New mum worries: “I’m having trouble sleeping when the baby sleeps”

Posted in Sleeping.

One of the most common pieces of advice new parents receive is the adage “sleep when the baby sleeps” but one exhausted mum has asked the question many others have wanted to. How exactly do you do that?

“I’m having trouble sleeping when the baby sleeps”

“I have survived week one with my little one but I gotta say I am so so tired,” this mum writes on the Reddit Bump and Beyond board.

“Baby has a bit of trouble sleeping during the day but at night he’s been sleeping 3 hour stretches. The problem is I’m having trouble sleeping when the baby sleeps.”

“I usually go to bed a bit earlier than the hubs to get my first stretch of 3 hours and when I wake up to feed I am wide awake and have trouble going down again,” this mum continues.

“I’ve tried to nap during the day while hubs watches the baby but even then, my mind is racing and I can’t get myself to sleep.”

“I don’t feel too anxious but I think it may be an underlining anxiety that might be keeping me awake. Anyone else struggled with this with a newborn and any tips on how to get yourself to fall asleep after feedings?”

“It’s not just you”

It’s pretty heartbreaking but also a pretty typical illustration of how much pressure new mums feel to do everything ‘right’ and by the book – and how exhausting this huge adjustment can be.

Other mums were quick to chime in and reassure this newbie that she was doing okay.

“First, it’s not just you,” one parent posted in response. “People say this all the time, but don’t mention how hard it is to actually do! My best naps in the first few weeks were when husband took the baby on a walk around the neighborhood. It allowed me to feel free of the responsibility and actually relax. It gets easier!”

“I always found that expression to be very unhelpful,” another mum wrote. “Unfortunately, I was always a little anxious about how long my daughter’s naps would be so I would never be able to sleep. I just got by on a little sleep deprivation.”

“The whole ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ is the most worthless advice ever,” someone else declared.

Reddit post

Alternative strategies

Other mums had plenty of advice on ways to relax, wind down and catch up on some rest, even if it doesn’t translate to sleep.

“When I have an opportunity to relax during the day (I have to use a lot of nap times to get chores done too) I don’t pressure myself to sleep,” one mum commented. “I just lay with my eye closed and enjoy the quiet. Sometimes I drift off, sometimes I don’t, but I find that pressuring myself to sleep is a guaranteed way to not fall asleep.”

“I’m not sure if this would help you, but I listen to audiobooks, podcasts or guided meditation,” another helpful parent explained. “Really focusing on what is being said makes it so I can ignore my thoughts and I generally fall asleep pretty quick.”

“An eye mask and … app for nature sounds,” someone else suggested. “Try not to stress yourself even more by thinking ‘arghhhh I’m not sleeping!’ instead think ‘this is a nice relaxing lay down’ and just let your thoughts drift away.”

“A rest is not as good as a sleep but it’s much better than nothing and may lead to sleep later.”

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