You can hear him crying through the wall, but he just ate an hour ago, and he couldn't possibly be hungry already. You changed his diaper and laid him down comfortably. So why is your little bundle of joy awake? He's certainly too young to be trying to get on your nerves.
But a newborn baby is attempting to figure out his circadian rhythm. He doesn't know that his mom is on maternity leave, and she can't benefit from three-hour naps rather than eight-hour nights, like he does.
So what can you do to teach Junior that you need a few more rejuvenating ZZZs? Few moms are able to nab the quality sleep they need, but following these five easy tricks can help you squeeze in extra hours.
Ask Your Husband to Take a Day Off
Newborns need to bond with Daddy as much as Mommy. If you're on maternity leave while he's at work, schedule a day for him to take off and be the primary caregiver. He'll get a chance to bond with the newborn, and you'll have a day to catch up.
If you're both at home, though, beware! Daddy can be a good caregiver, but only if Mommy lets him get there first. Use your day off to ignore Daddy's caregiving techniques (let him develop them) and, instead, take a long shower and nap. You'll have to force yourself to relax this way, but if you do, you'll be a happier, more refreshed mommy tomorrow.
Don't Wake Up Every Time Your Baby Does
How's this for a shocker? A 2010 study found that new moms actually log plenty of shuteye hours; they just don't get good quality sleep.
One of the biggest hindrances keeping you from sleeping well is not only worrying that your baby's going to wake up in the middle of the night, but also wondering what he wants when he does.
If you think he might be wet, needs to eat or is otherwise uncomfortable, it's important to check on him. But it doesn't always have to be mommy to the rescue -- enlist daddy to help, or have the grandparents sleep over occasionally so you don't have to wake up every single time.
Take Care of Yourself While You Sleep
Remember all those times you felt uncomfortable during your pregnancy? When you had to put a pillow between your legs and ask your husband for a back rub?
Those days aren't gone yet.
Your body is still morphing, except now it's adjusting to minimal sleep. In order to make the sleep that you have high-quality, take some precautions. Have ample pillows, and place them at your pressure points (between the legs, behind the neck and at the small of the back). Avoid spicy foods, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants or indigestion-provoking things right before bedtime. If you're going to hope for any sleep at all, you might as well ensure your sleep is as sound as it can be.
Pump Milk in Advance
If your baby is breast-fed, only you can supply what she wants at 4 a.m. Thankfully, a breast pump can make your nights run a bit more smoothly.
You and your husband should take turns feeding the baby when he wakes up in the middle of the night needing nourishment. Keep a couple prepared bottles in the fridge, and teach your husband how to ensure the bottles are at the correct feeding temperature.
Then let him take the next 4 a.m. call. He should be willing to, because he loves you and appreciates your need for rest. Let him prove his dedication to his child by taking over a few of those night-owl feeding times.
Time spent with your husband is as important as that with the new addition to your family. If you aren't getting the rest you need, your husband should know, and perhaps he can come up with a solution that better fits your family's needs.
Set aside a time to communicate about how your days have been going. Learn if there are ways the two of you can improve the quality of each other's routines. Sharing your feelings -- especially about the postpartum changes you're experiencing -- can lift some of the weight from your shoulders. Your entire familial structure has changed, and coming to terms with that may help you sleep easier.
Are we in a golden age of paternity leave? Find out why this employee perk is becoming more common at HowStuffWorks Now.
- 5 Things to Know: Picking Baby Names
- Top 10 Women Entrepreneurs
- Top 10 Mom Businesses
- Baby Shower Quiz
- How Sleep Works
- How to Choose a Nanny
- How to Balance Work and Home Life
- How to Figure Out if You Can Afford Not to Go Back to Work after Maternity Leave
- Can workplace skills help parents?
- Will my baby prefer the nanny over me?
- What are the advantages of both parents working?
- How much does it cost to be a stay-at-home mom?
- Breus, Michael, PhD, ABSM. "Sleep Well." WebMD. Dec. 26, 2006. (Oct. 22, 2010)http://blogs.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/2006/12/sleep-facts.html
- Breus, Michael, PhD, DABSM. "Sleep Linked to Infertility." Huffingtonpost.com. Aug. 15, 2009. (Oct. 22, 2010)http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-michael-j-breus/sleep-linked-to-infertili_b_260367.html
- Elkins, Lucy. "Who REALLY needs more sleep -- men or women? One of Britain's leading sleep experts says he has the answer." The Daily Mail. Jan. 26, 2010. (Oct. 22, 2010)http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1246029/Who-REALLY-needs-sleep--men-women-One-Britains-leading-sleep-experts-says-answer.html#ixzz138PIlc4Q
- Hazelwood, Kate. "Scary Truths about the Graveyard Shift." Bloomberg Businessweek. July 11, 2003. (Oct. 22, 2010)http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/jul2003/nf20030711_4474_db035.htm
- Norton, Amy. "New moms get enough sleep, just not good sleep." Mother Nature Network. Aug. 30, 2010. (Oct. 17, 2010)www.mnn.com/family/raising-a-family/stories/new-moms-get-enough-sleep-just-not-good-sleep
- Baby Center. "Sleep aids during pregnancy." September 2009. (Oct. 17, 2010)http://www.babycenter.com/0_sleep-aids-during-pregnancy_7914.bc
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. "New Parents: How to get the sleep you need." Aug. 8, 2009. (Oct. 17, 2010)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-baby/PR00068