This is an elaboration of my post on instagram (natalie.naturopath) with my top tips on coping with sleep deprivation related to new babies.
My sweet baby makes me smile.
But sometimes I also feel trapped! Particularly if I haven't had enough me time or haven't slept enough the night before. I breastfeed and that's what I've chosen. This means I know I've signed up for a lot of broken-sleep nights (though I know bottle-feeding families battle with many of the same issues too!) . I do really wish it would be as easy as "roll-over-feed-sleep-repeat" but there's many a night of fussing and inconsolability in the wee hours that have me or my husband vertical when we were wishing we were horizontal.
For those moms struggling with sleep deprivation (in babies under 6 months), here's what I try to do to get through the roughest patches: 1) remember that nothing is permanent - especially with babies, those habits, routines and patterns are always changing 2) if I want my baby to have a routine (regular naps for example), I need to patiently try and try again to set us up for that - such as predictable "bed times" and using some consistent cues. Other sleep tips include having baby sleep in a dark room (get blackout blinds!), having quiet time before sleep, and putting baby to bed before getting overtired. Sleep trainers can coach you through gentle sleep training methods once your baby is over 6 months and gaining weight well. 3) everything seems 100x worse when sleep deprived - wait until one more night passes (and see above notes about sleep habits and sleep training) 4) vitamin B complex is my friend and can give me an extra boost of energy naturally - I take an extra one on the really draining days 5) be kind to myself and take some time for me - ask someone else to watch the baby so I can do whatever I need (maybe take a walk or nap, maybe go for a run or a swim if my mood needs some lifting) .
6) acupuncture: an amazing way to boost your qi (energy) or yin (substance - particularly common in "drained" moms, especially those who are breastfeeding!) - if you've never tried it, come see me for a very gentle introduction to this practice of traditional chinese medicine.
7) adaptogens: I will elaborate on these in another post, but let's just say your poor adrenal glands are pretty exhausted by now (think: the producers of cortisol - that miracle hormone that we fall back on for energy when we are complete sleepless zombies!) and adaptogen herbs can help to restore your body's energy - herbs like licorice, rhodiola and holy basil are some of my favourites. I love to make personalized tinctures and teas for my patients that include precisely the herbs their bodies need. Still breastfeeding? No worries - we can choose herbs and doses that are perfectly safe for you and your little one.
8) make sure you aren't battling anything more serious: mama fatigue is real period - but if you're also fighting iron deficiency or an undiscovered case of postpartum thyroiditis or autoimmune condition, your fatigue may be all the more intense. We can do lab work to rule out any of these possibilities and treat any nutritional deficiencies or conditions we discover.
For more personalized tips:
Let's work together! I'm happy to see you at my clinic in the Annex in downtown Toronto. We can work towards your specific goals and help you maximize enjoyment of your new family.