The most logical first step is to set up your sleep environment to make attending to baby through the night as easy as possible.
5) Calm your mind when you wake up. Do whatever you have to do to resettle baby, and while you’re at it, eliminate negative self-talk. This can take practice. If you’re feeding baby for the 5th time since you came to bed, it’s very easy to let the nasty chatter start:
“Why is he feeding again? This baby will NEVER sleep through! I can’t stand it any longer!”
If these thoughts enter your head, simply acknowledge them and then let them pass. They’re not helpful, in fact, many of them can be harmful. Label them as such.
If you were dreaming before waking, try to stay in your dream. Let your mind drift there.
If you weren’t dreaming, or can’t remember, try block breathing – in for 4 counts, out for 4 counts. This helps to relax your body and enter a mediative state, ideal for drifting back into slumber.
If your mind is already alert, try to send it to a place free from anxiety and stress. I find a memory slideshow to be useful – think back to an overseas holiday you took before you had children. Run the random details through your mind – the breakfast buffet, the smell of the hotel lobby, what you wore out to dinner…
6) Practice acceptance. It sounds so simple, but it is such a powerful tool. We tend to have this bizarre idea that because we made the baby, we should be able to control him. But we can’t. At all. Our baby is a human being, unique and individual. And, although he is fairly basic and helpless, he still has his own drives that are his alone. When your baby wakes at night, rather than feeling angry or frustrated, just accept it and move forward. He’s already awake, it has already happened. So face it, deal with it and go beyond it. When we fight things that are out of our control, it is a losing battle.
Again, this takes practice. And patience. And grace. If you have spent months, or even weeks, fighting against your baby’s sleep, then it is hard to suddenly just shrug it off and feel accepting. But as they say, practice makes perfect. Just try it for a day. Pander to your baby’s needs. If you need a break, take one, it’s OK. If you feel yourself getting mad, or frustrated, then allow those emotions to rush through you and then pass. It’s not helpful to pretend you’re OK with a situation, when you aren’t, but feeling those feelings is the first step towards overcoming them.
Finally, keep in mind that this will come easier to some people than it will to others. And that there will be times where, despite having fabulous sleep efficiency, your baby will go through an unsettled period and you will wake up in the morning feeling less than refreshed.
But when it comes down to it, it’s worth considering that the secret to better sleep can lie with you, rather than your baby. As parents we always say we will do anything for our little ones, so taking a few steps to try and improve our own habits, so that we don’t have to interfere with theirs, seems like a small investment.
So give it a try – make a conscious effort to implement all, or even just some, of the above steps. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much more rested you will feel.
Originally published HERE.
Georgina is a mother, midwife and international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) from Australia. She is passionate about supporting and empowering parents to care for their babies instinctually and responsively, while also blogging and writing about her own journey of motherhood.