Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Getting Sleep Postpartum

How to Get Enough Sleep in the First Weeks After Birth
Adapted and edited from a handout by
Penny Simkin

To get enough sleep, you must take your need for sleep seriously, which is hard to do. They wind up sleep deprived and after several days or a week and fall apart. Baby care and everyday tasks become much more difficult than they should be. The following approach will help you get as much (or almost as much) sleep as you need. (It does not work as well if you have other children, unless you have help with them.)

  • Calculate how many hours of sleep you used to need regularly before pregnancy in order to function well. Six hours? Eight hours? That is the amount of sleep you now owe yourself everyday
  • Since you cannot get this amount of sleep in one stretch because of interruptions for feedings and baby care, you will require more hours in bed to get your allotted amount of sleep.
  • Plan to stay in bed or keep going back to bed until you have slept your allotted number of hours. This means that with the exception of meals and trips to the bathroom, you do not get up. You do not brush your teeth, shower of dress in the early morning. Make a mental note of approximately how many hours you have slept since you went to bed (but try not to obsess about it). You may have to stay in bed from 10PM until noon the next day to get eight hours of sleep! If that’s what it takes, do it. Then brush your teeth, take a shower, dress, and greet the day.
  • Many parents find it easier to follow this regime if their baby sleeps with them or nearby.
  • As your baby grows and begins to sleep for longer stretches, it will take you less time to get enough sleep.
  • Hiring a postpartum doula is also a great way to ensure you get enough sleep while baby is taken care of and the house isn’t falling apart while you’re snoozing.

Take your need for sleep seriously in order to prevent sleep deprivation. Sweet Dreams.

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