In our blog post on postpartum rest and recovery, we touched on sleep depravation and newborns sleep patterns. In this post, we have Francesca, a qualified baby sleep consultant from The Sleep Escape to provide some tips on managing newborns’ sleep.
Francesca — Sydney Sleep Specialist (The Sleep Escape)
The first 40 days postpartum can feel like a roller-coaster ride, new mums are easily overwhelmed and exhausted. Throw in a newborn’s disorganised sleep patterns and that has the potential to deprive mums of essential sleep and rest. Hence learning to manage a newborn’s sleep early in postpartum becomes very important. Here are my 3 top tips on how new mums can manage their newborns’ sleep during this period:
Ensure you support the ‘wake up’ of the baby that happens around week 3 of age. Prior to this, babies are running off your maternal *melatonin making them sleepy and naps would seem go pretty well. However once this wears off, you will want to help them sleep as much as possible through swaddling which make them feel secure and reduce the startle reflex. Place them in a dark room to help with the production of their own melatonin, and implement white noise as it mimics the noise of the womb to help them feel safe and secure.
Babies genuinely are unable to self settle so do whatever it takes to help them sleep. Shushing and patting your newborn is my go-to technique in their cot, but if this fails, motion type settling like bouncing and rocking will help immensely. I promise no bad habits will form this early on, so really doing anything to help them sleep is advised.
Establishing feeding takes time whether that is bottle or breast, so be kind on yourself here. Once you feel they are feeding well and taking substantial feeds, you can begin to encourage a 3-hour feeding rhythm. Your baby will have days of snack feeding and demand feeding more frequently than this which is totally okay. I do not suggest 3-hour feeds to put unnecessary pressure on mum, rather just to encourage rest between feeds for bub and mum and increase confidence for parents to know they can encourage longer naps without second guessing themselves if the babies are upset from hunger.
*What is Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone released by the brain in response to darkness. This hormone is long associated with the control of sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythms.
You can follow Francesca on her website, The Sleep Escape and her Instagram. Francesca runs 20 Sleep Questions every Wednesday AEST on her Instagram stories, be sure to tune in for more useful tips!