Sleep. It's the hot topic whenever parents of infants gather - how long is your baby sleeping? How much sleep are you getting? Whatever those numbers are, it's never enough. And the advice about sleep can be laughable: "Sleep when the baby sleeps? What about wanting to shower or eat something more than a handful of almonds or needing to care for my non-napping older child?" Plus, advice about creating good sleep hygiene (habits and environment that promote sleep) just doesn't usually work for new parents: "reserve the bed just for sleep or sex - what about breastfeeding, or changing a diaper, or rough-housing with your toddler?" So, if you need more ideas for how to actually get to sleep or stay asleep with a new baby, read on.
First off, prioritize sleep. Doula and life coach, Maria Dolorico of A Mom is Born recently wrote about this need to make sure you "sleep any way and any time you can." It really can make a world of difference to your mood to get a stretch of a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. If you have, are at risk of, or wonder about postpartum emotional complications (anxiety, depression, OCD, adjustment stress), then it's even more important to make sure you're sleeping. And for an excellent discussion about sleep management, breastfeeding, and postpartum depression, please see these two posts on Postpartum Progress.
Here are my tips* for sleeping:
If it’s been more than 24 hours since you last slept, or you find yourself consistently unable to sleep when the baby is sleeping because of fear, worry, or sadness, please talk to someone: your OB or midwife, or your child’s pediatrician are good first calls to make. You can also contact Postpartum Support International for help finding a specialized therapist.
*The "advice" caveat: I'm just another person on the internet making suggestions. Take what works for you, and leave the rest. And when you can, try to tune into what you think will help you. In the meantime, I hope this helps you get some more rest! Feel free to share strategies that helped you get through the worst of the sleep deprivation in the comments.