This is one of those questions that have to be answered bluntly and upfront. And yes, you can guarantee a blissful night’s sleep for your newborn! The problem is that, for the newborn, a blissful night involves waking every 3 to 4 hours to suckle contentedly before drifting off again – until the next feed that is. But when it comes to the mother of the newborn, this is a sleeping pattern pretty far from a blissful night’s sleep. However, if you are fully forewarned and forearmed, disrupted sleep is really part and parcel of the wonderful newborn package. And you’ll find your bliss comes back in many other compensating ways.
What would be really helpful, though, is to know what you can do to minimize the disruption, for both your baby and yourself. Then you’ll come through those early months with a modicum of sanity, and strengthening bonds to your growing child. The good news is that there is a lot of research and focus on the safest and least disruptive ways to handle newborns. The bad news is that each newborn is different, and what works for one may not work for another.
Newborns can’t distinguish between night or day; it doesn’t matter to them, because their world is a very simple one. Because human babies are so helpless, they need to grow as quickly as possible in those early months. So it is driven by the twin demands of a need to feed, and a need to rest.
After the first four months, the race to grow is replaced by the race to learn – and sleep may start to get more settled at night. Until then, their sleep patterns won’t focus on the night, but will be spread through the day. And the quality of that sleep will vary a great deal too, just as it does for many adults. Your baby could be dozing lightly, half-awake, in REM sleep or deeply out of it, during those periods between feeds.
It is when they are sleeping more lightly that they can be more restless; and so likely to be keeping you on your toes, wide awake. If you can adjust your routine so that your newborn has their lighter phases of sleeping during daylight hours, and deeper during the night, that will hopefully give you a few more precious minutes of rest at night.
The choice of whether to breastfeed, or bottle-feed, also influences the length of the sleepful periods. Breast may be best in many ways, but it is likely your baby will need feeding more often, perhaps as much as every two hours. Bottle-fed babes, on the other hand, tend to sleep longer, as bottles are more filling. One solution is to start breast feeding, and then to switch to mixed feeding (both bottle and breast) after 5 weeks. That way you can bottle feed at nights, and so hopefully ensure longer periods of night time sleep for you and babe.
It’s also helpful, in those first few trying months, to let the reins of the household go a little loose. Focus on baby first, but also focus on yourself, when your baby is asleep. If you’re tired, and they are secure and asleep, and grab a nap yourself. A few power-naps can make all the difference to getting through the long days and nights.
If you are bottle-feeding, don’t be scared to lean heavily on your partner, especially at nights. They’ll be wanting to do all they can to make things easier for you. So having occasional, or even alternate, nights off, where one of you catches up on sleep in another room, can do a lot to recharge those flat batteries.
The final thing to hold onto, in those nights where sleepful bliss does elude you, is that all newborns do settle eventually. However bleak it may seem at 3am, remember that dawn is always just around the corner.
This article is written by Adana who is a fitness mommy & she owns a website offering free fitness tips at BuildMuscle.org