Friday, January 9, 2015

Sleep Experts...when are they really necessary?

I hear a lot of talk about sleep experts these days.  Like other experts in the field of parenting, there are definitely reasons to seek out expert help from time to time, but I will tell you that a marked lack of sleep is NORMAL for the first several months of parenthood, and no one can "make" another person sleep. If you are concerned about a lack of sleep, I would encourage you to seek out first a Naturopathic doctor or nurse practitioner who can help you to assess if what you are experiencing falls into the category of normal sleep deprivation of early parenthood.  If so, then...

I know that lack of sleep is one of the most surprising changes that parenting brings (even if you have been prepared to expect it) and when there are experts out there, writing books and offering consulting services, that it is very tempting to try to fix the baby and get them to sleep at night.  Try to remember that, especially in the early days, weeks, and months of parenting, your baby NEEDS to eat at night...often. Try to imagine how often you would need to eat to triple your weight in a year.  Certainly there would need to be some midnight snacking.  That is the job of a newborn, to grow and thrive.  Sleep too, because it is also important, but the goal is to get enough sleep in a 24 hour cycle, not relying on the 8 hours in a row we have become accustomed to.  If you are able to sleep for periods of 2-3 hours in a row throughout the night and make time to take a nap a little during the day...even in the early evening for moms who also work outside the will be much better able to handle the demands of nighttime parenting without feeling like a zombie.

Follow your instincts.  Many of the challenges that we face in the early stages of parenthood are about learning your baby.  Cut yourself some slack. It is a natural process, but like childbirth, that doesn't mean it's easy. There will not likely be one book, or even any variety of books, that will fit your individual little one perfectly in terms of being a manual for how to take care of him or her.  Let your instincts guide you.  Listen to your heart. There is a reason why people have to work so hard to make themselves follow certain feeding/sleep programs.  They are fighting their instincts.  Resisting picking up a crying baby, or trying to no hold a sleeping baby when it feels natural to you is just silly. It is biologically NORMAL to want to be near your baby. Is is biologically normal to feed on demand, and to sleep when baby sleeps.  It is also biologically normal for your baby to regulate those things over time. As adults, We may have to make some slight adaptations as a result of our modern society, but it really is not fair to place that burden on a newborn.

Click here to read the hilariously wild range of advice offered to one desperate mom from various sleep training experts for a good laugh, but also some wisdom.

When you have a team of pro-natural, supportive, pediatric health care providers that you trust, you can rely on them help you determine if you are experiencing something that is unhealthy for you or your baby...or both, that is a reason to seek some support.  Hopefully they will have list of resources that they have worked with before and trust, so have some idea about their philosophy going in.

  Sleep short bursts....and little naps....many times a day....near your will all be ok....this won't last forever.

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