Everything is brand new and from the moment your newborn arrives, the race is on. It’s worth doing what you can (and you can never do enough) to prepare for the substantial challenges you now will deal with.
“For some new parents, their friends may not yet have had children, and they won’t understand how totally exhausted you are,” says Dr. Brian Meeker. “You aren’t crazy, and you’re not wimpy. Sleep can’t be saved-up like money or food. Know that you will be sleep deprived and do what you can to manage around being tired – almost all the time until your baby is sleeping longer at night, which should be in about six months.”
MOOD CHANGES: Mood changes – find ways to take a breath when you’re very tired – outbursts of anger and heightened anxiety come with sleep deprivation. While everyone knows not to shake a baby, it can happen in a moment of anger and frustration. Learn to walk away and take a moment for yourself.
RECOGNIZE “MICRO-SLEEPS”: When extremely tired the body forces “micro-sleeps.” In a micro-sleep state, the eyes may be open, but the brain isn’t processing information. You can try to force wakefulness, but the body will win, and you’ll soon be struggling to remain awake again. Decision- making and driving are especially hazardous when you’re seriously short of sleep.
SEX DRIVE DIMINISHES: As if there wasn’t enough going on in your relationship, sleep deprivation is another factor putting the brakes on intimacy.
FORGETFULNESS: Suddenly can’t remember much? Lack of sleep is a leading culprit.
PUMP AND SLEEP: Pump and sleep – If breastfeeding let your partner do diaper changes and put the baby back to bed. If bottle feeding, take turns feeding as much as possible.
POWER SNACKING: A full tummy can lead to better sleep. Keep a supply of easy snacks handy so while baby is getting some nutrition, you are too.
ONE NIGHT ON DUTY, ONE NIGHT OFF: Another tactic to try is trading nights of complete responsibility.
SLEEP IN A SEPARATE ROOM: While one parent keeps baby happy and fed, the other sleeps in a separate, quiet space.
(This article is part of Virginia Gay Hospital’s bi-annual publication, “Thrive” Spring/Summer 2018 issue. An online version of the entire publication can be found at https://myvgh.org/thrive/)
Virginia Gay Family Medical Clinics provide prenatal care to 30 weeks for pregnancies without complications. Well-child visits are available beginning after the first postpartum assessment, and children are cared for through adolescence. To schedule an appointment, call the clinic of your choice: Atkins, Urbana, Van Horne or Vinton Family Medical Clinic.