Very little sleep and a tired, weary new mum; how was I supposed to know what to do? After all there is no 'rule' book! TalkMum blogger Sonia tells us about her experience of sleep and the first week with her newborn.
You can't beat those first precious moments when you take your newborn home and you suddenly realise that you are now responsible for that little life. There are no rule books or anyone who can show you what your baby wants specifically - because they are all different. I remember that feeling vividly and more so in regards to the first evening that we had with Noah at home.
The first 48 hours post birth were spent in the hospital because I needed to rest after the delivery and Noah needed some attention in his first few hours of life on earth. This meant I was in the best place when I needed something or wanted to know what was going on. I got plenty of sleep as Noah was a great little sleeper for those 48 hours - this may have been a result of the drugs I took whilst giving birth; I am not 100% sure. He was feeding from me perfectly and was happy to be held - I was just besotted. But the fun was to start when we got home!
The first night, I think I had about 3 hours sleep all in all. Every time I fed Noah he would end up snoozing on me, I think I effectively became his new pillow and dummy. But this meant that every time I got up to put him in his moses basket he would wake up and not be happy in the slightest and scream the house down for hours.
This happened all night and also the next night too, so we were now well into day 5 of Noah’s little life and mummy was very tired and I am sure Noah wasn’t particularly happy about it either! Strangely however he did sleep rather well during the day – they do say that babies are born with the night and day reversed. So they are more awake at night time and sleep during the day and part of the new routine is to try and get them to sleep at night instead. But how do I get Noah to sleep at all during the night time, regardless of the fact he slept during the day?
It wasn’t until I had a phone conversation with my mum on day 5 and my mum said to me “after feeding him, are you winding him?” Well the answer was simply no. No one had told me that’s what I had to do, no one explained that winding was a part of baby’s life right from the word go and it had not even occurred to me all those early hours of the morning that this is what I needed to do. After each feed with Noah from then, I would wind him (even if he had started to snooze) and make sure that he was comfortable and sure enough he started to let me put him to bed in his moses basket.
I soon got Noah and myself into a healthy 4 hour routine throughout the day and night. He would feed every 4 hours, be awake for some of the time and sleep for some of the time - it was such a great feeling again. I no longer felt like I was failing him or doing anything wrong, I was getting sleep so I wasn’t as emotional and things started to look up.
At 6 weeks, after increasing feeds, introducing formula and expressing into bottles he started sleeping 7pm until 7am and ever since that 6th week he has been the same. He is a great little sleeper and I feel very lucky that he does sleep well.
I still tell myself off for that first week and that I did not wind him, but what can you do when you just don’t know?
So what would I advise?
My advice for mums and dads coming home for that first time with their babies, is to make sure that you are comfortable and confident with what a baby needs from you; winding after feeds being my major piece of advice!
But also to make sure that as mum, you do get rest and you do get sleep.
Most importantly, if you are not sure about something you ask. It doesn’t matter who; your mum, your mother-in-law, your midwife, your best friend; just make sure that if you are feeling the stress of a non-sleeping baby and tiredness in yourself that you speak to someone. Because it might just be that the person you confide in will hold the key to happiness; like with my mum asking if I had winded Noah.