Couples experience a lot of changes in their lives during pregnancy, ranging from obvious physical changes to emotional changes and changes in thought patterns. These changes are necessary to prepare you to become parents and help you adapt to the lifetime responsibility and commitment you have made.
One of the more distressing changes experienced by expectant couples is adapting to very different sleep patterns. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can be linked to various medical problems e.g. high blood pressure and loss of concentration. It can also be associated with long-term insomnia.
Having a newborn baby in the house will definitely interrupt your sleep patterns. By being informed and prepared, you can limit the effect on you and your partner. Your baby's circadian rhythm (body clock) is not yet established and by making a few easy changes, you can prevent or minimise sleep challenges.
Tips to help you sleep:
A new baby in the house is the responsibility of both parents, take turns to assist each other so you both get a few hours undisturbed sleep.
- Adapt your routine and try to sleep when the baby sleeps
- Ask family and friends for help
- Have 'visiting hours' when friends and family can visit that suit your routine
- Put your phone on silent and relax whenever you can
- Do not fall into the trap of rushing back into your pre-baby schedule of shopping, cooking, cleaning etc.
- Rest and recover completely and take time to adjust and bond with your baby
- Set a night-time routine and teach your baby to self-soothe, instead of forming a habit where he/she must be held, rocked or fed in order to fall asleep
- Put baby down while awake but drowsy
- Look out for sleep signals e.g. rubbing the eyes, yawning, etc.
- Make sure your baby is adequately hydrated. Babies can lose a lot of water on hot summer days and dehydration can cause a baby to fuss and not settle down
- Ensure a safe sleeping position i.e. on the back or side but not on the tummy
- Try not to push sleep time, aim to gradually make bedtime earlier to increase the sleep cycle
- Do not make eye contact with your baby during the night as this speeds up his/her heart rate, raises blood pressure and makes baby more awake
- Make a lot of eye contact during the day as this will not only stimulate brain development and bonding, but also encourage baby to be more awake during the day