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Coping with tiredness

Sorry to be the one to say it, but the rumours are all true. Taking care of a newborn – as incredible as it is – is a tiring business. Exhaustion is, beyond doubt, one of the greatest challenges you will face in the first few months. It is for good reason that sleep deprivation has been used as an extremely successful form of torture for centuries. The human mind and body simply cannot operate efficiently without a sufficient amount of sleep.

The first few weeks after bringing your baby home are generally the most challenging - your regular routine has been turned upside down and you are all getting to know each other and establishing a new pattern to your lives together. It is at this time that parents need to adjust to functioning with a lot less sleep than they are used to, and certainly a poorer quality of sleep.

Becoming exhausted is not merely inconvenient, your concentration is affected, simple tasks seem challenging, you run the risk of physical illness, you may feel depressed and irritable and you may feel unable to care for or enjoy your baby. But forget about searching for a wonder tonic that will help you to feel energised in spite of a lack of sleep. The following coping tips will help you to get over the rough patch until life starts to settle into a manageable routine and will ensure you stay healthy along the way.

Make sleeping a priority

It may sound ridiculous, but the best way to prevent becoming overtired is to get as much sleep as possible. Trying to prove that you are supermom (or dad), won’t do you or your baby any good. If help is offered - be it for shopping, cooking, babysitting siblings or tidying up – accept it. Accepting support will make it much easier for you to sleep whenever your little one does. If you battle to fall asleep every time baby does, at least use the time to put your feet up and relax. Don’t feel guilty about it – this time will pass before you know it.

Improve the quality of sleep

In the absence of quantity, as least strive for quality. Ensure that your bedroom is a peaceful place to retreat to at night. Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature, keep the lights low and the noise to a minimum. If baby is sharing with you in the first few weeks or months this will help her to distinguish night from day and settle into a good sleeping routine early. If she is sleeping in her own room right away, follow the same steps to help her have restful sleep between feeds.

Introduce routine

Routine is a baby’s best friend. Although a feeding routine may take a while to establish, sticking to some sort of routine throughout the day will help you to feel calmer and less overwhelmed by this major life change and will let baby feel secure and relaxed. Try to follow the same of pattern of bath, feed, sleep in the evenings. As with the peaceful bedroom, keep bath time relaxed, warm and quiet to lead up to bedtime.

Watch what you eat and drink

Chances are you won’t have the time or the inclination to cook at this point. In fact, with all the demands of caring for your baby you may not feel very hungry or may forget to eat. This only makes the tiredness worse as your body becomes undernourished. Keep yourself healthy and your energy levels up by opting for nutritious foods such as salads, fresh vegetables, fruit, fruit juices, potatoes, pasta and cereals. Avoid snacking on sweets and chocolates as these just give you a quick pick-me-up with no sustained energy. Avoid drinking anything containing caffeine or alcohol – both wreak havoc with your energy levels and sleep patterns. Naturally, if you are breastfeeding, good nutrition is essential to keeping you and baby healthy. Click here to read more.

Get some exercise

Exercise is the last thing on your mind when you are exhausted, but moderate exercise will energise you. Walking is the simplest solution and easy to incorporate into your day by taking baby for a stroll in the pram. Getting out of the house and into the fresh air will make you both feel great!

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