Surviving Sleep Deprivation During Your Child's Infancy
Home from the Hospital
If you recently have had a baby, then you know how exciting it is to welcome a new life into your family. It’s an adjustment for all parents – whether it is your first time, or even if you are adding on to number of children. From the time you come home with baby from the hospital, your life becomes dictated by the tiny person demanding your attention at all odd hours of the day or night. While at 10 p.m. you might think it’s not too bad, being awoken at 1 a.m. may be another thing entirely! How do you cope?
It only takes one day of sleep-deprivation for a body to react. Crankiness, depression, fatigue, all occur from having your sleep cycle interrupted. Having it happen again, and again can begin to become problematic, and make it harder to think clearly. In order to avoid burn-out, frequent cat-naps are a must. Whenever baby is sleeping, take advantage of that time to nap too. If you need even more sleep, enlist the help of your partner, other family members, or a baby sitter who can take over for a few hours while you snooze. Otherwise, if you want to shake off the groggy feeling with or without baby actually being awake, go for a walk outside together for fresh air and exercise. The change of scenery and movement can help you both bond, while establishing a sense of calm and improving the quality of your sleep.
Ensuring your infant's needs remains your top priority in those early days. At first, you won't have time for little else. What all parents will tell you is that that is the norm! Every other thing is secondary compared to what responsibility you have in making sure you AND your baby are ok. Once your basic needs are met, you can begin to gradually shift to taking on other tasks, such as cleaning or cooking. If you don't have the ability to refrain from those duties, or are having to juggle multiple responsibilities and/or older children at the same time, be realistic in terms of what priorities are a must, and don't be afraid to ask for help sooner rather than later, because not everyone will automatically know what you are thinking. Establish schedules, assign chores, and take it one day at-a-time together.
Expect the Unexpected
When it comes to raising children, every day is a new adventure. What becomes a problem one day, is often made right again the next. Just as soon as you get used to infancy, your child grows into a toddler, then preschooler, and eventually an independent person with a whole new set of experiences you get to look forward to. But the strategies you used in the beginning will serve you well in the journey of parenthood, because you will eventually have your own style, and adapt tricks and tips you've learned through trial and error along the way. In the meantime, be patient with yourself, your family, and of course your child.