57442153The early weeks of parenthood: coping with sleep deprivation


Newborn babies and sleepless nights tend to go ‘hand-in-hand’ with each other and whilst many mums and dads are prepared for the ’round-the-clock’ care needs of their new baby – many will still say that they were totally unprepared for the levels of exhaustion this incurs. Here we offer you some handy tips to help you combat the effects of sleep deprivation during the early days and weeks following your baby’s birth:

  • Grab the opportunity to catch up on lost hours whenever your baby is asleep. This is probably the most important tip – when your baby sleeps; you sleep!
  • Try to ensure you eat a healthy balanced diet and drink plenty of water/juice drinks. It can be tempting to reach for a quick energy fix from a cake, chocolate bar, or biscuits; however, these only provide a quick-fix (rapid sugar rush) that then falls just as quickly leaving you feeling no better. Instead, stock up with fortified cereals, cereal bars, carrot sticks and humus, and pasta salad – these foods help to maintain your energy levels for much longer
  • When you want to get some rest and sleep, it is far better to actually get into bed and pull your bedroom curtains, than trying to grab a quick nap on the sofa. Going to bed is more likely to guarantee you some quality sleep that is free from avoidable interruptions and distractions
  • Where there are two of you, you can take it in turns to catch up on your sleep, so that while one rests, the other is available to care for your baby
  • Now is the time to forget about the household chores and accept any offers of help from friends, family and neighbours. This might include help with the weekly grocery shop; laundry and ironing; cooking meals as well as, help with general household chores
  • Alarm clocks are great in helping you keep track of the time – whether a bedroom alarm clock or the alarm facility on a smart phone
  • When you are significantly deprived of sleep it is very easy to forget things – ‘Post-It’ notes make fantastic reminders – especially when juggling the care needs of a newborn baby with those of older siblings and/or balancing parenthood with return to employment.

Finally, it may seem that you are running on automatic pilot while you cope with an endless cycle of nappy changes, baby feeds and baby laundry. You may also feel totally overwhelmed by just how exhausting the early days and weeks of parenthood are. However, it won’t always be like this and you and your baby will soon start to settle down into familiar routines. However, should you have any concerns about how you are feeling or your ability to cope; talk with your local midwife, Health Visitor or GP who will also be able to offer you support and advice.

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