The best advice I ever received : Sleep when baby sleeps

There are two pieces of advice that I would consider the best advice I ever received; and both can only really apply to first time moms.

The first is specifically for mommies who have had c-sections – you did not just have a baby, you also had major surgery. If you were anybody else, recovering from surgery would require bed rest, slow progress, doing only half what you feel you should – this IS that! Be gentle with yourself, let your body and your mind recover from the physical trauma it just endured. REST.

The second was to sleep when your baby sleeps. Charlotte is almost six months old and it is very rarely possible at this stage; but I am pretty sure it is what kept me sane and possibly even alive in the first few months.

It sounds like an easy thing to do and people throw it at you like poison darts whenever they get the chance; as if the fact that you are tired is purely because you very impractically don’t sleep when your baby does.

What isn’t really clear when people talk about the sleep deprivation of being a new parent, is that it isn’t exclusively about how many hours you sleep in a 24 hour cycle; it is mostly about the fact that you are never totally asleep, as part of you is always listening to baby, and that the sleep you do get is interrupted to feed every few hours. I would rather sleep for 4 straight hours than 10 interrupted hours; you are left never feeling fully rested.

Your life also doesn’t run in 24 hour cycles like a normal person; it is an endless (usually) 3 hour loop with day and night melting into each other. It is easy to get distracted by visitors and partners and often just watching your baby sleep, especially when you are so very tired. But those first weeks when your newborn sleeps between feeds vanish very quickly and before you know it they are only sleeping in 45 minute cycles and naps that short just make your body realise how tired it actually is.

So in those first 8 weeks, when your baby seems to be awake all night and wakes at 3am every night without fail and thinks it’s the middle of the day; take advantage of those day time naps. If you do it from the beginning, I promise you, you will be able to. In the early days when your body is recovering from not only the birth but also the 9 months before, if you blink for too long, you fall asleep. And if you start doing it early, it will become routine for you.

You need to put yourself first. Your baby cannot survive without you, so you need to look after yourself in order to look after them. Sleep when baby sleeps, you won’t miss anything that you can’t catch up on.

#Writersbootcampza Day 10

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