready for bed around 7 or 8pm at the latest. This is a great time for your significant other to relax in for some serious bonding time with the baby. They deserve some snuggles too! If your teeth are brushed, you have your pajamas on and you are in your bed, chances are you will be able to fall to sleep soon after you feed your baby. The oxytocin that helps release your milk is the same hormone that can put you right into a deep recuperative sleep. Remember that feeling of crampy, sleepy, thirsty that you feel when breastfeeding? This is the sleepy section!
I know sleep is one of the biggest struggles of new parents. Remember…this is not forever. This is very temporary. Your baby has a teeny-tiny tummy and a great big brain that needs glucose. Feeding your baby small frequent meals is ideal. I promise, they will hit toddler-hood and sleep for 14 hours in a row…just in time to help you plan the next baby!!!