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In the middle of my sleep deprivation as a new mom, I remember being so exhausted that I just had to lie down on the hard floor in our living room.
I struggled for a while to keep my eyes open, before dragging myself upright and into the kitchen for a glass of water.
I had to stay awake.
Why? Because there was a cute little infant lying on a play mat in the living room.
My, precious little infant.
Sound familiar? Then the reason why I was so exhausted will also sound familiar.
Yes, you guessed it: that cute little infant lying on a play mat in the living room. My precious little infant, keeping his mommy awake at night…
I’m going to tell you how you can make the exhaustion at least a little bit better, but before I do I just want to say this: Please remember, that 5 five years from now, the scenes such as the one I described above, are going to be incredibly funny. Yes, even to yourself.
Now, without further ado, 9 ways to combat sleep deprivation as a new mom!
1. Sleep when baby sleeps
Okay, not very original, but still true.
As long as your infant is not sleeping through the night, sleep when he does.
Don’t worry about the household chores, or the house looking somewhat chaotic. That’s fine, the world won’t stop turning.
Don’t succumb to the temptation of doing some cleaning when your baby takes a nap.
I know, I’ve been there, and it’s seriously tempting. But your know what, sleeping is seriously delicious and also seriously good for you.
If you have a newborn, then being rested and having a clean house simply doesn’t go together. Just forget about it and go sleep.
2. Nap on the weekends
During the weekends, when your partner is at home or if your mom’s helping out, take advantage and nap a little longer during the day.
This is a great opportunity to sleep a little extra. Instead of the power-napping you do during the week together with your little one, sleep a little longer and really reset for the coming week.
3. Be picky about visitors & just say no!
That first period can be really busy; everybody wants to see this beautiful being you’ve created.
Remember that it’s okay to be picky about who visits when. Just as it’s okay to decline a visit for a certain time or day.
Your mom might be of great help when she visits, actually taking chores off your hands, but what about the colleague who is really sweet, but just wants to gossip?
Ask yourself if you are really up for it, and if your not, just say you’ve been very tired and need to rest.
When I had my second son, we only allowed visitors during the afternoons and only one couple or two singles at a time. We even added to the birth cards that if people wanted to visit, they could call my husband to see when would be suitable to us.
This reminds people that there’s no party and that they are not supposed to stay all day.
4. Enlist help
There is no need to do all the household chores yourself.
If you ask, you will find that most people are more than happy to help a new mother out.
Perhaps a neighbor will be glad to do some grocery shopping for you if she’s going anyway. Probably your partner won’t mind vacuuming every so often.
Your mother-in-law is likely to be happy to fold the laundry if it means she gets to see her grandchild as well.
Additionally, you don’t even need to feed your baby yourself all the time. If you pump, you can store some milk in the fridge for the night, or during the day when you want to nap and have help.
Just being able to sleep for a couple of extra hours undisturbed is going to make a world of difference.
You just need to acknowledge that these people love you and want to help you and ask!
5. Cut Coffee!
Though this may be difficult for some, be careful with the amount of coffee you drink.
New moms wake up very easily during the night (that’s how we always wake up when our children need us, regardless of how tired we are), don’t make things more difficult by adding too much caffeine.
Try to drink coffee only early in the day and in limited amounts, say 2-3 cups. This should help you to fall back asleep after feeding the baby.
6. Feed baby at the start of the night
This is a trick that worked really well with both of our children.
I would go to bed at around 10pm, to hopefully get as much sleep as possible.
At around midnight my husband, still awake and usually enjoying an undisturbed sleep (I swear, nothing wakes that man up at night!) would pick the baby up out of bed and give him a feed from the bottle.
This works as follows:
Your partner first gives the baby a clean nappy. This makes sure that the baby not only stays dry at night (also important!), but also that baby is awake enough to eat.
Then, let him have a whole bottle. This means that baby is topped up just as the night is beginning.
If you’re lucky, this means you can sleep without interruption between 10pm and 3 or even 4 am.
7. Lie down, even if you’re not sleeping
Personally, I can’t sleep during the day unless I’m really, completely exhausted.
I have noticed, though, that even if I can’t sleep it is still worth while to lie down. Give your body some rest during this time.
After all, it’s up every three hours, especially if your baby is still a newborn. If you’re also breastfeeding, you’re asking it to do even more.
So, give it some rest when you can. Just lie with your eyes closed.
If you find you can’t relax that way, try reading a book; that might even help to actually fall asleep after all.
8. Make sleeping likely for yourself
I already mentioned coffee, but there are other ways to make it more likely for yourself to fall asleep quickly and easily.
Install a bedtime ritual where you go through the same motions every evening. You can take a bath using essential oils, for instance.
Try to meditate or read before sleeping.
Make sure the bedroom is dark enough and put any electronics away at least an hour before sleeping. And what I’ve found really helps me is to use a sleep mask. The total dark and the mask keeping my eyes closed has really improved my sleep!
9. Go to bed on time
For the time being, skip the late night shows and the movie you thought of watching.
It’s not worth it.
Decide on a time (9 hours before your baby usually wakes up in the morning is good) and make sure your in bed by then.
Add a reminder in your phone or enlist the loving, but strict help from your partner.
I mentioned earlier that I used to be in bed by 10pm. That may sound early, especially if you consider that by that time I would have brushed my teeth, changed into my PJs and done everything else that women feel they need to do before turning in.
But it’s just a temporary thing and sometimes you just need to do what is necessary.
If my tips for sleep deprivations as a new mom work, even if things aren’t exactly as you imagined or planned, then at least feeling less tired is going to be a great reward.
You’ll be so happy to be just tired instead of sleep deprived and exhausted.
And remember, this time will also pass. Your sleep deprivation as a new mom will someday be gone.
You’ll think back on those quiet nights when it was just you and your baby, and it’ll hopefully be another fond memory.
Talk about it! Help yourself and other new moms: what’s it like for you and what is your best tip in battling sleep deprivation?
And if you are struggling, download my Baby and Mom Sleep Cheat Sheet ebooklet by clicking the button below.