This is a contributed post approved and edited by myself (Nathana Clay).
The moment you begin to tell people that you’re pregnant, you will receive an endless chorus along the lines of: “Oh, so many sleepless nights in your future!” and “Sleep while the baby is sleeping!”. Usually this sleeplessness is due to your baby being awake and often hungry.
These long sleepless nights are rough on your health and mental well-being. It can leave an already hormonal new mom weepy, grumpy, and in some cases quite anxious or depressed. And usually when sleep is available, you sleep like a rock. But despite being dead tired, some women struggle to sleep when given the opportunity.
On an endless treadmill of night feedings and encouraging your baby back to sleep, for some moms it is hard to go back to sleep. You may find that once you’re back in bed, you’re now wide awake and your brain is convinced the day should be starting – even if during the day, you feel constantly exhausted. The phenomenon is commonly known as “baby insomnia”.
So given you’ve already got so much on your plate, what coping strategies are available to see you through these first months of many sleepless nights?
Find Something to Do
Whether you are looking for something to keep you awake while you nurse, or something to pass the time when you cannot fall back asleep, pick a light TV show, like a comedy. 20 minute episodes are perfect. Now, if TV is too stimulating and keeps you awake when you want to go back to sleep, consider our favorite: audiobooks. These are hands free for nursing and available for purchase through Audible or often for free through apps offered by your local library. If you have a free hand, the same goes for ebooks (which are easier to read one handed than physical books). If you are an artist, crafter, or writer, maybe the wee morning hours become when you get creative.
I know some moms who just embrace the early morning hours. After a 4AM feeding, they just get up and start a load of laundry, or unload the dishwasher. This frees them up to nap later or engage more fully with their kids without worrying about completing chores. Also, if your spouse is home, maybe consider using a 24hrlocator to figure out where you can go to knock out some quick grocery shopping. 😉 Taking your baby with you is also an option. And if they are struggling to fall back to sleep, the movement of the car may help. Just remember, very young babies shouldn’t be in a car seat for more than 30 minutes.
Grab Some Time To Yourself
With your little one settled back down and you too wired to do the same, here’s a chance for that precious “me time” that most new moms don’t feel they have the time for. Your TV show can help with this, but sometimes it’s nice to just have the chance to paint your nails or take a long, hot shower with the baby monitor propped on the sink. If you use bath salts or diffuse lavender oil, it may even help you wind down enough to go back to sleep.
Remember that as tough as these long nights can be, eventually you’ll be able to return to a normal sleeping routine. This season is short and temporary. Try and find ways to make the best of it!