Post-natal sleep deprivation (or When will I ever get any sleep??!?)

I turned on Women’s Hour on Radio 4 today to hear Helen Walsh taking about her experience of post natal sleep deprivation.

It really took me back and reminded me of just how difficult those first few (well, actually nine) months were with Bub. And also how quickly that bizarre, sleep deprived life became a thing (mostly) of the past.

Think I’ll split this post into two, today about my experiences of poor post-natal sleep. And tomorrow some reflections on what I might have done differently.

After Bub was born I was on such an adrenaline fuelled rush I honestly don’t think I slept more than an hour in about three nights. That’s an hour total, not each night. Bub was right next to me the whole time and I just couldn’t relax or let myself drift off. Even when he did sleep a few hours I just couldn’t as I was on high alert to respond to his every grunt and snuffle. By day four this was getting ridiculous and I really needed to rest. I’d feed him about 11pm or so then go up to bed and leave him with my partner. His task was to keep Bub asleep, or happy, or whatever, for as long as possible. I lay in bed, pillow over my head, desperately trying to switch off, relax, take the precious sleep I could. Still even with this approach I only got maybe a couple of hours. Then Bub was back up needing another feed. This did eventually calm down, I learnt to relax in his company enough to grab a little sleep. But still as I was exclusively breastfeeding I was still woken every 2-3 hours to feed him. This basically continued for the next nine months – sometimes better, like the few times he slept six consecutive hours (heaven!) It also got worse, particularly from around 6-8 months when Bub and I got into a breastfeeding to sleep habit which he found very addictive and left him waking every 45 minutes (yes, you read that right) all night every night. As long as I got a stretch of at least two consecutive hours a night I felt vaguely human. But only just.

All so tough looking back. It was amazing how I adjusted to cope on so little sleep but I know now that I was seriously sleep deprived and the difference a few ‘proper’ nights rest made ne feel was astounding. If you are in this boat my heart and total respect goes out to you. It does pass. I know everyone says that to you but it is true.

The other thing everyone says is ‘nap when your baby naps’. Again, good advice. But my little cherub would only sleep at a very young age whilst being held. A nightmare. We tried co-sleeping but my stress levels only increased and sleep eluded me. In the end we discovered swaddling – a godsend.

Tomorrow, some thoughts on what I did and perhaps what I could have done differently. You can see all my sleep related posts here.


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One Response to “Post-natal sleep deprivation (or When will I ever get any sleep??!?)”

  1. Post natal sleep deprivation (or when will I get some sleep?) pt 2 « Don't wake the baby! Says:

    […] Don’t wake the baby! A mum on a mission to find some sleep « Post-natal sleep deprivation (or When will I ever get any sleep??!?) […]

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