It’s no surprise to anyone. When you bring a baby home, you KNOW you are going to lose that precious commodity we all took for granted – SLEEP!
In fact, research tells us that within the first year of bringing baby home, the average couple loses:
- 2 hours sleep per night
- 14 hours a week
- 56 hours in a month
- 672 hours in that first year!
And that same research tells us that the 3 main reasons we lose this much sleep is:
- Feeding the baby
- Dealing with a crying baby
- Worrying about all the changes that are occurring at breakneck speed within your life – now you have a baby
Now here is the kicker. This lack of sleep is clinically proven to
- Induce stress, anxiety & depression by increasing hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin
- Increases weight gain by affecting the Ghrelin hormone in your body which regulates hunger
- Weakens your immune system so you are more susceptible to bacterial & viral infections
- Heightens your negative emotions making you overly sensitive & can increase the development of the baby blues & post-partum depression
- Reduces cellular healing that needs to occur – especially after having a baby
- And can totally annihilate your sex drive!!!
So, here is the summary to all that ‘good news’ – are you ready for this?
SLEEP IS AS IMPORTANT TO YOU MENTAL, PHYSICAL & EMOTIONAL HEALTH – AS BREATHING, EATING AND DRINKING!
ESPECIALLY AFTER HAVING A BABY!
So, with that being said, here are some measures that you can take as a couple to safeguard your mind, body and soul – but especially your relationship, as you navigate the first year of parenthood together.
- You need to talk together as a couple before bringing baby home to plan how you are going to cope with this potential lack of sleep. While you ARE going to lose some sleep, couples that proactively develop a plan to protect each other from the ravages of exhaustion, are the couples that minimise the above risks and enjoy their new family life so much more than their sleep deprived counterparts.
- Ask for help! A common trap many new parents fall into is not asking for help for fear of appearing weak, not in control or for being judged by friends and family for not being ‘ready’ to have this baby. STOP!!! Every new parent goes through this, and every friend and family member who has kids, has BEEN through it. So, when well-meaning rellies ask you what they can do to help, ask them to come over to sit with bub for a while and you can take a nap. AND DO IT OFTEN. In fact – when ANYONE comes over to visit, instead of making them cups of tea, hand over the bub and get some shut eye for an hour. Oh – and if no one offers – ASK!
- Share the night feeds. When one of you is working a job outside the home, it is quite common for the stay at home parent to assume all the night feeding responsibility, so the ‘working’ parent can get up refreshed. But this can lead to serious sleep deprivation for the ‘feeding’ parent. So just for the short-term, it can be great to alternate the night feeding routine, and that way at least one of you gets a total night sleep instead of the two of you getting a broken night’s rest. Remember – this isn’t forever and things will return to normal.
- Sorry about this one, but it is imperative you limit caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. A few coffees during the day and a glass of wine at night with dinner is enough to totally disrupt your sleeping patterns as they are classed as stimulants. Eat and drink well for the best chance to sleep well.
- And our final suggestion for surviving the slumber slump is … sleep when the baby sleeps. This is the one we ALL know, but the one we MOSTLY ignore. Most new parents take the opportunity to do chores when the baby sleeps, or catch up on Facebook, or the latest episodes of Game of Thrones. If baby closes its eyes, that’s YOUR cue to do the same.
So, in summary on this subject of slumber – remember sleep is not a luxury – it is an absolute necessity for the BOTH of you. It is all too easy to just accept you are not going to get much sleep once you bring your baby home, but there are things you can do to minimize the risks and get through this stage relatively unscathed on the other side. Do it for you, your relationship AND your bub. And always remember, the greatest gift you can give your baby is a strong relationship between the 2 of you!
For more info go to www.relationshipafterbaby.com