It’s the one thing we take for granted when we’re young and the thing we’re all dying to get when we’re older….SLEEP! For the love of God why can’t we stockpile the naps we fight against in childhood for those early days of motherhood?
Sleep is sacred. It makes us sane. It’s needed for our bodies to reset at night and I don’t know the science behind it all, but I’ve seen the movie “Inside Out”, so I’m pretty confident it’s just a bunch of glass balls shuffling into the longterm memory bank am I right?
There is no time more cruel to deprive a mother of sweet precious sleep than when she’s just come home with a brand new bundle of squish she doesn’t quite know what to do with that cries and poops and pees and just wants all the milk because the world is cold and bright and noisy and full of lots of strange smells and arms and all that jazz. You toss in the crazy hormonal adjustments and things like your milk coming in and you’ve got a perfect storm a brewin’.
Thinking back on my own experience I wish someone would have forced me to consider what my sleeping arrangement would look like after we brought sweet little Mimicakes home. Because for goodness sake, the second that baby comes earth side, everyone and their mother has an opinion on what you SHOULD do with your baby. And very seldom do we pause to do this one simple thing that I think makes all the difference for mama’s and helps them set up a good rhythm and routine for themselves. Not for the baby, FOR THEMSELVES!!!
So my best sleep advice for new moms is this:
Ask yourself a lot of questions BEFORE the baby comes and educate yourself on a few solutions that might work best for your family!
Here are some questions you might want to consider: What kind of sleeper are you? What kind of sleeper is your spouse? Do you both sleep like logs, or do you wake up at the drop of a pin? How do you envision your sleep arrangement with your baby looking? Do you expect the baby to “room in” with you or be in their room from day one? What size is the bed you sleep in? King, queen, or is it a “California King bed”? Where my Rhianna fans? Anyone in the home a smoker? Is your spouse a heavy drinker?
Why do these questions matter? Because your preferences matter! And answering these questions will help you find a sleep solution that works best for your family. Which will make it easier for you to get sleep and function in those early days.
Once you’ve answered these questions you can look into a variety of options: co-sleeping, rooming in, rooming out, bassinet, halo, doc-a-tot, a swing (gasp!). There are new gadgets and convenience making baby contraptions coming out like hotcakes. And because I’ve been removed from the early days for almost four years now, I can’t speak to all of them, but here’s what I can tell about my experience.
Once I had that little babe in my arms, I didn’t want her more than a few inches away from me. I knew it was important for my milk supply for us to nurse early and often and for me to catch her early hunger cues, she needed to be close by. She slept on my chest the entire time I was in the hospital, people. It’s what felt right for me. But the second I confessed this to the pediatrician, she threw a sucker punch about co-sleeping and death which scared the loving ba-Jesus out of me and made me second guess and doubt myself in a big bad way.
When we got home, we used the beautiful bassinet for 2.5 seconds because the minute she was away from me, guess what, she WANTED ME AGAIN. That first night home was another sleepless night of her on my chest with confused and fearful emotions and death scenarios flashing through my head. Not good!
It wasn’t until the 3rd or 4th day home where I’d barely slept a wink, had painful engorgement everyone said “was just normal” that was in fact NOT NORMAL! And a rescue mission from our beautiful angel of a birth doula who asked me “how is everyone sleeping?” That we FINALLY got a good plan figured out. She was the first person not to judge me when I confessed my baby had been sleeping with me. And to enlighten me that lots of moms sleep safely right next to their babies. She also gave me a variety of resources and links to some cool videos of sleep studies on moms and babies so I could do my research. I finally got peace of mind, a safe plan for co-sleeping with my baby, and validation that my gut and my own maternal intuition might not be so wrong after all. And that night I got the first few hours of sleep I’d had in almost a week.
Now this is NOT to say that co-sleeping is the right scenario for everyone. It most definitely isn’t and there are in fact times it’s DISCOURAGED. But, remember those questions I gave you to consider above? Some of those questions will help you weed it out as an option for your family. And that’s okay!
The thing that matters most is “ARE YOU SLEEPING?” If the answer is no, reassess. If the answer is “Yes, as much as can be expected with a newborn baby that wants to eat all the time” stay the course! And be brave and confident and educated in your decisions. Because most people aren’t gonna care if you’re getting sleep, they’re gonna judge and question and sometimes shame you for WHATEVER decision you make, because birth and babies flat out brings out the worst in a lot of people. But the more you’ve got facts and gumption on your side, the less those opinions will matter. And you’ll just smile because remember you’re getting sleep, and so is everyone else in the house, and that’s all that matters when you’re a new mom.
So that’s my best sleep advice for new mama’s, folks! If any is interested in a follow up to this on safe co-sleeping and what worked best for our family, let me know in the comments. And as a helpful tool to other mamas out there, share what helped you get the most sleep in those early days. But please keep in mind, if you’re gonna share, this is a no shame or judgement zone, we’re all just doing the very best we can in this thing called motherhood, so be nice!
Thank you all for tuning in today! If you found this helpful and know a mama-to-be or a mama struggling with sleep and sleep choices, share this little lifeline. Hope you guys have a beautiful rest of your day, and we will connect again soon. Take care!