After months and months of swelling, aches, and pains in pregnancy, finally holding your baby in your arms is a god sent. However, during this first period of parenthood, sleep longer than a wink is nearly impossible. So how do parents get out of this terrible sleep cycle, or at least improve the quality of the little sleep they do have? New parents can try out these five tips and they’ll be counting sheep before they know it!
Diet and Exercise
“Diet and exercise” seems to be the cure-all recommended by doctors no matter the ache or pain, but these two health components can have a big impact on the quality and quantity of new parent’s sleep routines. New parents should ensure they’re getting enough nutrients and macro-nutrients like protein and carbohydrates. Parents should also get these nutrients from healthy food like lean meats and vegetables, not all greasy fast food and sugary soft drinks. Keep an eye out for caffeine late in the afternoon, as drinking things like teas, sodas, and coffee will wreak havoc on sleep schedules.
Try exercises that help you de-stress, such as yoga, swimming, or running. Not only do these activities help destress and release pent up energy, exercise has a distinct correlation with sleep. So even if you’d never be caught dead at the gym, thirty minutes of exercise in exchange for a restful night of sleep is a great trade off.
Take Parental Leave
It can be hard to swing a full sleep schedule when one parent has to go back to work right away. Consider asking your workplace about parental leave so the baby work can be more evenly divided among parents. As Spiggle Law puts it, partners often feel uneasy asking for paternal leave because they worry that their employer might wonder why they need to take time off since they’re not the one who gave birth. Stand firm and ask anyway — getting parental leave means more sleep for both partners, and the new mama will be happier, too.
Sleep is essential to healing and operating at your full capacity. It’s no surprise that newborn babies wake frequently during the night. For some new parents, alternating parent duties for a few nights can help provide the deep sleep necessary to sustain a full day. As a doula, I’ve helped parents devise sleep plans for parents, newborn and even new siblings. There are so many options including but not limited to the guest room for a night, co-sleeping, co-bedding, a “daddy doodies” and “mommy boobies” team and more!
Try Different Techniques to Calm Your Baby
There’s no one miracle fix all for quieting crying babies that will apply to everyone. It’s necessary to try out as any different techniques as you can to find which one works the best for your child. According to Sleep Baby Love, what works on your child one week may change the next week due to “mental leaps” — also known as “wonder weeks.” A calm, quiet baby means restful sleep for parents, so this one is naturally top priority. There are several key items that support calm babies. Expert Dr. Harvey Karp who wrote the helpful book, “The Happiest Baby on the Block” describes 5 S’s – a comfortable combo to mimic the womb! He’s even invented the NOO Smart Sleeper for a good night’s rest.
Ask an Expert
If you’ve cut out caffeine, hit the gym, and are soothing your baby constantly, and you still can’t get a good night of sleep, consider the help of a Postpartum Doula or night nurse. A doula will handle the nightly task of caring for your baby so you can get the deep rest you desperately need. Ask your doctor about it as there might be something else at play other than just tired new parents and a wonky sleep schedule, such as anxiety or postpartum depression.
As you prepare to welcome a newborn into your life, we can help make the transition easier. Sign up for one of our classes today!