Hi friends! Meet baby London, the sweetest newborn on the planet. And welcome to my blog. I’ve never done this before, so you’ll have to bear with me as I work out the kinks and figure out how to do this. What I DO know how to do though, is get babies to sleep well. So I’m here to document my own journey, in as much detail as possible, so you can see what sleep training looks like from the beginning. I want mamas out there to get a realistic look into how to establish healthy sleep patterns and how to deal with the millions of wrenches our little nuggets throw into the mix.
I’m a sleep specialist and this is my third child so part of me feels like a pro at this, and the other part of me feels like a total novice. I think that’s what being a new mom does to you. I’ve been amazed by how much I second guess myself. So, new mama, if you’re second guessing your every move too, welcome to the club. I’m sure you’re doing fine.
If you haven’t already, download my FREE newborn sleep guide. I called it “Get Awesome Newborn Sleep” but now having a newborn of my own again I realize a more accurate name would have been “How to make your sleep with a newborn slightly less sh*tty.” But alas, I’m only a week into this thing so it’s bound to get better. Right? RIGHT??
Holy cow, I can’t believe it’s only been a week. I feel like this tiny human has been a part of our lives for way, way longer. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten like 3 hours of sleep a night though, so every day feels like more.
My two main priorities right out of the gate were orienting day/night and getting full feedings.
For the love of all that is holy, we DO NOT want wakeful periods at night. It’s hard enough that we have to get up so often to feed them. When it takes an hour or two for them to fall back to sleep it’s extra painful. I had two terrible nights this week. Well, actually, I had mostly terrible nights this week. Let’s start off with the hospital—hi, I just had a baby and my sleep is going to be crap for weeks. Can you please not come in every 2 hours and wake me up? But I had all that extra adrenaline from just having a baby and I got to take naps during the day so I survived. But then I got home to two other small children and the whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” advice can just go right out the window. Then, aside from that, I had 1 night this week where she was up for over an hour after I fed her and wasn’t falling back to sleep (gas, maybe??) and then one night I woke up because I thought my boobs were going to explode and I couldn’t go back to sleep until I pumped. She slept great that night. Me? Not so much.
Orienting day/night was challenging this week. It’s so hard for me to wake a sleeping baby and I wanted to kind of figure out what her natural routine was before I started intervening. I made the mistake with my first of wanting too much awake time during the day (so she’d sleep at night) that I was inadvertently making her over tired. I still haven’t found the right balance of day time wakefulness because this week she’s had about 30-60 minutes of wakeful/stirring time before she falls back to sleep. (Again, maybe gas?) Ideally, I want her to finish nursing and go straight back to sleep. We’ll keep working on it.
My plan for next week?
- Focus on getting good awake time after each feeding during the day.
- Keep things bright and noisy during daytime naps. Keep finding the balance of getting enough wakeful time during the day without making her over-tired. Newborns sleep 16-20 hours a day (which is a pretty wide range) so I’m going to keep trying to figure out how much awake time she needs for optimal sleep. PS as a general rule, newborns shouldn’t have wakeful stretches longer than 1 or 2 hours.
Try to get a full feeding every time.
This is hard because their sleep pressure is STRONG. It feels nearly impossible to keep them awake to keep eating, but we want them to nurse for as long as possible to promote milk production and get longer stretches of sleep. In the hospital, they told me to try to get 10-15 minutes per side. In my experience, it takes 20+ minutes per side for a good, full feeding. A feeding session at night usually takes me an hour, including burping, changing her diaper, etc.
But ahhh! My boobs are KILLING me. Why is nursing so painful?! I know it’ll get better but, ouch. The latch is good, this is just part of the process for me. My milk comes in fast and furious, so plugged ducts and mastitis are something I have to be SUPER diligent about. I’ve started pumping every night before bed to get rid of the excess so I don’t explode. With my first, I was told not to pump because my body needed to regulate… But I’m choosing to pump the excess this time because I’d rather have to need to pump every night than get mastitis. Also, nipple shields, nipple cream and soothies can heal sore, cracked nipples and give a little relief from the intensity of nursing in the beginning.
Other priorities week 1:
- Focus on getting to know your baby. Play detective. Figure out what her little nuances are and tune in (as much as possible) to what different things mean. But try not to let the second guessing go overboard and stress you out.
- Day 3 and 4 baby was MAD about something. Gas? Reflux? Allergy? Who knows!? Is she arching her head back and crying during or right after nursing? Does she cry when she spits up? Both of those could be indicators of reflux. Does she cry before she burps? An indicator of painful gas. Her spit up was chunky and curtled, which sounds like it could be reflux or an allergy to something I’m eating. The doc guessed maybe meconium plugs (slight constipation if the meconium didn’t all clear out in those first poops) and next he said to try cutting out dairy. Luckily her next poop had little balls of meconium in them and she was a happy camper. So no need to cut dairy! Pfew.
- Take care of yourself. It’s alllll too easy to neglect yourself when you have a baby. You have all this adrenaline from having a new baby and you don’t feel as exhausted as you really are. You may have visitors there to help out but you might feel guilty letting them do things for you that you CAN do yourself. Sit down, snuggle your baby and let people wait on you. Say yes to offers for meals from friends. Don’t feel like you have to entertain your guests. Take care of yourself. Take naps if you can. Cry if you need to. Take medication if it helps.
I’ve heard way too many moms tell me they think they had post-partum depression but didn’t realize it until after the fact. Pay attention to yourself and your emotions. Medication is SOOOO helpful and it doesn’t mean you’re broken or crazy. Do what you need to feel happy and feel like yourself. Self-care isn’t selfish.
More about post-partum depression here:
Most days this week look like this:
- Wake up around 8:30am
- Nap on and off inconsistently throughout the day
- 9/9:30 last feeding and then bed
- 1am wake up to eat
- 4:30 wake up to eat
All in all, we’re off to a good start. She consistently sleeps 3-3 ½ hours between feedings but I’m counting down the days until we can get longer stretches. Mama is tired!!