New moms need all of their sleep

Published 12:05am Friday, March 1, 2013

Sleepless and in love …You couldn’t be happier with your adorable new baby — cherishing every moment you look into those beautiful eyes, hear those satisfied gurgles … If only you weren’t so completely exhausted.

As a parent with a newborn, getting enough sleep can be a challenge. In recognition of the National Sleep Foundation’s National Sleep Awareness Week — beginning Sunday — CuddleBugs at Natchez Community Hospital would like to share some tips to help you get proper rest and offer recommendations to help keep your baby safe while he or she is sleeping.

Most parents have trouble getting enough sleep with a new baby at home. Most newborns sleep nearly 16 hours a day, but it’s only for a few hours at a time. Although there may be no set pattern at first, your baby will develop a more consistent sleep schedule as he or she matures and can go longer between feedings. In the meantime, you have to sleep whenever you can — which can be challenging. Try these tips to get the rest you need:

Make sleep a priority. Sleep is much more important than clean dishes and floors, or returning that call. When your baby is sleeping, take that time to get some sleep yourself. At the very least, get off your feet or do something relaxing.

Take turns with your spouse for nighttime feeding or changing if possible. If you’re breastfeeding, use a breast pump so there are bottles on hand, or simply have your spouse share nighttime changing duties.

Ask a trusted friend or family member to watch the baby so you can rest, or to help with other things such as preparing meals, running errands or doing household chores. Make it a “trade,” and offer to return the favor. If you’re not comfortable asking someone, consider hiring someone to help with the cleaning to lighten your load.

Keep visits with others short. When friends or family members want to visit, don’t feel obligated to entertain — now isn’t the time to be the gracious hostess. Let them know beforehand how much time you have so they’ll know what to expect.

Acknowledge that this is only temporary. Rest assured, getting a good night’s sleep is just around the corner.

At 3-4 months of age, many babies sleep five hours at a time, and at 6 months it’s possible for babies to sleep through the night. Every baby is different, but know that things will improve soon.

Knowing your baby is safe while he or she sleeps can help you rest a little easier as well.

You can lower the risk of sleep-related injuries and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by creating a safe sleeping environment for your baby. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development recommends the following:

Always place your baby on his or her back for sleep — both during naps or at night. This is the No. 1 way to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Place your baby on a firm sleep surface, never on a pillow, quilt, sheepskin or other soft surface.

Keep soft objects, toys and loose bedding out of your baby’s sleep area — that includes pillows, blankets, quilts, sheepskins, infant sleep positioners, or pillow-like bumpers. Dress your baby in a one-piece sleeper instead of using a blanket.

Keep your baby’s sleep area separate from where you or others sleep, such as a crib, bassinet or bedside co-sleeper.

It may be tempting to allow your baby to sleep with you, but it’s not safe.

Don’t let your baby get too hot during sleep. Use light sleep clothing and keep the room at a temperature that’s comfortable for an adult.

Make sure your baby has a smoke-free environment — don’t allow anyone to smoke around your baby.

Remember, getting proper rest, and taking care of yourself is important — you need to stay healthy to be there for your baby.

By taking care of yourself and creating a safe sleeping environment for your baby, everyone will rest easier.

CuddleBugs is a free program designed to provide answers to new and expectant moms from the earliest stages of pregnancy through post-delivery — including guidance for newborn care. For more information about CuddleBugs, visit

Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information and facilitate conversations with your physician that will benefit your health.


Marie O’Neal, RN, is the director of the birthing center at Natchez Community Hospital.