Having a newborn brings up many challenges. One of the hardest things new moms have to deal with is a lack of sleep. The timing couldn't be worse -- just when you are physically exhausted and need to recuperate from delivery and adjust to a huge life change of being a parent, you also need to do all of this on very little sleep, and what you get is often broken as well!
Average Sleep Lost
According to The Sleep Lady, a new mom loses an average of two hours of sleep at night. Now, this may not sound too terrible, but keep in mind that the sleep you do get will likely be interrupted every couple of hours. A long block of sleep may be something you don't see for quite some time. Over the course of your baby's first year, losing an average of two hours of sleep per night adds up to approximately 740 lost sleep hours.
Risks of Not Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation can cause physical issues, in addition to making you just feel miserable and cranky. Not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain and memory problems, says The Sleep Lady. In addition, being sleep deprived can also cause high blood pressure and poor immune response over the long term. This is why it's important to sneak in sleep whenever you can, even if it's in little bits at a time.
The worst of the sleep problems you will face as a new mom will occur in the first few months after birth, explains the Mayo Clinic. While every baby is different, many babies can sleep five hours straight by the time they are 3 months old, and by 6 months, it's possible they will even sleep 9 to 12 hours at night. By around 3 or 4 months, your baby may also be developing a rough schedule of napping, so you may be able to count on a bit of rest at certain periods throughout the day.
Advice for New Moms
Whenever possible, sleep whenever the baby sleeps. The laundry can wait for an hour while you lay down to take a snooze. If family or friends come to visit, don't feel pressured to entertain them -- ask them to take care of the baby for a little bit so you can take a nap, says the Mayo Clinic. Split nighttime duties with your partner, if possible. If you're bottle feeding, you can take turns getting up, and if you're nursing, your husband can at least change the baby's diaper and bring her to you so you can stay in bed to nurse.