A New Mums Guide to Surviving The First Few Weeks

A New Mums Guide to Surviving The First Few Weeks

I don’t think you can ever fully appreciate the full effects of sleep deprivation are until you have a baby.

When pregnant with my 1st son, I had this crazy idea that my baby would sleep all night and doze all day as that’s what babies do. So it came as quite a shock when I found out that most babies have to learn to sleep on their own, and that for some,  it’s not a natural progression from the cosy and comfortable feeling of the womb to the bright, noisy and scary world on the outside where the only place it feels safe is in the arms of mum or dad. And as sleep requires you to feel safe, then the only place my babies ever liked to sleep was on my or my husband’s chest.

All my boys have been rubbish sleepers to start so I’m well equipped to let you know just how sleep deprivation feels. Many new mums begin their journey into parenthood following the marathon of labour and in a cruel twist of fate, as your body is recovering from its battering you then have to wake up every few hours to feed your new and very dependant offspring.

smiling baby http://muminanutshell.com

Now don’t get me wrong, I love those first few days being wrapped up in the hormonal rush of love, getting to know the little person you’ve been carrying around for 9 months. And with paternity leave as well as the help from friends and family, most new mums are able to relax and let everyone else worry about the everyday stuff. My fondest and sweetest memories are of the early morning feeds, listening to the dawn chorus, just me and my babe, no distractions, no visitors, no noise. It was pure bliss.

But then the fog sets in, the fuzzy, disoriented grip of no sleep. Emotions run high, decisions harder to make and a everything just seems a little harder to do.It was after my second son was born that I remember looking in the mirror one morning and barely recognised what was looking back at me. I saw dark circles, tired eyes and a dire need of a few hours taming my mop of hair in a quiet, relaxing salon. When I wasn’t leaving the house in slippers, I was taking the hoover out the door instead of the pram. I’d put the baby in the moses basket to run the washing out, then forget where I’d put him and conversations just came out big slushy nonsense.  So, like I said, if you’ve ever experience sleep deprivation, I hear you, I hear  you loud and clear!

Third time round, you’ll excuse me for being a little nervous, as I knew what was coming, but this time I had a plan, a clever, wise and well thought out plan. Accepting that the odds were on that I was going to have another cuddler/non sleeper and knowing by now that it was perfectly normal for babies not to sleep through the night. I equipped myself with a new mum formula;

A new mum's guide to surviving sleep deprivation, hints and tips to get you through the first few weeks and months

 

Acceptance.

Babies have small tummies which get hungry quickly, and yes, breastfed babies will probably wake more often than formula fed due to breast milk being used up quickly and not taking as long to digest as formula. But my determination to feed my babies myself outweighed any sleep I could be missing. I’d nourished them from the inside and wanted to carry on now they were born. The magic of breastfeeding however, is your body produces a sleep inducing hormone when you feed at night so the bottle v’s breast decision is pretty much even when it comes to sleep. If you accept you’ll be woken, then it’s not so hard.

Don’t rush.

However your baby has chosen to come into the world, it’s tough. Labour is both exhausting and painful. C-sections are major surgery. You need time to recover both mentally and physically. Don’t rush out into the world, picking up where you left off, accept help and relax. Spend time getting to know your new baby, the housework can wait and visitors won’t care whether you’ve got dressed or emptied the dishwasher. I opted for a 10 day new-baby-bubble third time round. I didn’t leave the house, food was ordered online, family and my husband did the school run and I eased my son into the world rather than thrusting! If you have a supportive family and network of friends I thoroughly recommend it.

Collate a new mums tool kit

If you look better, you’ll feel better. Get your hair cut before baby’s born into a manageable style, drink more water to make your skin look better, take a new mum multivitamin and get together a killer, quick to apply make up set. Eye gels and eye mists will help tired eyes, a good moisturiser ( I swear by BB creams) will take care of your face and mascara and lip balm will freshen your look if you haven’t got the time to apply the full works.

Hopefully if you follow all the above, that sleep deprivation won’t seem so bad. And just remember, it doesn’t last forever. Before you know it you’ll have a teenager who sleeps more than is humanly possible.

A new mum's guide to surviving sleep deprivation and those first few weeks

photo taken by Zoe at Phaze Photography

 

 

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32 Comments

  1. 17th August 2015 / 8:08 am

    I am sending this to my sister. She has a week old baby and she didn’t believe me when I said that she really won’t understand sleep deprivation and the meaning of tired until she’s had a baby (not in a nasty way, I was just pre-warning her). She’s just turned around and said she now understands. This list will be so helpful for her because it really is NOT easy dealing with sleep deprivation. Luckily it does get easier. I used to live on the notion that ‘i will sleep again, one day!’ and that got me through. xx #maternitymondays

    • 17th August 2015 / 8:35 am

      I really hope it helps, Ive found it so much easier to cope with this time round and reminding yourself it’s only temporary really helps. You’ve really got to just roll with it haven’t you!

  2. emma
    17th August 2015 / 8:59 am

    Sleep deprivation is definitely somwthing you can’t explain to people until they’ve had a baby. My 2nd is 3 weeks’ old and I was so much more ready for it this time and it hasn’t been too hard. I think it helps, ironically,that my toddler still doesn’t sleep through the night so I can’t remember what sleepiing a full nigh is actually like!

    • 17th August 2015 / 9:28 am

      I went 18 months without a full nights sleep and I’ve actually got use to only having 6-7 hours now. (not straight through mind) your body soon learns to adjust doesn’t it!

  3. 17th August 2015 / 9:05 am

    oh sleep deprivation… My little man is almost three and still wakes 5-6 times a night, although this is a massive improvement from the 20+ times he used to wake. He has Autism so I guess it’s just something we’ll always have to deal with. I think the longer you go without sleep the better you deal with it xx #MaternityMondays

    • 17th August 2015 / 10:00 pm

      Wow, 20 times! that must’ve been a killer, poor you and poor little man thats tough on you both. I guess you do get use to it though. I worry when my son sleeps longer than usual now and sometimes wake up to check him. My normal is to check in regularly and not sleep all night!

    • 17th August 2015 / 9:58 pm

      Definitely makes a difference doesn’t it, although it’s hard to think you’ll ever get a full nights sleep ever again at the time.

  4. Tracy Nixon
    17th August 2015 / 9:41 am

    Thank you! I was just at the opticians on friday and she recommended for me to buy some eye gel because my eyes have been dry lately but it was expensive in the chemist so I bought Optrex Actimist instead . I really like it because it is so quick and easy to use. My dry eyes are due to tiredness – my kids all sleep thoughout the night but I don’t – I suffer from insomnia so am up loads and get up at 4.30am every morning!

    • 17th August 2015 / 9:20 pm

      Oh no! It sounds like the perfect prize bundle for you. Good luck!

  5. Mum in Brum
    17th August 2015 / 9:54 am

    I’m sure every new mum will relate to this! I honestly did not know what had hit me after the first couple of weeks when my husband went back to work. I got hung up thinking that there must be a way to help her sleep better but you’re right – accepting the lack of sleep is the best thing you can do. Forget life as you knew it for a while and forget the house work. I love the idea of a new baby bubble for the first few weeks – I’ll definitely be adopting that if there’s a second time. #MaternityMondays

    • 17th August 2015 / 9:23 pm

      I honestly can recommend it 100%. It made such a huge difference to both me and my baby. I was ready to face the world after my hibernation rather than feel I had to go and show him off.

  6. 17th August 2015 / 11:22 am

    Great post and it is so so true there really is nothing quite like it! Fab tips for coping with the sleep deprivation, especially with acceptance, putting too much pressure on ourselves at that point in time is not helpful! Thanks for linking with #MaternityMondays

    • 17th August 2015 / 9:57 pm

      I hope they do help someone, just knowing it’s ok to take a step away from the world and get to know your new baby should reassure new mums.

  7. 17th August 2015 / 11:35 am

    Sleep. What we’d give for a whole nights sleep! it’s amazing that pre kids you can’t imagine how much you’d crave it! we were so lucky with our first, she’s always slept well, from bedtime through the night, since 5 weeks. yep 5 weeks. breastfed. but, she has always been an early riser. Our second, 10 months old, still hasn’t really slept through yet. It’s amazing how you can cope and get on with your day though eh? I thank coffee…. X MMT #maternitymondays

    • 17th August 2015 / 9:18 pm

      Coffee is the first thing I think of when I wake up, it’s been my saviour!

  8. 17th August 2015 / 12:33 pm

    Such good advice. Second time around I had a bit of ‘the fear’. I knew I’d been able to cope once, but I also knew that every baby is different. Luckily, Tin Box Baby 2 has been a dream – quite literally. She has been sleeping from her 10pm night feed until breakfast since she was two and a half months and before that rarely woke more than once. It’s in stark contrast to her sister (love her face), who was waking in the night for a bottle until she was one. Having good sleep makes so much difference. I also believe that being a ‘second time round mum’ makes you a little less stressy, which must rub off too #MaternityMondays

    • 17th August 2015 / 9:17 pm

      I agree the more you have the less you worry that’s for sure. You sound like you’ve had it the right was round, a good sleeper and another child is the perfect combo

  9. Marion
    17th August 2015 / 2:32 pm

    Oh I hear you… Baby is three months old and still doesn’t sleep through the night which I know is normal but gosh… I am so tired! Acceptance and being kind to myself is what is getting me through the days! My mantra is “this too shall pass” as I know one day, he will sleep 6/7 hours in a row and I will feel human again.
    I admire you for having three boys and it gives me hope that you can survive sleep deprivation and have more kids! I really want another one (not quite yet but hopefully soon) but I have no idea howI will do it… sleep deprivation is a killer. I guess you somehow find the strength within yourself when faced with the situation…

    • 17th August 2015 / 9:14 pm

      Honestly it will get better. I co sleep now with my third and get so much more sleep as I don’t have to wake up properly and get out of bed! People always tried telling me you won’t have ANOTHER non sleeper when I was pregnant but I did but I think it’s cause I’m too soft tbh!

  10. Emma's Mamma
    17th August 2015 / 9:26 pm

    This is great advice! I felt so overwhelmed those first few days and I never fully recovered from the lack of sleep during my long labour. Will definitely take care of myself and be better prepared if I have a second child 🙂

    • 17th August 2015 / 9:52 pm

      I don’t think anyone is truly prepared and with most new mums leaving hospital within a day or 2 after delivery, there leaves very little recuperation time these days

  11. Samantha Loughlin
    18th August 2015 / 3:30 pm

    Drinking plenty of water helps too as eyes get dry from dehydration and lack of sleep xx

    • 18th August 2015 / 7:35 pm

      I use to get so thirsty when breastfeeding so my water intake was brilliant!

  12. 18th August 2015 / 10:34 pm

    we had twins and I wish we could have another go – it was just one giant fug and we were so worried all the time! #twinklytuesday

    • 19th August 2015 / 1:56 pm

      I can imagine you took sleep deprivation to a whole new level! The early days are more about surviving than anything, aren’t they.

  13. 18th August 2015 / 10:39 pm

    Great tips! I think lavender bath oil was fab too and black Pj bottoms…. Yes, to wear all the time and no one knew! ?
    #twinklytuesday

    • 19th August 2015 / 1:54 pm

      Oh I forgot about Lavender oil, I used that as well as tea tree. good tips about black pj’s!

  14. 19th August 2015 / 3:33 pm

    Sleep deprivation is a killer isn’t it? I thought I was going a little bit loopy to be honest!! Then at 9 weeks they started sleeping through the night and normal (ish) service resumed!! Well, as normal as life with newborn twins can be anyway!! 😉 Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday — hope to see you again next week! x

    Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

    • 23rd August 2015 / 9:41 am

      that’s amazing that you got them sleeping so early, my son’s 15 months and still wakes up a few times, that’s why I co sleep!

  15. Sugar&Rhubarb
    20th September 2015 / 7:14 pm

    The 10 day newborn bubble is such such such valuable advice!!!! I have found sleep deprivation less of a killer with my second because I’ve learnt from my mistakes with my first. I didn’t give myself such a hard time. this time round I didn’t try to do it all and I am very much well aware of how quickly this phase will pass, but also how intense it can be once your brain and emotions are clouded by a lack of sleep. I wanted to enjoy every second of this babyhood so I’ve been determined NOT to let a lack of sleep drag me down. I nap when I can, I let my other half help with night feeds where he can and I’ve got a cleaner. I now adore sitting on the sofa in the middle of night with her… because it doesn’t feel endlessly exhausting x

    • 20th September 2015 / 8:12 pm

      You sound like you’ve got the perfect plan, it’s a shame our firsts are such a learning curve. It’s taken me 3 babies to realise I don’t need to do it all so you’re doing fab to get it all sorted with number 2.

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