Parenthood is a challenge, with a lot of things to learn during those first few month. For new mothers, this adjustment can be tough. We’re always told that sleep for new mothers is hard to come by, but is there a way they can get more? A few handy tips can help you get those extra hours of rest so that you can feel more alert and energised ready to enjoy the moments when your baby is awake.
Six tips for getting more sleep for new mothers
1. Sleep (or rest) when the baby sleeps
This is easier said than done, as not all of us can just switch off at the drop of a hat. However, you should make every effort to try and at least rest whilst the baby’s sleeping – it could help you recover some energy. Lie down in a dark room, switch your phone off and avoid doing any chores – if you fall asleep then great, but if not, at least you’ll have had some time to relax rather than burning up extra energy running around. A full sleep cycle of 90 minutes may seem unachievable, but it could make an incredible difference to your energy throughout the day. Making sure that the sleep that you do get is quality sleep is important, which is why it’s vital to shut off those other distractions (phones, TVs, laptops, etc) to help you get some decent sleep.
2. Get help with feedings
If you’re breastfeeding, you may feel that only you can be there to feed the baby, but if you introduced bottled breast milk early on, you can help get them into the habit of taking the bottle, as well as getting some more rest for you. That way you and your partner or a visitor can alternate the night feeds to help you get a longer bout of sleep, rather than being woken on a regular basis to do the night feeds.
3. Visitors are great, if they can help you out
With a new baby, you’re likely to get a lot of visitors coming in and out, which can be draining at any stage, let alone when you’ve got a baby to look after too. Limit the visitors you’re less familiar with to evenings and weekends when your partner is around. Prioritising those who are happy to sort themselves out – people who will be happy to make their own cuppa or those who can help you put washing on the line or even sit with the baby whilst you take a shower or a nap can take care of things while you get your head down. These sorts of visitors can really help take the pressure off. Just be sure to repay the favour or thank them for helping you out.
4. Consider changing your sleeping arrangements
If you’re finding that the whole house is awake throughout the night, it might be time to assess your sleeping arrangements. Try moving the baby to another room or keeping them closer to you as a way of limiting the time you’re awake. Whilst it can be tempting to move them away from your room early on, the action of waking up and walking into a different room can make you feel more awake and make it harder for you to get back to sleep. Keeping them next to you however makes it easier to pick them up for nursing, allowing you to quickly return to sleep when they’re finished.
5. Timers are great for getting chores done
Setting timers overnight for things like the washing machine, the dishwasher and other appliances can help save you some time – allowing you to rest instead of having to carry out chores. A slow cooker will be a big asset to your home, allowing you to prepare meals in the morning and letting them cook all day so that you won’t have to slave away after a busy day of looking after the baby. Getting into the habit of using timers will free up a lot of time which you can then use to sleep.
6. Talk to your doctor
If you feel like you’re getting less sleep than what is normal with a new baby, you should make an appointment with your GP. They may be able to help you with some light sleeping aids or assess if there’s anything that may be keeping you or the baby from sleeping as you should. Don’t be afraid to book an appointment, as the solution could be much simpler than you think, helping you both get the sleep you need before it becomes an ongoing issue.
The lack of sleep when dealing with a new baby is tough, but there will be an end to it. As the baby gets older, they will sleep for longer and rely on fewer feeds throughout the night. NHS Choices has an excellent resource for parents on sleep which can help you during those first few months. Don’t forget if you have any concerns about your baby’s health, or your own out of hours, you can make an appointment and we’ll be happy to help.