Becoming parents for the first time has been a HUGE learning curve. It’s all trial and error, constantly reading articles and books, asking others’ opinions and advice – mix that altogether and we have adopted our own parenting style.
One of the books that I read, after a recommendation from a friend really did change our lives – when Freya was around 10 weeks old. It is called ‘Baby Secrets’ by Jo Tantum and Barbara Want (see below for the link). This book advised implementing a routine. I didn’t want to do the daytime routine just as I chose to breastfeed on demand, which was what I felt was right for me as a new, learning mum with a new, learning baby. However, the night time routine for us was fantastic. We suddenly had our evenings back and wow what a difference that made – we were a couple again ! Those few hours together really made us feel we were ourselves again. Here is the link for the book – I bought mine second hand from Amazon for about £3!
However, naïve as we were, it was all just a phase. We had read about the 4 month sleep regression, but boy did it hit us hard! 9 weeks later (yes, seriously) we were still suffering with lack of sleep. It had gotten so bad that we were up every 30 minutes and then resorted to co-sleeping by 10pm most nights. Most health profressionals I spoke to around this time constantly reassured me and told me that most people co-sleep, especially in other cultures. I was actually enjoying the cuddles and knew it was just a phase so I went with it – although more sleep might have helped!
So, now that (for the moment) we seem to be out the other side, my top tips for surviving the 4 month sleep regression would be:
1 – Accept it is just a phase, and go with it….for us, we co-slept, as that was the only way to get any sleep, and the way we saw it was – if we weren’t sleeping, we wouldn’t be of much use as parents!
2 – Accept help – if you have family and friends around who are willing to help, even for an hour, so you can catch up on some sleep (no, resist the washing and the ironing..), it really will help you to keep functioning.
3 – Stay healthy – when you’re exhausted it is so easy to reach for a quick fix snack like chocolate, biscuits, cake – and yes I definitely did this, but I found it probably made me feel worse at times. It worked for a few minutes but then I just felt even more sluggish. I made sure that I was well hydrated also. I aimed to drink 3litres of water per day whilst I was breastfeeding.
4 – Exercise – for me this was just brisk walking with the pram, but if I was feeling really low from the exhaustion (which was frequent) I would force myself to go out for a walk – having a dog helps here – but as soon as I stepped out of the front door and the fresh air hit me, I would feel instantly boosted, and felt like I could handle the day a little bit better from then on.
5 – Forget the schedules and routines – whereas before we had a fairly structured day, in that I knew roughly when Freya would have her milk and would like a nap, this seemed to go out of the window. I would panic if she hadn’t had her “usual” morning nap or would want an extra feed, or feed less. I found I had to just go with it, and again it was just a phase and a growth spurt. Once I accepted this, again I felt lighter and more relaxed.
I hope this has helped. Keep going mums and dads; you’re doing an AMAZING job 🙂