A lot has been written about sleep...here are a few tips & thoughts that may help you.

  • Expect your sleep to be interrupted, prepare for it prior to the birth. Talk about it with your partner, how are you both feeling about it? What are your expectations of each other in terms of who will do the night feeds and nappy changes, and who will stay up when the baby is crying or is unsettled?

  • Allow yourself lots of time to get to know your baby. None of the thousands of so-called 'expert' books were written for your unique baby. By all means cherry pick aspects that appeal to you when it comes to parenting styles, but try not to be too rigid, your baby is an individual with individual needs. Being very rigid may leave you feeling a 'failure' or under unnecessary pressure trying to fit your baby into a routine that doesn't suit him or her.
    Rather, spend time looking at your baby, being with your baby skin to skin, getting to know your baby's smells, nooks & crannies.  Your baby will teach you, in time you will become the "expert" of your baby.

  • It is normal for babies to wake up frequently throughout the night. Newborn babies have very small stomachs so they need to feed frequently, some more often than others.  By the time babies are around three months old, most babies become a bit more settled and respond better to bedtime routines.  About half of all babies will start to sleep for a stretch of up to five hours, although this may not necessarily be while you are asleep...  
    TIP: consider going to bed early so you catch up on a few hours of sleep.

  • Help your baby distinguish night and day by exposing your baby to plenty of daylight and fresh air (being out & about will also do you good) and keeping evenings and night times quiet, calm & the lights dimmed.
  • Prior to the birth, you and your partner could sing to your unborn baby. Try to choose a song/songs you would be happy to sing for quite a while... Once your baby has arrived, your baby will be soothed by this familiar sound. It's never too late to start singing with your baby & it does not necessarily have to be a lullabye either.
  • Popular myths suggest "good" babies sleep through the night, sleep alone and do not need attention during the night.  This cultural pressure means some parents may feel they need to help their baby achieve this independence quickly.  But expecting a baby to sleep alone, and for prolonged periods, is unrealistic and can be harmful.  Arousal from sleep is thought to be an important protective mechanism for babies and as a consequence "sleep training" babies before they are ready may interfere with the continuation of successful breastfeeding, and may encourage babies to develop mature sleep patterns before processes such as controlling regulation of temperature, hormone production & biological rhythms etc have developed. 

  • Accept all offers of help, it is not a sign of failure! 

  • Whether your baby sleeps a lot or not - it is not a reflection on how good a parent you are.          Try not to compare and despair.

  • 4 month sleep regression... You may or may not have heard of this stage. Babies regularly go through major physiological changes and around four months of age many babies start waking more frequently during the night. Some babies want to feed every 1-2 hours as if they are a newborn again. This stage is usually accompanied by fussy feeding during the daytime, with the baby being easily distracted and stopping frequently mid-feed. Some parents find it helps to feed in quiet areas, away from distraction. Babies tend to feed very well during the night, as if they are making up for the inefficient feeds during the day. It tends to last between around 1-3 weeks and can be very challenging for the parents, so please try to make sure you surround yourself with supportive people. It is not a reflection on something you did or did not do. This too shall pass, it is not in itself a sign that your baby is ready for solids, but rather a developmental stage.
  • Try to be kind to yourself, and try to make time for yourself and as a couple.  Who can help you with this? Have a think about this before the birth, do you have friends or family who can look after your baby for a while? If not, where can you go for reputable babysitters or nannies?
    Tip: Book a sitter during the daytime instead of the evening. It will allow you time to talk, have a meal, walk, read papers or whatever it is that makes you feel reconnected as a couple, leaving you feeling refreshed - rather than falling asleep into your evening meal and then needing to do the night shift with your baby afterwards.  This works great with toddlers and older children as well.  Part of your day is taken care of & you will all be happy to see each other again after a short break.

  • It is okay to feel frustrated, upset and even angry. It is not okay to take it out on your baby. If you feel angry with your baby, put your baby in a safe place, walk away and release that frustration by having a good cry/scream/deep and relaxed breathing (in through your nose, out through soft open mouth)/phone a friend or relative who is empathetic and non-judgmental. Consider who is in your supportive network, think about joining local baby and toddler groups, coffee mornings or becoming active in your local playgroups to expand your network.  

  • Talk with your partner about the household tasks, budgets etc. Ideally before the baby arrives. Who does what? Set realistic expectations, no one is a mind reader. Before the birth, you could draw up a list of things that need to be done in your household.  Apart from breastfeeding (which takes a mentally &physically supportive partner to succeed) all tasks can be divided. Tip: Try to avoid resentment building, talk respectfully with each other, try not to get into a game of "who's the most tired" you will both lose.  Rather, try to focus on positives and try to work together.

  • Try to rest or sleep, or just relax when your baby is asleep. 

  • Just coping is just fine, but please reach out for help when you need it. 

  • This too will pass...enjoy this precious time with your baby.

    See also ISIS(Infant Sleep Information Source) a fantastic resource (Durham University et al) which provides unbiased evidence based information about normal infant sleep based upon the latest UK and world-wide research.  Free info sheets and free App available.

    www.isisonline.org.uk