The answer to this question has, and always will be… I Do! Since I was a kid, I have always been a good sleeper. Without enough sleep, I turn into a heinous version of myself. I also am a hard sleeper, and once asleep, I don’t wake up easily. This is a nuance my husband doesn’t appreciate, as he is the one that gets up to let the cat in and out throughout the night. With that said, I was a bit concerned as to how the new mom sleep situation would go.
Once P came home, I made every effort to snuggle her and spend as much skin to skin time with her as physically possible! It is amazing the benefits that this type of kangaroo care has on preemies (and infants in general) for support in nursing, temperature regulation, as well as overall emotional stability for both mom and baby. We stayed most days curled up in bed, snuggled up to each other, focusing primarily on our nursing schedule. I tried to take the advice, “sleep when your baby sleeps”, but like most women, found this difficult to maintain. Once P is down for a nap, I can’t help but think of a thousand things that need tending to! I would say that without my husband’s support, I would have looked and acted like a zombie! I know we were lucky to both have some time off from work once P arrived, and not everyone gets that. If you don’t have your partner home that often, I’d recommend you find some additional help! Eating properly, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep can help to keep your milk production up (and your sanity intact!). Some tricks that I learned quickly were to always change P before she ate. Then, if she did nod off, I did not have to wake her up to change her. Also, after changing her, I always make sure that I grab a big glass of H20 and a snack to have next to me while nursing. Again, just in case she took a snooze on me, I had food/drink on hand to replenish my post nursing body. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention, I always had my Softies nursing pads near by! I switched this pad from side to side to catch let down and help me remember which side I had nursed from!
When I was first told that forgetting which side you nursed on was a common conundrum for nursing moms, I was in disbelief. How could you forget which side you nursed from? Let me tell you, you do forget… and that is not all you forget! Basic things, like what day of the week it is, begin to fade away too. Once my husband went back to work, this inevitably got worse. Not only did I no longer have the mental support, I also no longer had the extra set of hands.
Slowly but surely, we began to develop a routine for P, following the “Eat, Play, Sleep” method. The idea behind this method is that baby will eat, then be up and active for a while, and then take a nap. This helps to establish that eating does not correlate to sleeping. This in turn, is supposed to help down the road for when nursing and napping becomes less frequent. So far, so good! She seems very content and happy throughout the day. The only revision we have made to this method is at bedtime.
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They say that it is important to start to establish a bedtime routine around 2 months. This helps baby to realize what/when bedtime is, and hopefully encourages longer sleep stretches during the nighttime hours. Our routine includes a cluster feeding in the evening, approximately 1 hour after her last scheduled meal of the day. Prior to this feeding, we give her a massage and swaddle her up. She has always loved the swaddle, and now lies there with her arms at her side in anticipation! The swaddle is a great tool for nighttime sleeping, as it helps her to feel secure and helps limits the jerking motions that can startle her awake. We also turn on her sound machine during this last nursing session, and turn of the lights.
When P wakes up for her early morning feeding, we keep her as calm as possible so that she can go right back to sleep after eating. She then falls back to sleep after nursing, and sleeps through the rest of the morning. This routine has worked well for us, and we have been diligent about not messing it up. I found that with P, consistency is key! Not only does it help her get the rest she needs, it allows me to get consistent sleep and plan daily activities better. At least for now, we are all enjoying some good ZZZs! And to my husbands liking, my new mom mind is so finely tuned into P’s routine, that I wake up prior to her even making her first peep…. however, I still don’t hear the cat!