(KUTV) Salt Lake City - Nurse Dani with Intermountain Moms joined Kari Hawker-Diaz on Fresh Living with another "Let's Get Real" segment. This time, they talked about Sleep after Baby.
Nurse Dani writes, Who made up the phrase, "Sleeping like a baby?" If you are a parent to a new baby, you know that sleep for yourself is hard to come by because babies never seem to sleep! It's important to have realistic expectations and to know that the sleep deprivation after having a baby is temporary.
How much does a baby actually sleep?
Most newborns actually sleep 16 hours out of each 24-hour period, but it's just never when we want it to be. Their sleeping patterns are largely governed by their eating patterns and newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours, sometimes every hour when they're experiencing growth spurts. For one, their tummies are small and can't hold much volume, so they need small amounts frequently during each 24-hour period. In addition, they are growing so rapidly that they need almost constant nourishment. This means that mom is up every 2-3 hours (this is from the beginning of one feeding to the beginning of the next) and fatigue unlike any you've experienced in your life sets in.
When do babies naturally start sleeping through the night?
Most babies start eating 3-4 oz every 3-4 hours around 6-8 weeks because their tummies are bigger and can hold more volume. This means that they should start going slightly longer stretches at night at this point. For example, you might be able to feed your baby at 9pm, midnight and then 4am, which is very welcome after being used to feeding at 10pm, 12am, 2am, and 4am. From that point on it usually gets better and better. Most babies are sleeping for 6-7 solid hours around 3-4 months of age.
Moms and dads are human too and need sleep so how can they get it during the newborn stage?
Sleep when the baby sleeps. You will probably be tempted to be productive while your baby sleeps, but taking a nap may just be the most productive thing you could do! Accept the fact that dishes and laundry will pile up and that's okay.
Say "yes" when someone offers to watch your baby while you take a nap--you aren't superhuman and don't need to pretend to be. You need sleep too!
Enlist the help of your partner at night. Men lack the equipment needed to feed a baby, but they can certainly help out at night. Mom can nurse the baby and then dad can burp, change the diaper, and get the baby back to sleep; or, mom can pump and dad can feed the baby a bottle, burp, change the diaper, and get the baby back to sleep. Even if dad is only able to help out a few nights a week, this will be a game changer for mom. This will help with her mood and with depression or anxiety that she might be experiencing. You can be each other's best allies or worst enemies through the adjustment phase. Sleep deprivation makes the nicest person cranky and helping each other will allow both to get necessary and welcomed sleep, but also strengthen the relationship and bond you have with each other and the baby.
If you feel like you're getting adequate sleep but aren't feeling like yourself, talk with your doctor. They'll determine if further investigation is warranted for issues that can cause sleep disorders such as depression, anxiety, thyroid problems, etc.
To get more advice from Nurse Dani, you can find her on Facebook.com/IntermountainMoms.