You’ve spent the last weeks of pregnancy getting the worst sleep of your life. It takes forever to fall asleep, you have to get up to pee every couple of hours, and no position is comfortable for very long. Birth will make it all better, right? Wrong! You discovered that your newborn won’t sleep at night!
Will you ever sleep again?
The short answer is: yes. You definitely will be able to sleep through the night again.
When that will happen is not cut and dried.
Let’s first define what “sleep through the night” means. Officially the term means a period of 5 hours. So, your baby may go to sleep at 9pm and wake up at 2am. This is considered “through the night”.
Not for you, though!
Most parents are hoping for at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, preferably starting between 10pm and midnight. This will feel the most like normal sleep. Heck; it WILL be normal sleep! And, with this kind of sleep, most parents will feel fully functional during the days.
This, however, is just not going to happen in the immediate postpartum period. And it may take many months for some babies to get to a place where sleeping for long periods is possible.
When and whether this happens for your baby is dependent on a number of factors.
- Was your baby born at term or were they premature. Some babies born early make need more time for their nervous system to mature and long night sleeps to become safe.
- Is feeding going well? A baby who has a full tummy at night will be more able to sleep well. But the trick of adding formula to help a baby sleep better is a myth. A full belly of breastmilk is going to be equally effective in promoting sleep.
- Are there sleep routines in place? Babies are incredibly adaptable and flexible but creating and maintaining sleep routines is the most effective way to help a baby become a great night sleeper.
- How old is baby? If your baby is one month old or less it’s unlikely they will sleep for very long periods. Babies who are approaching 3 months are more and more able to sleep or longer periods. Sometimes we need to adjust our expectations and ride out the rough periods.
- Growth spurts mess everything up. Babies sleep very poorly when they are going through growth spurts. And, babies go through a lot of them! Your baby might be a really good sleeper outside of these times of incredible brain development.
It’s horribly frustrating to not be able to sleep. It wears down your resilience making it easier to get sick, lose your temper and feel like a failure. If this is you consider a night nanny. This specially trained postpartum doula will come to your home and help care for your baby so that you get the best sleep possible.
And we all know how great it feels to get a good rest!