My name is Louise Callear, and I am a qualified Maternity Practitioner and Gentle Baby Sleep Coach. I offer a
wide variety of packages which focus on helping parents in that fourth trimester and beyond. The most
popular topic for which I am contacted for, is most definitely sleep.
So, of course this blog will be all about just that! Let us start at the beginning, from when you bring your new
bundle home, and you are thrust into your new role as parents. It can feel so overwhelming, it can sometimes
feel like you are ushered on your way without any real guidance or real expectations of what is about to
happen in those first few months. So, what I like to call, the fourth trimester, is often the hardest part of that
new-born period and it can leave us feeling utterly exhausted and in a haze of feeding, pooping and baby sick!
It is hard to see the light at the end of that tunnel when you are in the thick of it, but it is completely normal to
feel a multitude of feelings along with sheer exhaustion, highs and lows, tears and laughter and a bunch of other stuff too.
WILL I GET ANY SLEEP IN THE FIRST FEW MONTHS?
It is important to stress that those first few weeks, the first month even, is spent getting to know your new-born baby, establishing feeding, whether that is bottle or breastfeeding, and equally as important, is resting and recovering from labour and from your own personal experience. You can absolutely say “No” to visitors in those first 2 weeks, as you are within your right to be in your bubble with you partner and your new baby. It is something that I would suggest doing as you spend your time as a family for the first time. It is such a special bonding time for you all. Soaking up all that skin to skin, laying in your bed, take naps when baby sleeps and just enjoying it.
There is a lot you can do in those first months also, which will help encourage longer periods of sleeps between feeds and which will help you get some rest and recuperation. Firstly, creating a great sleep environment and some positive sleep associations is a start. What does that entail? As your baby becomes a little older and your feeding is going well, you may start to notice that you have begun to fall into your own pattern, with similar feed times and perhaps similar sleep times even. If you are not, it’s not that you are doing anything wrong, there really is no right or wrong when it comes to being a parent, you find your own groove and what works for you. But also, what this does not have to mean, is that you are continuously surviving on the bare minimum of sleep. Sleep is indeed possible. It will of course be broken sleep as your baby will most definitely be waking for feeds in the night at this stage, but you can still get that quality rest in between those times.
Creating a good sleeping environment, so what does that involve?
Creating a good sleeping environment, so what does that involve?
- A clear and safe sleeping space in your room firstly. You do not need to fill your babies sleep space with blankets, teddies, or pillows. The Lullaby Trust is a great organisation which can offer a wide variety of information regarding safe sleeping for your baby.
Your baby should also be placed with their feet at the foot of the bed. (See below)
- Ensure your babies room is an accurate temperature for your baby to sleep well and comfortably. An ideal temperature according to the Lullaby Trust is between 16-20 Celsius.
- Try making your babies room nice and dark, in order, for your baby to sleep soundly. The reason for this is that when the room is dark, your baby will produce a small amount of melatonin which is the hormone that helps you to relax and drift off to sleep. It is not essential to have your baby sleeping in a dark room for all naps, but potentially one big afternoon snooze and your baby’s bedtime snooze.
- White noise is also an option which you can use in your babies sleep space. This is a familiar sound for new-born babies as it is said to mimic those sounds your baby heard inside of the tummy. There are many ways of introducing white noise alongside your babies sleeps, and you can choose a white noise machine or simply get a white noise app and download to your phone or device! See below some of my recommendations:
- Swaddling in those early months can help your baby sleep soundly between feeds too. Swaddling can offer that reassurance and comfort and familiar environment which your baby felt inside the uterus. Security, warmth, and safety. See my recommendations below.
When discussing sleep with those families who come to me seeking support and guidance, it is typically around 8 weeks onwards. I would always discuss creating that perfect sleep environment firstly, either by seeing it first-hand or by discussing over the phone. I will ask questions regarding your babies feeding pattern and sleeping pattern so far and how and where baby goes down to sleep. One of the most popular question I am asked is… “When is a good time to introduce a bedtime routine?” and the answer is subjective. You can start creating that sleep environment, encourage those great sleep habits from as soon as 4 weeks old if you choose. Each baby is capable of different things, sleep lengths, awake lengths, and feed amounts. I always stress that there is no, one size fits all approach. I request a complete routine/guide of what is happening during a typical day and night for your baby and I will sit and go through that information and look at what quick changes we can make firstly before getting into talk of a sleep plan. One of the fundamentals that you would look at as part of your routine and things that may make a huge difference to your current routine is those nap gaps. Also known as awake times, or awake windows, the time spent awake between your babies feed and nap times.
Often one of the causes in unsettled, fractious, and difficult babies, is overtiredness. We can get confused with just how long your baby is capable of remaining awake and we just are not given that information which is in fact one of those hugely common factors of wrongly diagnosed colic babies, when in actual fact they are extremely overtired which also presents itself in a similar way. Your baby may refuse to feed, cry for most of the time, struggle to sleep at all or for just short periods only. Your baby may just appear to be extremely difficult, when in fact, you just do not know about the sleep science behind those potential reasons, which is not your fault at all but because no one tells you any of this once you leave the hospital.
This is my focus, and my driving force behind helping those families in the fourth trimester and beyond. I will leave you fully equipped and armed with all the knowledge along with these important facts, for you to then make your own informed choice when it comes to improving your current situation. The response is always overwhelming with most parents saying they had no idea of those fundamentals and they wish they had been told when leaving the hospital….
To Be Continued……
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