When welcoming your little bundle of joy into the world, unbeknown to yourself – the lack of sleep kicks in almost straight away. Luckily the first night sleep was not too bad, though putting on alarms every 3 and a half hourly for feeds meant broken sleep, it was still better than none. After the first couple of nights, our new born started waking up regularly and when she wanted a feed, not when I had to wake her for one. Roughly the third night after baby was born, she decided she wanted a feed from anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. This left me setting an alarm almost every 20 minutes in case I fell asleep whilst feeding as I was terrified something bad would happen to the baby, but I was also extremely tired I was fighting to keep my eye lids open. I kept trying to stick to the feed until baby is full, remove from breast and lay down, which only lasted a couple of days, after this baby would wake up either straight away or before I had chance to get any sleep once placed down in the cot. As soon as our baby woke up, she would be wanting a feed again, so I would oblige, being completely in the dark as to whether or not I was feeding her correctly.
As the days passed and I struggled to get much rest at all without baby wanting constant feeding, I turned to my partner and suggested maybe he could watch myself for a couple of hours on the sofa once I found a comfortable position for myself and baby to get some sleep. He agreed to keep an eye and should baby move into a dangerous position he would be there to intervene. This is obviously not the recommended way but at this point I was getting desperate for sleep and had to give something a chance, otherwise I was likely to pass out at some point anyway. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe my partner played the PlayStation for a bit and after 2 hours or around that time, I woke up to still find baby happily cradled in my arms and my partner still sat happily next to us. I did find that every little movement did wake me briefly and I would find myself automatically adjusting to suit the baby. With my partners help for about a week we did it like this, just so that I could get some sleep, where baby would lay down then brilliant but if not, I still needed rest myself. My partner would sleep at night and my alarm would be on as needed, though this become more so that I did not fall asleep without my partner awake to keep an eye on us, unless I had chance to get rest, it was left on constant snooze.
Though sleeping with the baby is not recommended unless done safely and following certain guidelines, my partner was due back at work soon and a way for me to sleep needed to be found. With our baby just seemingly wanting a feed constantly, which left my breasts feeling incredibly sore, cracked and always feeling on fire, I did not want to not feed our baby whenever she requested, she obviously needed it, so I would not refuse – no matter how frequent and painful it was. With my back pain still being a major issue, the sofa became my new nest, and I found I could wedge myself extremely comfortably into the corner of it, with my legs up, baby nicely settled in and I would find myself falling asleep briefly for 20-30 minute intervals. Every movement, or sound from the baby I would instantly be awake and feel guilty for falling asleep, even though I knew I was being careful. Being told what not to do with the baby left the fear of daring to do anything outside of textbook feeling like I was being a horrible mother and I that I was doing something wrong.
When I saw the health visitor a few days in and then a couple of weeks in, I did not mention any of this to her, as I was terrified of what she would say. Luckily for me, I am a very light sleepier, not great when you need some sleep, but it was brilliant in this situation. The first check for the baby went well with the hearing, eyes and all the normal things that are checked, were done. The health visitor did ask how sleep was, and if the baby was settled in the night, going down in the cot well or not and still feeding, which at this early stage, she still was, at this point every couple of hours, 3 hours was the maximum she would go before waking.
Just a reminder :
- Even though sleeping with my baby worked for me, and was done as safely as we could make it, I do not want to encourage anyone at all to do the same and cause any dangerous, or at risk situations. I am definitely not trying to justify sleeping with our baby on the sofa either, it is what worked for me at the time and had a sofa which was easy to work with and there were no places for the baby to fall down in a gap or anything like that and if there were any doubts one day or night, I could fall to my partner to help and be awake when I slept. Failing this I would just not get any sleep if I felt there were any concerns, but becoming so tired that this was becoming more of a risk than finding an alternative.