Just when you thought you could never get more tired than you were during pregnancy (randomly nodding off mid-conversation, anyone?), along comes motherhood and a whole new level of exhaustion. It’s no wonder the term “mombie” has been coined to describe this period of life. There are days you really do feel like the walking dead.
That’s the bad news… but there’s some good news too. Not only do you get lots of cuddles in with that tiny human you created, but there are ways you can sneak in sleep. Take it from a mom who knows. My kids are 5 and 4, and I still rely on these tricks.
1. Banish caffeine
I realize this sounds counterintuitive; you’re probably so tired you feel as though you can’t function without a cup pot of coffee. What you probably don’t realize, though, is you could very well be sabotaging yourself right out of slumber. Depending on your sensitivity to caffeine, drinking even one cup might wire you well into the night, meaning you won’t be ready for your head to hit the pillow in the event you have an unexpected window for sleep.
2. Ask for help
That whole supermom instinct kicks in before the baby is even born, so it’s no surprise moms feel like they should be able to handle it all when they’re struggling through sleepless nights with a new baby. Your friends and family want to help, though. They are ready and willing to pitch in however they can. Sometimes that means keeping an eye on the baby while you take a shower. Other times, it means helping out around the house so you and baby can squeeze in a nap together. Don’t be afraid or feel too proud to ask for a hand.
3. Take a night off
If you’re breastfeeding, this can be tricky — you need to wait until your milk comes in before you give this a try. When you feel confident yours is coming in regularly, though, you can pump a bottle or two of milk for middle-of-the-night feedings. That way, you can get some relief by handing off night-feeding duty to your partner so you can get some much-needed rest. At first, your breasts may feel achy from skipping a feeding, but your body will adapt over time.
4. Figure out what relaxes you
There’s a unique (and awful) phenomenon that happens when you are a new mom: you’re bone-tired but somehow still can’t fall asleep. Your mind and body are on high alert because, hey, you’ve got an adorable (and needy) bundle of joy to take care of. But you know you’re much more equipped to take care of your family when you’ve had some shut-eye. Take the time to find your own magic formula for relaxation — whether that means a long soak in a hot bubble bath or an eye mask and white noise machine.
5. Learn to say no
Women are hardwired to want to do everything for everyone — often at the expense of their own well-being. There’s never a better time to learn to turn down added responsibility then right now, when you’re a new mom. You have enough on your plate; you don’t need to add anything else to the menu. Just think of it this way — any time someone asks you to do something, that thing will take the place of a much-needed nap. That should make saying no a lot easier.
6. Focus on the future
Do these early sleep-deprived days kind of suck? Oh, yes indeed. If you’re anything like me, Mama likes her sleep! You know what, though? You’ll blink and your baby won’t be a baby anymore. They’ll no longer have that new baby smell on the top of their sweet head. They won’t take a bottle or breast. And they’ll start sleeping through the night. As the expression goes, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Try to remember that when you feel like you just can’t take one more sleepless night, and it might make the fatigue a bit more bearable.
7. Talk to your doctor
If you still can’t seem to get any shut-eye, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Your body and brain need sleep to function properly, which is pretty crucial when you’re taking care of your baby. Your doctor can rule out any underlying issues that could be causing your sleeplessness or even prescribe you with a gentle sleep aid so you can get some well-deserved rest.