This is the second part in a two part series by Postpartum Doula, LeeAnne Hamilton. Part one can be found here.
As an overnight doula I am taking care of a client's 10 day old baby boy. Mom is getting some much need rest and I am on baby duty. I love my job! Here's how our evening has gone so far.
At 11pm I arrived to a frazzled mommy and daddy. I gladly took over, rewrapped his blanket so he was cozy, not swaddled, and headed downstairs to clean the kitchen. We puttered around for an hour, he and I, doing whatever I could manage with one hand while he dozed on and off in my other arm (tomorrow I will bring a wrap)! At midnight we headed for the bedroom where he had a bottle while listening to the white noise machine play heavy rainfall with the lights lowered as much as possible. I swaddled him, gave a few more cuddles while letting the feeding settle, and placed him in his crib. I stayed in the room with him, and so he watched me move around the room for a bit and then fell right asleep, without a peep. It is now 3am, and I expect he will wake for his next feeding shortly. And please don't worry, I have read the studies, and he is not overheated resulting in a deeper sleep. He has only a light blanket to keep him cozy. I do this with him every night, and already he goes to sleep on his own, sometimes a little pat on the bum is needed, sometimes a quick cuddle, but most of the time when I time it right, he is quiet, content and happy to simply fall asleep.
Other helpful tips for getting a head start on good sleep habits?
Babies function on a 24 hour clock for about the first 6 weeks; there is not much you can do about it. But you can help them to begin to learn the difference between day and night. At night keep things dark and quiet, with the exception of your white noise. Do feedings where baby sleeps, don’t get up and turn on the lights and sit in front of a loud television....
"Let's face it, you knew when you had a baby you would not sleep for the next few years"...
How many times have I heard that phrase uttered by a frazzled mother? Each time I can't help but wonder why new moms resign themselves to the idea that part of being a mother means not sleeping? And even more-so, why they think that babies "just don't sleep"?
Sleep is vital for healthy growth of a young brain. During sleep is when your baby's brain grows and develops, processes new information, and files and stores that information into memory. During sleep is when your baby's body and brain restores itself from the activity of the previous day. During sleep is when YOUR body and brain restore themselves, as well as process, sort and file information. What happens when we don't get enough sleep? You accumulate all that lost sleep in what we call a sleep debt or sleep deficit.
Adults need approximately 8 hours of sleep each night. If you are getting 5 hours of sleep at night, it would take a mere 8 days for you to bank a 24 hour sleep debt. That's a whole day's worth of sleep lost! Multiply that by two or three years.....I cringe thinking about it! So what's a new parent to do?
What if I told you that it was possible to teach your baby healthy sleep habits right from birth?
What if I told you that your baby doesn't need to fall asleep sucking, bouncing, rocking, driving in the car, or secured in a baby wrap while you swing from the chandelier while singing his favourite song?
"She's Crazy"! You are all saying . . . I can hear it now, I am going to let you in on a secret . . . okay so it's not really a secret to the dozens of families I have spent many nights with as a postpartum doula . . . but you can give your newborn baby all of the cuddling, bonding, loving, singing, snuggly attention they need, and still help them learn to fall asleep on their own and sleep well for longer than 30 minutes!...