Sleep is Essential

March 15, 2019 by Dr. Malua Tambi, OB/GYN
Sleep is Essential

It is a well-known secret, that sleep is essential for our mental and physical well-being. This applies even more so in the postpartum period.

With adequate rest, an infant’s cries and needs may not be as overwhelming as they may seem otherwise. Once our minds and bodies are rested, we are more tolerant.

It may seem like you will never get a good night’s sleep again, as your baby wakes at 3 AM for the third time since midnight!  Do not despair. Babies are very different, but by the time they are 3 to 4 months old, many can sleep at least five hours at a time. As baby continues to get older, he/she may be able to sleep for up to ten hours at a time.

In the meantime, you can work with your baby, and still get enough sleep. “But how,” you ask?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Golden rule: Sleep when your baby sleeps. I cannot stress the importance of this enough.  
  • Put away your phone, turn off the TV, leave the dishes in the sink, let that huge pile of laundry grow even more. When baby goes to sleep, get some sleep yourself.
  • Use the help offered by your family and friends. When they come over to visit, rest,  as they fawn over and enjoy the baby. Do not try to be the perfect host. Most people do understand that they are not going to be entertained by you when you have a baby at home. Grab the opportunity and rest when you have trusted friends and family over.
  • Alternate with your partner, whenever possible, in waking up to attend to the baby. Of course, if you are breastfeeding exclusively and baby needs to eat, you will have to wake up, but if it is your partners turn, hand baby over as soon as baby is fed, and let your partner burp the baby, and change diapers or clothes as needed.
  • Place baby in a bassinet or crib next to your bed, especially on those particularly fussy days. Then you don’t have to wonder into another room overnight. You and the baby can stay in the comfort of your room.
  • Gather and wash things in batches. For example, if baby is using the bottle, or you are pumping, give everything a good rinse, and leave for washing 2 - 3 times a day.

In addition to the above, the basic rules of sleep hygiene apply:

  • Make sure you are sleeping in an environment that is restful, calming and soothing to you. Avoid stimulation with things such as TVs or computers.
  • Avoid caffeinated products, especially closer to bedtime.
  • Avoid nicotine products.
  • Get a moderate amount of physical activity during the day.
  • Try not to lay there, stressing about not being able to fall asleep on command. If not able to fall asleep in a reasonable period of time, do something soothing such as having a warm drink, taking a warm bath or shower, reading a book.
  • Then try going back to sleep.

You should speak with your doctor if you are really struggling.  Sometimes, we have solutions we can offer, to help you get some much needed sleep.

Remember, when you are having a tough day or night, you only need to figure out one day at a time. You may not need to deal with feeding problems, sleep issues, fussiness, etc. tomorrow. Deal with it today, and don’t stress yourself because you feel inadequate to deal with that problem all week. You simply may not need to.

Safely sleep, mommy dearest
Baby wishes you sweet rest
Safely sleep, mommy dearest
Baby needs you to rest.......