As a new mom, sleep is hard to come by. My baby is now eight months old, and I still haven’t “mastered” the perfect sleep schedule. Truth be told, I am not sure if that even exists (ugh, but wouldn’t it be nice?). You can’t “five more minutes” a hungry, crying baby and they don’t have a snooze button you can press. Sometimes you’ll feel like a walking zombie and sometimes you’ll feel refreshed after a few extra minutes of rest and a cup of coffee. Honestly, it may sound cliché, but there are times I am bone tired, dragging my feet to her crib and she rolls over, sees me and smiles the kind of smile that breathes such life into me that I forget all about how tired I was. Mom strength is an amazing thing. You never know you have it until you become a mom and the powers are unleashed.
And although we hear it often and see lovely sentiments online about it – moms aren’t superheroes. They’re human who need support like anyone else. I don’t have a perfect sleep schedule and I can’t promise you that if you do “x,y,z” you will have the best rest of your life, either. But I can tell you a few things that have helped me:
- Consider talking with a sleep consultant to learn the best ways to promote healthy and safe sleep for your little one; you benefit from this, too. If your baby sleeps better, you sleep better.
- Get into a routine. Will it always be perfect? No, babies can be a little unpredictable at times. Some nights are easier than others. For the most part though, I have found that if I stick to a routine, we get the best sleep we can get. Dinner, bath time, maybe a book, then dark room, noise machine, and rocking her to sleep can usually do the trick. It may take 5 minutes or it may take 20 minutes.
- Accept help. This was especially hard for me when I first became a new mom. Personally, I struggled with control and allowing others to help because I felt I knew exactly what she needed and I knew I was the primary caregiver for her. While all of that is true, allowing others to help us did not mean I wasn’t her #1. If you have a supportive partner, family member or trusted friend that you can depend on, I encourage you to at least try to lean on them during these tiring times. If they are able to watch the baby while you catch up on some sleep, I think you’ll feel much better and more energized to power through your day. It can be hard to let go sometimes, but I’ve learned you need to give a little in order to get your needs met too.
If you’re breastfeeding, I understand it could be a little more difficult to find the opportunity to take time to yourself and rest; however, if you are able to have your partner / family member / trusted friend watch the baby after you feed them, that could be an option. If you have a newborn, you may be fortunate enough to feed them and sneak in some sleep while they sleep too, but not everyone can “sleep when the baby sleeps” so if you have the support, I truly encourage you to take advantage of it and allow yourself some time to rest. If your baby is bottle fed, you can rest assured that others can help take care of the baby as well if you sleep while someone else handles a feeding.
Believe me, I know it could seem a little scary to let someone else “take over”. My daughter was bottlefed after a while of breastfeeding and I would often cling to the idea that only I could feed her and nobody could do it like me. And you know something? That’s true. Nobody could feed your baby like you can, nobody will have that special bond that you two have – but they will still be able to feed them. They love them, too and they will keep them safe. You can rest, mama.
So, take a deep breath. You’re doing great. Consider talking with a sleep consultant. You can book a consultation here on our website if you’re interested. If you haven’t stuck to a schedule yet, give it a try. It will benefit you and your baby to get on the same page with bedtime routines. And remember: accept help. You can’t be everything to everyone else. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Although you have the mom strength we all muster up to care for our little ones, we need to give ourselves the same kindness and care that we give to our children.
Sending hugs and wishing you sweet dreams, mama.