After nine months of carrying a little human in your tummy, here you are, finally, in a life-changing moment of holding your baby. But the change doesn't stop there.
Your body slowly adjusts to the fact that's it's just you now, sans your child, and all the changes that happened – the innate manufacturing of a healthy environment for that tiny bun in the oven – slowly reverts.
What to expect after expecting? The temporary post-delivery body, and the lack of sleep.
At 2 am, you might find yourself still wide awake, adoring your child, affectionately touching his skin or taking pictures to post on your Instagram. You might be responding to the comments past 4 am when you should be tucked in bed, in your comfy silk pyjamas, and dreaming away. But you can't settle down. There must be something wrong with your body.
You are not alone. The National Sleep Foundation, after running a poll, has found that 76% of new parents have frequent sleep problems. For mums, one factor is the major change of hormones after giving birth. As the body slowly twitches to get back to its normal routine, your glands and nerves are working overtime, which might keep you awake.
Another reason: your baby's sleep patterns. In the first three months, your new-born child spends 50 to 80 percent of REM, with a sleep cycle that runs within 50 minutes. That means they wake up easily, sleeping only within four hours. And when the baby is awake, so are you.
While it is nice to respond to any nudges of mother's instincts, too less of a sleep and this may lead to mom-somnia. How to battle this? Here are some tips.
Can't sleep at night? Sleep in the day. Compensate on the snoozes you must have missed while watching over your baby. When you're bereft of sleep and finally gets a chance to doze off, the brain makes up for the loss by slipping into deep REM sleep instead of shallower sleep stages. A two or three-hour nap during weekends is healthy.
Stop, drop and rest. If sleep won't come to you just when you need it, then let your body recuperate by laying still on your bed. Put your feet up, plump your pillows, stay off your gadgets. No, don’t pressure yourself to fall asleep – this may keep you more awake. A restorative rest will help replenish the energy you lost from doing your chores.
Get cosy in a nursery. Take naptimes with your baby! As sleeping with the baby in bed may not be exactly safe – and running back and forth from the room to the crib might wear you out – the best you can do is install a nice couch in the nursery so you can sleep when your child does.
Indulge in natural remedies. Aromatherapy helps calm down your anxiety. Fragrances like lavender stimulates the olfactory system and promotes better sleep. A dab of these oils on your pillow can do the trick; alternatively, you can fill the room with the warm scent from an aromatic candle so you can have a peaceful slumber.
Stretch out those stretch marks. Exercise may not be the one thing you'd want to do, especially when you're tired. However, adding this to your routine can uplift your mood, help you get back to shape, and give you a longer, deeper sleep once you hit the sack. Try breathing exercises; 5-10 minutes of deep breathing will calm your woes and refresh your soul.
Limit your responsibilities. Women are created to multitask, but not without reasonable sleep. Lay off extra assignments when you can, quit downing that extra cup of caffeine, and focus on doable tasks within your current capabilities.
Task someone with the midnight feeding. The consequence of round-the-clock monitoring is fragmented sleep, which is a potential symptom for depression and chronic health issues. As a mum, you want to stay healthy for your family – what you can do is trade off feeding times, especially at night. Nursing mums can pump milk ahead of time and get a good night's sleep while another person attends to the baby's needs.
Listen to the baby's rhythm. The first three to four months is when your baby's sleep patterns are determined by needs – usually at random. The best way to cope is to accept this fact. Luckily, this won't last forever; as your child gets older, they will sleep for longer stretches.
Seek help. When sleep becomes a distant dream, it’s time to consult a doctor. There may be changes in your body that require much attention other than a slumber. Arrest these symptoms at once so you can get back to your feet – and to your family – in a healthier, happier state.
Being a new mum doesn’t mean no sleeping. As your body slowly adjusts to this new lifestyle, you can explore ways on how to regain your health, and sleep, back to normal.