Coping with postpartum sleep deprivation – how to deal with it, how Gina Ford’s routine helped us
When you are a new mother, your free time is limited all the sudden. You really need to prioritize what you can do during the day. The highest priority for me has been to catch up with sleep, especially because I’ve been breastfeeding exclusively. why?
Fatigue = less milk (also thin) = unhappy baby 🙁 = stress = unhappy family……
Negative spiral!!!!! We do not want that!
Thanks to the Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford, my 10-week-old son has been sleeping throughout the night, almost 98% of the time, for the past three weeks or so. Right now he is on the Week 8 – 12 weeks schedule, and it has been pretty stable. Sometimes he still resurfaces from his light sleep at night and cannot go back to sleep and cries a bit, but with some help (let him suck on the pacifier a bit, if it doesn’t work, rock him in the arms to sleep), he gets sleepy again quickly. No more “IF YOU DON’T FEED ME, I WON’T STOP CRYING” attitude! lol
The schedule looks like below, but we don’t follow the time too strictly. If the time is not specified, he should be playing on a mat, going for a walk in the garden, or watching fish and corals in my aquarium:
7:00 Feeding (25 mins on the first breast, 15 mins on the second)
9:00-9:45 Nap time
10:45 Feeding (25 mins from the breast he last fed, 15 mins on the other)
12:00 – 14:00 Nap time
14:15 Feeding (25 mins from the breast he last fed, 15 mins on the other).
16:15 A bottle of water (around 60ml from the bottle)
16:45 – 17:00 Nap time
17:15 Feeding (25 mins from the breast he last fed)
17:45 – 18:10 Swimming and/or bathing
18:15 Feeding (the other breast)
19:00 Nap time
22:15 Feeding (20-25 mins from the breast he last fed)
23:15 Bed time!
What we don’t do anymore: early morning feeding. We strictly stick to the feeding during his day time, i.e. between 7am to 7pm (10pm feeding is considered to be a night feeding). What happens if he wakes up before 7am?
- We have to let him settle himself first!
- If not, soothe him with a pacifier.
- If not, rock him im your arms until he gets sleepy.
- If not, feed him a bit of water to soothe him.
This is based on the core-night method, which has been used for many years by maternity nurses and parents who believe in routine. He has slept through the night – this means he IS able to do it, so let him settle himself, if not, we should ‘help’ him to do so without being fed immediately.
Most of the time he is already up around 6:30am but he doesn’t cry. He looks around, moves around, kind of entertain himself with a Montessori mobile I made for him… Sometimes we just pick him up, take a walk in the garden, change his his diaper, clean his face etc, before you know it, it is time for breakfast!
Finally I can sleep without any disturbance!
It is amazing how efficiently undisturbed sleep can help you recover! For a week, I’ve been sleeping in my bedroom again without the baby in the room. He is now sleeping 100% of his time in the nursery, not in a living room with me like in the last several weeks. He had no problem do to so because he’s been taking all his naps in his room anyway, and the room can be very dark and cozy.
Sleeping throughout the night – I hadn’t had this in months…. it’s been wonderful. 6-7 hours of sleep is more than enough, I no longer need to nap between 8:30 – 10:00 to catch up with the sleep!
[Ever since I follow the Bulletproof Diet, my quality of sleep has improved dramatically. I wake up every day between 6-6:30am, and I AM AWAKE. I used to glue myself to bed, never wanted to come out. I could sleep for hours…. not anymore! Quality sleep is better than long, shallow sleep!]
I’ve been using the OURA ring analysis as well so that I can see my sleeping pattern. I would love to work on getting more deep and REM sleep. Anyway, I feel pretty fit already and I don’t need a nap, so I would like to use this time to do yoga to stretch my muscles and swim for 1km or so.
As a breastfeeding mother, I do not take anything with caffein right now, except 10g of home-made dark chocolate on top of kefir in the evening. I still drink a cup of Bulletproof Coffee in the morning but for now it is decaf. I just don’t want caffein to go to my baby….. so what did I use to stay fit then?
I have been ‘fueling’ myself with MCT oil throughout the day, up to 3 tablespoons. Yap, this is the wonderful fat which does not make you fat but energizes you. I think it is also to do with the fact that I ate sufficient amount of good fat without taking too much carb… I kept it up to 25% of the total food intake. My blood sugar level is always low so I never get tired.
I test my urine with Ketostick frequently and it has been showing trace amount to medium amount of ketone. I think this helped me to go through the day with little sleep. I also carry it around in a small bottle when I go out. It is pretty useful, because sometimes you eat some carb for lunch in a restaurant, I just take a tablespoon so that my body will be fueled by ketones as well, so you don’t get tired!
We use MCT Oil from Healtholicious which only contains caprylic acid and capric acid. I wonder why nobody produces this in Thailand, coconuts are everywhere!!!! We used to import it from the US but the shipping cost was quite expensive, and sometimes the bottles arrived broken. Thank god it is now available in Thailand.
[An interest remark: my baby really doesn’t need to sleep much during the day! The current routine limits the max. amount of sleep to 3.5 hours. On average, he only sleeps for 2 hours, max. 2.5 hours. May be this is why he is able to sleep more at night. He is also a very active boy. He get lots of tummy time, lots of attention from my husband, I and the nanny. He is exposed to four different languages. I think he gets enough stimulation during the day to get deeper sleep when he goes down.]
Supplements/food to give you better sleep
In order for your brain to rest, heal and repair, it is important to fuel it properly. Food definitely influence how it recovers, and here are some hacks I have been following:
- Omega 3 before going to bed: I take krill oil, which is supposed to be the cleanest source of Omega 3. Here is a really great article about krill oil, how to choose the best one.
- MCT Oil before going to bed: as a stable energy source for the brain during sleep.
- Raw honey before going to bed: sometimes I take a teaspoon of Manuka honey. it is a great source of glucose! The brain needs liver glycogen at night, honey is perfect for this!
- Collagen for dinner: we drink a cup of home made beef broth, which is full of collagen, minerals and vitamins. It is supposed to be good if you lack of amino acids, as the protein from the broth is already processed enzymatically so that the digestion would be easier.
Other things to watch out: don’t use your mobile phone before going to bed. Don’t check your emails, ignore notifications from Facebook and Instagram! It is always better to leave it outside your room and switch it off. The temptation is too big ‘just to see’ if you have any messages…. this stimulates your brain, i.e. you probably won’t be able to get a deep sleep immediately.
I am sure there are other hacks to aid sleep…. right now I am happy with what I have been doing now. If you have anything to share, let me know!