Sleep. Nutrition. Exercise.
A triad of foundations to build your life on. Important self-care components that, when managed with balanced and achievable expectations, can make life immensely more positive. Of course, as a new Mama, the challenges to these foundations are many and come thick and fast! Sleep, I can hear new Mums call out ‘What’s that?!’. Nutrition, finding anything to eat that you can eat one handed and between feeds or time watching your baby sleeping! Exercise, looking after your baby is tough on your body, especially in the first few weeks, do you need any more?! Read on to find out…
Of course, your sleep pattern has changed beyond recognition and there seems to be no end in sight! But if you look at the sleepless nights with a different perspective, this can help you to cope.
See how amazing your body is.
Your body will make changes to help you take care of your baby through the night. Trust your body to adapt and relax into the change. Use your baby as your guide book. Don’t listen to the rule books that tell you when your baby should be in a cot, sleeping through and the never-ending list that makes you feel you are not achieving what you ‘should’ to train your baby to sleep. Your baby will go down when they’re ready, they will sleep through when they’re ready and the likelihood is that the more you try to fit your baby into somebody else’s routine, the less sleep you will get. Accept the change and work with your body and your baby.
See the night as an extension of the day.
You no longer live actively in the day and sleep at night. You live by 24 hours now so take good care of yourself. Lack of sleep is quickly becoming proven as the number one contributing factor to all kinds of health issues; the research is building. But we all know how much sleep affects our mental health and by seeing the day as a 24 hour stretch, you can take day naps and find out what works best for you. Are you a night owl or early bird? Try out what time of day a nap is best for you and for how long. Link with your baby and even if you can’t sleep, lie down and rest. Allow your mind to wander. Mediate. Anything to give you downtime for your mind and body to recover. Make sure you get plenty of natural light and allow your house to go dark at night to help both you and your new baby’s melatonin levels adjust naturally.
See the night time as part of your parenting.
You know that you are still a parent when the sun goes down, but do you accept it? Do you shake off the sleep and find joy in the moments when you are barely visible to your little one in the glow of a night light? Many of my favourite moments have been night time parenting ones. Her joy when she has woken to relieve wind and then squeals with delight, her chilly fingers reaching for my face, starfish baby sleeping positions; my list is endless! There are so many pressures as to how you should be parenting through the night, but just like daylight parenting, you need to self-care by finding a way that leads to a content baby and a Mama who is happy, secure in her nighttime parenting decisions and getting as much sleep as possible to be at her best in her heart and mind. A sleeping Mama is a happy Mama!
See the nights as part of the bigger picture.
You baby will be constantly evolving- you’re not looking at years of the same pattern of broken sleep or sleepless nights. Look for the changes and respond to your baby so your night time parenting will grow, adapt and respond then, when you look back, you will see how far you have come!
Lack of sleep is a major challenge for any new parent and of course, there are those children who have an underlying problem. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you are worried, struggling or just need a little reassurance- go and find it. But find it from a professional, find it in someone who will advise you from a place of non-judgement and support.
Choose where you will go for advice carefully and don’t be tempted to share or seek help from people who may not give you what you need. Put yourself and your baby first so you can feel better and move forwards; growing with positivity, happiness, love and security in your decisions as a new Mama.
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