Having a new addition to the family is a life changing event for the entire family. There is a lot of excitement and buzz during the hospital visits of friends and extended family coming to see your little newborn girl or boy. It is easy to get caught up in the new baby euphoria not really knowing what is about to hit you the minute the mom and baby are discharged from the hospital and you walk in through the front door of your home. Gone is the helpful hands of the 24/7 hospital nursery to take over baby watch to change and feed (if using formula) your baby. More importantly, the ability to get rest is really gone for a good long time.
New moms and dads will get very little sleep the first few months of taking care of the newborn baby. The baby requires constant feedings on the hour to a couple of hours depending upon the child. The mother will be the most exhausted if breast feeding as there apparently is no real break from the baby. The baby also needs constant diaper changing, burping, and occasionally rocking or soothing to settle their nerves. Overall it seems as though the entire course of the day revolves around taking care of the baby rather than taking care of each other or yourself. It is important to put the baby’s needs first, but that doesn’t mean the parent’s should let their own health suffer due to lack of sleep or nutrition.
The key to successfully surviving horrendous sleep deprivation is for moms and dad’s to form a team. This team will take turns on every matter (except for breast feeding) that ties to the baby. If the mom is doing most of the baby nurturing due to breast feeding, the father can do a lot of tasks to help the mother get some rest here and there. First of all, dads can pitch in on doing the household chores that will tend to get neglected when the mother is busy feeding, burping, and bathing the little one. Father’s can use this time to prepare nutritious meals for the week and help the spouse keep up with the laundry. If this is not the first child in the family, the father can be a huge help by taking care of the siblings while mom is taking care of the baby. Completing these extra chores around the house will reduce some of the stress on the mother, which will allow for her to actually relax a little bit knowing things are getting taken care of.
If the baby is formula fed, the team can pretty much tackle baby duty on fifty-fifty basis. For example, the nighttime feeding schedule can be assigned to the dad getting the first half of the night and the mother gets the second half or arrange for each partner to get alternate feedings. This team effort will certainly not get either parent the required eight hours of sleep, but the shared responsibility will be critical in achieving some required rest to stave off exhaustion. Dad’s that are realizing they are not as alert at work due to sleep deprivation may want to work out a deal with their partner where they bank a few feeding turns during the week only to be paid back with extra feedings on the weekend. Whatever agreements are made, parents need to approach the baby rearing as a team and before you know it you will be soon be getting back your seven to eight hours of sleep.