What I wish I knew on surviving baby sleep…

There are two pieces of advice I would share with new mums that allowed me to survive (I was going to say cope, but lets be honest, it’s survive) and to regain some semblance of sanity after having a baby…

The caveat: I’m no expert and do not know your personal circumstance – take any advice at your own risk.  I’m also not judging you – this is what I do and it works for me – would be great if you don’t judge me in return.  Happy for open communication and educating others, just don’t be a douche.

Forget the clock

Sleep deprivation is bad enough but knowing how little sleep you are actually getting makes it worse.  Feeding the baby at night and looking at the shiny digital clock display telling you you’ve been awake every am hour so far isn’t helpful.  Turn that clock around so you can’t see it.  Thinking about how it’s only been two hours since the last feed, or keeping track of how few hours of broken sleep you’ve had in a 24 hour period doesn’t help!   Thinking of scarcity increases it.  Instead roll with your baby’s natural rhythms and just accept you’re tired (yep, super-dooper-never-been-more-tired-in-my-life tired) but exactly how tired doesn’t matter…

Learn to feed laying down/Ditch the guilt

Okay so that kinda looks like two things there – I promise they are linked.  For me breastfeeding in bed was a game changer.  The nurses at the hospital taught me and I thought I’d never use it. Instead of having to get up, get baby, feed baby (and for me that’s sitting up with pillows supporting me, pillows supporting the baby, so get up, position pillows, position baby, re-position pillows, feed baby), potentially burp baby, resettle baby, resettle baby, resettle baby, try and fall asleep whilst thinking about how short a time it will be til baby wakes again.. night feeds became: roll over, attach baby, both fall back to sleep.  Yup.  Magic.

This does mean you are now officially bed sharing, not just co-sleeping (co-sleeping is having the baby sleep in the same room, usually on their own sleep surface).  In my world bed sharing isn’t common and comes with a heap of guilt regarding SIDS.  So I did my research.  Assessed the risks.  Spoke about them with my partner.  Enjoyed my new found super power: feeding baby and getting more sleep at night.  And then ditched the guilt.  Having a happy, content, sleeping baby in your armpit is pretty much perfection as you drift back to sleep.

A sneaky third point…

Read some literature and gets some realistic expectations on infant sleep.  Babies are not designed to sleep through, nor fall asleep by themselves.  Life becomes much easier when you accept your baby is normal and you are not alone in your ‘there is not enough coffee in the world’ zombie state.   Pinky McKay’s Why your newborn SHOULDN’T sleep all night article is a great place to start.

Not safe bed sharing…

A couple of notes on safe sleeping practices…

No matter where your baby sleeps, SIDS and Kids have put Safe Sleeping guidelines for parents:

1. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side
2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered
3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after
4. Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day
5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult care-giver for the first six to twelve months
6. Breastfeed baby
(full info here)

To minimise risks when bed sharing, you’ll need a firm sleep surface, non smoking parents who are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a breastfed baby, no blankets or doonas etc near the baby’s head and more.  Check out safe co-sleeping guidelines here and for more detailed information of bed sharing risk statistics and reporting checkout this article at evolutionary parenting.


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