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October 2010
Sleep Deprived New Mother
Anju Poddar
Although the birth of a child is a joyous event, new mothers are taken aback by how exhausting they feel during the first few weeks and months. Every mother knows this – a new baby heralds long and sleepless nights! The good news is, that after a month or so, your baby will learn to sleep on his/her own.

Meanwhile here are a few basics and helpful tips to keep in mind, to survive that first month, when a good night’s sleep is a luxury:

Nap: When the baby naps, you nap and when the baby sleeps, you sleep. Resist the urge to catch up on household chores or other things to do, while your baby is asleep. Especially avoid trying to peek at the clock; set an alarm or ask someone to wake you up. Create a relaxing environment with comfortable pillows/bed, low lights and light music, with perfect room temperature, because before you know it, your bundle of stressful joy will be wide awake, seeking your attention!

Get as much help as you can; ask for help. Ask the closest person in your life: mother, sister, best friend or even your husband. They will take over watching the baby, while you grab a few minutes or an hour of sleep.

Try meditation as a relaxation technique, as it involves certain postures that induce the mind to get into a relaxed state. It also helps improve the quality of your sleep. You can learn how to meditate from a trained instructor or from a good meditation CD.

Energy: Pranayam and other breathing exercises oxygenate the body and give you more energy.

Exercise: Ask a doctor if it’s all right for you to start exercising. Avoid exercising before sleeping as the physiological stimulation disturbs the sleep process.

Diet: A diet high in protein, fibre and essential vitamins, is important to increase energy levels naturally. Avoid starchy foods and artificial sugar; go for fruits. Eating potatoes is better than rice. Have small meals at shorter intervals, to keep energy levels up.

Hydrate: Hydrate your body by drinking lots of fluids: water, juices, coconut water, etc. They help your body eliminate toxins out of your stomach. Avoid coffee and other caffeinated drinks.

Intoxicators: Avoid alcohol, smoking cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, etc, as they are stimulants and also very harmful for you and you baby (especially if you are still breastfeeding).

If you are breastfeeding, you might decide to use bottles filled with expressed breast milk at night, in order to get few hours of good rest.

Biological Clock: In the beginning, your baby’s biological clock is still not set to the daily clock and needs time to develop. Cues like letting light in the baby’s room in the morning, dimming the lights in the room in the evening, maintaining a regular feeding schedule etc, should help coordinate your baby’s biological clock.

Roommate: Room-in with your baby while your baby is still very young, as it saves you from making frequent trips to and fro, between your room and the baby’s, and also helps keep a check on the baby.

Visitors: Limit the number of visitors in the first month, as tending to them will be an added chore for you. Also your baby will catch illness easily in the first month.

House-Help: Hire a weekly house cleaning service or fix a house-help to help you with your household work. Many times, grandparents would love to be asked for help, as it gives them more time to spend with the baby – so ask your mother, if she would like to babysit, while you take care of household work.

De-Stress: Make a conscious effort to de-stress on a regular basis. It could be anything from cooking to reading a book to simply listening to music.

Feed: If you are using formula feeds, have a bottle of room temperature water and powder formula next to your baby’s crib. In fact, pre-filling several sterilised milk bottles with powdered formula saves you time. Avoid nightmare trips to and fro between the kitchen and your baby, to conserve your energy.

Massage: Today many doctors advise against massages for the mother during the first one month, as harsh massages may cause harm. But, a gentle massage and a bath before sleeping, is very helpful. Do consult your doctor before opting for a massage for yourself and especially for your baby.

Remember that one of the fundamentals of good parenting is, to take good care of yourself, so that you can take good care of your baby.
Anju Poddar is a successful home maker fascinated by Hindu traditions and festivals. she has authored four well received books, the latest being Meals, Menus & More

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