Who Needs Sleep?

Parenthood takes tired to a whole new level. As much as you have probably looked forward to meeting your baby, it can sometimes be a little different from what you had in mind. A lack of sleep certainly doesn’t help get your head around how your life will never be the same.

Sleep deprivation can make it harder to cope, especially when things aren’t going as you planned or hoped. It’s important to remember that this is normal, and it will pass. If you are struggling to cope, please talk to your midwife, child health nurse or doctor.

The effects of sleep deprivation can include:

  • Feeling grumpy, stressed or more emotional
  • Clumsiness
  • Problems communicating
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loss of appetite

Continued sleep deprivation can contribute to poor postnatal mental health and result in bonding and feeding issues with your baby (8).

Get some sleep – any sleep!

A full night’s sleep is one of the things that many new parents appreciate most after the birth of their baby. Newborn babies need to feed regularly and as a result, only sleep for a few hours at a time. Your baby will have sleep and wake pattern from when they were inside you, so after they are born, they can take a while to adjust.

Be prepared that their patterns will now be yours for a while, and until you find the balance between you sleep will be a valuable commodity. If you compromise with your baby for the first few weeks and rest when they do, then everyone will be much better rested and adjusted.

Helpful tips:

  • Get comfortable, practice slow breathing techniques to help you to relax.
  • Take a nap. When your baby sleeps during the day, make sure you do too.
  • Eat well and do some gentle exercise, like a short walk.
  • Try to cut down on caffeine, especially if you are breastfeeding.
  • Raise your relaxation hormone levels by taking a nice long bath, massage, meditation, or listening to calming music.
  • Go to bed early when possible.
  • Keep your baby close to you. Rooming-in prevents anxiety about your baby crying in a different room and can assist with bonding. Rooming-in is also one of the recommendations of the safe sleeping guidelines and is one of the ten steps for successful breastfeeding.
  • Take it as it comes. Try not to stress, as the more you worry about sleep, the less quality sleep you may get.
  • Accept help from others. Get support at home from friends or family members with washing, cooking or cleaning.

Try to relax and accept your new lifestyle. The more control you try and have over this, the more out of control it will feel. Remember this too will pass. Enjoy the special time with just you and your baby.

Karen Milner (BSc) Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife
Photo by Elnur, used under license from