New Mum Worries: Lack of Sleep

Our reassuring advice helps put your mind at rest.

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Read common worries from real mums and put your mind to rest with advice and solutions from our experts.

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I haven’t slept properly since my baby was born two weeks ago. I’m completely exhausted, and frightened that I’m going to make a mistake caring for her.

Answer: Looking after a baby is physically and emotionally exhausting, especially when you’re experiencing broken nights because of a newborn’s sleep patterns. Sleep deprivation is actually a form of torture! ‘Lack of sleep can seriously affect your ability to think straight, so do take your concerns seriously,’ says Claire Halsey, clinical psychologist and co-author of Ask A Parenting Expert (£14.99, Dorling Kindersley). ‘It’s essential to nap when your baby does, and forget about catching up with the chores. Be reassured: this intense phase will come to an end. You’ll still feel tired, but you won’t feel in such a desperate state.’

‘Ensure you establish the difference between day and night to help your baby find a routine,’ suggests health visitor Maggie Fisher. ‘Keep the lights low and use hushed tones at night.
Try not to let your baby fall asleep on the breast or bottle – she will use this as a sleep cue and, without it, ifshe wakes during the night, she’ll be unable to get back to sleep on her own.’ If you really feel at the end of your tether, seek help. Your health visitor or GP will be able to suggest support services to make life easier.

When I check on my baby during the night, he often looks a bit hot. How can I make sure he’s comfortable?

Answer: Newborns struggle to regulate their temperature, so they need to be monitored. Add or remove layers as needed. Keep a thermometer in your baby’s bedroom, and open a window or increase/reduce the heating if he’s getting too warm or cool.
Health visitor Maggie says, ‘Never feel your baby’s hands or feet to gauge his temperature, as they often feel cold and may be misleading. Put your hand on his chest, just under his chin, for an indication of his true temperature.’ It’s important that your baby doesn’t overheat, as this has been found to be a risk factor in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It’s very rare though, so don’t worry unnecessarily.

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MORE SAFE SLEEP TIPS:

  • Place your baby on her back to sleep, in a cot, in a room with you.
  • Do not smoke during pregnancy, or let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.
  • Do not share a bed with your baby if you’ve been drinking alcohol, taking drugs or if you are a smoker. 

  • Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair. 

  • Keep your baby’s head uncovered.
  • Visit fsid.org.uk for more information.
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