The Truth About Sleep Deprivation and New Parents

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The one thing that expectant parents are aware of is that they will be sleep-deprived. That’s why when any mom-to-be is shopping for their new bundle out of excitement while they are picking up baby onesies and other accessories, they are confident at the same time that they will be able to tackle their exhaustion. They believe that they will be able to function on less sleep.

However, what expectant moms don’t realize is how difficult sleep deprivation will really be. Especially since they will be recovering from childbirth, regardless of how they give birth. And expectant dads may not be having to recover from giving birth, but they will be sleep deprived too. This is because both parents will be kept up by the newborn’s demanding needs. Newborns will need constant feedings, changes, and will have other reasons to keep the parents up. 

The Truth About Sleep Deprivation and New Parents

The truth is that parents of newborns will be sleep deprived. This will be a major shock to new parents. Second or third-time parents know exactly what to expect with a newborn. Even so, all parents of newborns can benefit from some great tips to help fight off the exhaustion that plagues them.

Let’s go over the truths about sleep deprivation and new parents, as well as how they can learn to function as well as they can with little sleep. 

Expectant parents will soon find out the struggles of sleep after a newborn. Find out the truth about sleep deprivation and how to avoid it!

1. Take Advantage Of Napping

The fact of the matter is that adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. The minimum of sleep a person needs is 6 hours of good-quality sleep. This is so you can stay healthy and function.

Not everyone is able to attain that, whether they are parents or not. Sometimes people who are working odd hours or who have other unrelated stress will only get very few hours of sleep. However, for new parents, this is a harsh reality and for anyone who doesn’t get enough sleep will be building sleep debt which will increase the chances of health problems. And for new parents, postpartum depression is one of the risks that will result from not getting enough sleep. This can affect new fathers as well. 

Asking for Help

However, the one thing to do in order to minimize sleep debt is to literally sleep when the baby sleeps. That is cliche, but it is true. Parents need to start taking advantage of napping during the day. And if it means they can get a 20 to 40-minute naps a few times a day, that will help reduce the sleep debt and will help them function more.

In an ideal world, parents would be able to count on someone to help them get some sleep. Whether by having a trusted family member or professional sitter care for the baby, they would be able to get some sleep. Either way, it is important that new parents start taking naps so that they reduce their sleep debt.

By the time the baby is 3 months old, then they will start to sleep for longer hours in the night. This is good news for parents because that is when they can start getting better sleep as well. But sleep regressions will happen which parents need to be prepared to deal with as well. 

2. Expect Chaos After The Baby Is Born And Don’t Attempt To Do Housework

Another thing that is adding to sleep deprivation is the anxiety over the piling laundry basket, dishes in the sink, and dust accumulating in the home. It is not good to live in the dirt but the truth is that getting enough sleep is far more important than dealing with chores. And basically, things will overall be quite chaotic.

The way to handle that is to have a trusted family member to take care of the laundry, cleaning, and errands. That way the new parents can rest and care for their baby without having to worry about anything else. For those who do not have this option, hiring a housekeeper might be a great option. Another option would be to go to your local place of worship and ask for help. You will be able to get help around the house if you look around. 

This means yes, expect chaos, don’t worry about doing any of the housework yourself. Be sure to delegate those tasks while you are attempting to get as much sleep as possible while caring for your baby. 

3. Co-Sleeping Is An Option

There are concerns about co-sleeping. However, it is safe to put the bassinet in the parents’ room right next to the bed. And this way, when the baby cries, the parents will still wake up to feed the baby. However, they will not have to physically go to the nursery to get the baby. This will help them retain more energy.

When the baby cries, the parents can just pick the baby up right next to their bedside and give the baby a feeding whether the mom is nursing or the baby is being bottle-fed. With that said, it is a good idea to get a portable fridge and a bottle warmer in the bedroom to reduce the need to walk to the kitchen from the bedroom. 

The Truth About Sleep Deprivation and New Parents

If new parents can accept the fact that they will be sleep-deprived and are aware of what can happen if sleep debt builds up too much, then they will be prepared on how to maximize the rest that they will need. That means they will need to start taking naps, start delegating, accepting that life with a baby will be chaotic. This will help reduce the effects of sleep deprivation. And they must also remember that it will not last forever. 

From personal experience, as time goes by it does get easier for mothers. As time passes, your baby grows and the sleep gets easier. Your child will become more easy to handle and the whole experience will become more comforting and enjoyable. The only thing that you can do for now is take in those tips and enjoy the little things, like the cute memories, shopping for trendy baby clothes and meeting up with your new-found mommy friends. Most importantly relax and take in the memories and fun.

TheMomKind

Alicia Trautwein is an autism parenting coach living in Missouri. She is the creator behind The Mom Kind, a website dedicated to parenting neurodiverse families.  She is featured in the "Amazing Moms" coffee table book by Hogan Hilling & Dr. Elise Ho.  She shares her expertise along with her experience in parenting children, both with and without autism.

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