However well your baby adjusts to life outside the womb, don’t expect a full night’s sleep for a while! Although at the time it might feel as if you are going to die of exhaustion, you won’t – and there will come a day when you wake up and realise (with a shock of panic) that your baby has slept right through the night.
The best advice for coping with newborn sleeplessness is to follow our tips for training him/her to sleep (see “Sleep” in Baby Care) while you take whatever sleep you can get using these tried and tested pointers:
Sleep when baby sleeps
Resist the urge to pack everything you can into your baby’s short nap times, like house cleaning, laundry, phone calls, cooking and more. Your body needs rest too, so at least in the beginning you should try to catch those zzz’s whenever you can!
Train yourself to go to bed earlier
Your body will thank you when you when you’ve had at least a few unbroken hours before baby wakes for the first time during the night. If you are a habitual night owl, give yourself a bedtime limit – say no later than 10, no matter what.
If help is offered and you trust the source, take it! This includes giving your loved ones a chance to bond with your new bundle, accepting offers of a few meals or bundles of laundry, or having other parents help you with lifting your older kids.
Work as a team
Being a new parent is exhausting for you and your partner and it’s easy to lose patience with one another. Rather than making a competition out of Who Is Most Tired and Miserable, try to work out how you can handle things as a team. Just as each family is different, so will everyone have their own solution to sharing the load together. Bottom line: encourage each other, appreciate each other and try to see the funny side when you’re at the end your rope.