Remember when you thought you were tired BEFORE having kids? Oh how we laugh at our pre-baby selves and their hilarious versions of what 'tired' felt like. Because there is NOTHING quite like the exhaustion that comes with a new baby.
From waking every 3.5 minutes to feed to spending hours settling a wide awake bubba, sleep is probably the most talked about topic for new parents (actually make that all parents because toddler sleep can be almost as painful!). And navigating life with minimal sleep is tough (there's a reason why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture!)
We're sharing our top 4 sleep hacks for tired parents to help make the world a little bit brighter, even when you're running on empty.
When you've been up the majority of the night, seeing the sunrise and realising that it's actually morning can be enough to make you want to draw the curtains, curse the sun and bunker down feeling equal parts furious and delirious. Thing is, getting outside and getting some Vitamin D is beneficial for both you and your bub.
One of the best pieces of advice given to me by my midwife as a first time mum was to try and get out everyday, even if it was only for 15 minutes. I was skeptical, but being a bewildered first time mum, followed her advice and was always amazed to find just how much better I would feel. As it turns out, there's science behind the theory as light plays an important role in regulating our body's internal clock while also impacting the production of melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone. Getting outside can help you to feel more awake (even when you feel more zombie than human). And your baby benefits as well! Exposure to natural light can help helps teach babies to differentiate between day and night and, eventually, helps their sleep patterns settle.
When it comes to sleep, pressure comes from EVERY direction. From comparing your babies sleep to everyone else's to trying to predict what will happen each night to attempting to nap or catch up one some snooze time and failing miserably, sleep and everything related to it can seem like a never ending nightmare. While it sounds incredibly simple, being able to accept what is, without judgement can help hugely. I remember with my first child being utterly overwhelmed and trying EVERYTHING to 'fix' the lack of sleep problem.
With my subsequent kids I had realised that I wasn't doing anything 'wrong' and that babies just wake up (it's kind of what they do). I also put a huge amount of pressure on myself to catch up on sleep when I could but would find it incredibly hard to nap when I knew that I could be woken at anytime. I couldn't relax but would try and force it so that I ended up frustrated and annoyed (are we having fun yet?). Once I realised that it was ok to do something else to take the pressure off, be it lying on the couch scrolling on my phone, reading a book or even just sitting in the garden with a coffee, I found I could handle my lack of sleep a little better. I would save my naps for the weekends when I knew my husband was around and could attend to the baby if they woke 15 minutes into my lie down.
GAME CHANGER! Learning to breastfeed lying down can mean far less nighttime disruption which equals more sleeeeep (or at least time spent horizontal). Like many aspects of breastfeeding, feeding lying down is a learnt skill and can take a bit of time to master. The Australian Breastfeeding Association has the following tips:
There is a good chance that your baby will drift off to sleep, especially if they're very young/it's during the night. You may also find yourself feeling snoozy. It is important that you consider where bub will be sleeping when the feed is finished so that you're able to either doze of yourself (if you're bed sharing) or move baby to their own sleeping space (if you're co-sleeping with baby in a cot or bassinet in your or their own room).
Bed-sharing or co-sleeping can be an excellent way to get a little more sleep with many breastfeeding mums finding it a lifesaver BUT it is important that you adhere to the safety guidelines which you can find HERE.
Life with a newborn is as much about survival as anything else. While life does go on, especially if we have other children, we also often have huge expectations on ourselves for what we think we should be achieving/doing. As a mother of three, I remember the early days with my third and the whirlwind that was life once my husband went back to work and our new routine got established.
With an A-type personality and desire to 'do all the things, all the time' I knew that I was in danger of throwing myself back into life and pushing things to the limit while running on very minimal sleep and (probably too much) coffee. To stop this happening, I set very small tasks for myself and cut my to-do lists right back. I knew mornings would always be busy with my two older children so scheduled down time for after we'd get home from school and pre-school drop offs. I'd try and tick 2-3 things off my list in the middle of the day but realised that somedays I'd get nothing done (except breastfeeding and entertaining my 3 year old) and that that was ok. I got help where I could and found ways to ensure the essentials got done (i.e meal prepping) but in a way that created the least amount of stress.
I drank plenty of coffee, ate a lot of pastries, watched some Netflix, spent a lot of time out walking with the baby carrier and my older daughter on her scooter and just tried as much as possible to embrace the fourth trimester and a slower, gentler pace.
Looking for more breastfeeding support and advice, make sure you check out our resources section HERE.
For the majority of us, consciously moving away from single use, non recyclable/biodegradable products is something we are actively committed to, but it can become overwhelming at times, especially working out where to start. While these easy eco-friendly product swaps aren't going to change the world overnight, they help us to play a small role in the greater good.
There is no doubt about it; breastfeeding is tough. It can take a huge toll on all aspects of your life, from your physical health right through to your mental and emotional wellbeing and even your relationship. Breastfeeding has the power to drain not only your boobs, but a big chunk of your life force. We get it. As breastfeeding mamas ourselves, we've been there. And we're here to tell you that there are ways to take care of your babies mama (AKA you) even when you're boobin' round the clock.