If you have a newborn, no doubt you laughed at the mere thought of this title. “Reasons to nap with a newborn”. The two words nap and newborn don’t generally go together in a sentence. I mean, come on! You’ve just had a baby, and whether it is your first or your 8th baby, you not only have a fresh baby to worry about. But you also have to start considering yourself? Ha. Ha. Ha.
As a mother of 2 children myself (one is 3.5 years old and the other is 15 months), the notion of a nap is still extremely foreign to me. I mean, I know it’s that thing my 15 month old does every day, for around 3 hours, over lunch time. And it’s that thing my daughter stopped doing over 18 months ago (gosh I hope my son loves his sleep more than she did!); but for me? I vaguely remember one or two days after each of them were born where I managed to catch a wink or two on the couch. THAT’S the “nap” we’re talking about!
But the thing is, if you really want to stay sane, you should try your hardest to do it as often as possible. Not just one or two days in 3.5 years.
Recovery is a process.
The first 6 weeks are the most important time of your recovery. Child birth is not easy. Although many men or women who’ve never actually given birth might say differently (or those women who claim their children came out as easily as popping a champagne cork); it’s NOT easy! And regardless of if you give birth naturally or via c-section – it hurts. Contractions – the worst imaginable pain possible (they’ve done studied to prove it!!) … recovery from major surgery – painful. And in those first 6 weeks, your body is going to go through a whole lot of change, hormonal and physical.
Whenever possible, get some rest. If you can’t possibly nap knowing you have a newborn right near you, at least lie down every time your baby sleeps. Close your eyes for a few minutes. Take time to regroup, take a few deep breaths – and with any luck you’ll doze off before you know it.
If you can’t relax, try to get a family member or your partner to watch the baby for half an hour.
Why is napping so important?
Here are some of the reasons you need to try to get some rest:
- In the first year of your baby’s life, you’re going to lose around 350 hours of sleep. And if you have a toddler, or other children, and their sleeping isn’t synced, you can expect to lose even more. Sounds exhausting! Try to nap, and you can reduce that amount.
- You have someone who depends on you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And if you are falling apart due to lack of sleep, you aren’t much good to them.
- Sleep lowers your metabolism. That means your body has more time to absorb the nutrients that you’ve been filling yourself with (you know, that post-partum ice cream you’ve been gorging yourself on every time you feed your baby – LOADS of calcium in there!)
- If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you’re going to get cranky. And at the moment you have so many hormones pouring through you, that adding even more crankiness to the mix is not going to be a fun time for anyone – you, your partner, your kids, the man at the grocery store who short changes you 5 cents …
- Lack of sleep, and the stress that comes with it, can affect your breast milk. It affects your let-down reflex, which in turn can affect your supply levels.
- Post natal depression. Sleep deprivation doesn’t cause depression, but it certainly doesn’t help it. According to the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, if a mother isn’t getting enough sleep, the symptoms of post natal depression will be worse; which can in turn decrease her levels of judgement and concentration – dangerous to both her health and her child’s.
- According to the National Sleep Foundation in the US, there are more than 1,500 people who die every year from car crashes as a result of sleep deprivation. If you’re not here, you can’t be a great parent!
Take our advice!
If you need any more convincing, you’re obviously more sleep deprived than we thought. But really, just take our advice. Next time you lie bub down for a nap; lie down as well.
Even if you don’t end up in a deep coma of jumping sheep or Brad Pitt; just close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Relax for a while, meditate, and consider yourself. Your body can’t exist without you taking care of it. So while it’s hard when you’re a new mum, you need to try to put yourself first – even just for a few minutes a day.