How to survive sleep deprivation with a Newborn

As a Newborn photographer (based in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire) I meet a lot of New parents. I understand how hard sleep deprivation is, and not only in the Newborn period!


newborn baby yawning wearing a white headband laying on a newborn photography bean bag

Hopefully these ideas can help all parents who are sleep deprived no matter where they are on their parenthood journey.

I recently asked a question on my Instagram stories (@oliviaroseimages- come follow me!) and asked  “what was the number one thing you struggled with when becoming a mum” and the most popular answer, by far, was

1. Sleep deprivation

I really wanted to do some research and see what I could do to help all the tired mama’s out there because I understand so much! I remember it all so well! 

(Although, in the interest of being upfront and honest here, Olivia was a brilliant sleeper after the first few months but I certainly remember those first few months of broken sleep- doing night feeds, my mind in over drive worrying about her and the 100 jobs I had piling up! So I can certainly relate!)

So I have done some research and come up with a little list of things you could try if your understandably feeling a little sleep deprived after having your baby!

First and foremost-

1. Avoiding the caffeine cycle (hard with a Newborn I know!)

How many of us fall into the trap of thinking coffee is the answer?

*hand up* this is me, every time! I love coffee (especially the beanies Irish cream one, black, no sugar…*goes to make a coffee*

But apparently coffee isn’t the answer…I know, I am as shocked as you! I thought coffee was the answer to everything along with a chocolate bar…

A cup of coffee promotes central nervous system stimulation, making you feel alert. But too much coffee can start to have the opposite affect. This is because coffee is a diuretic and therefore dehydrates you. What happens when you are dehydrated? You become fatigued and tired. And so the coffee cycle begins- you feel more tired so you drink more coffee, you feel even more tired so you drink more coffee, you feel tired…..you get my drift here I am sure!

2. Drink more water

So now we have broken the coffee cycle what should we be drinking instead? Water! 

I think we all know that we should drink more water, but especially helpful when we are trying to refresh and awaken our bodies after a bad nights (weeks, month, years) sleep. Our bodies are made up of 80% water and drinking more keeps us hydrated which aids the flow of oxygen to the brain and all of your bodily organs. When the flow is abundant the heart and body has to do less work to get that oxygen around your body which in turn reserves your energy levels!

3. Avoid quick fix sugary foods

I know it is so hard when you are tired to reach for the quick and easy foods but I can almost guarantee you’ll feel more energised if you pick something that will keep you fuller for longer and packed with energy

These foods are said to be packed full of energy-

– Porridge oats

– Nuts

– Peanut butter

– Dark chocolate (hallelujah!)

– Baked potatoes

– Protein rich foods such as eggs, fish lean meat

Sugar quickly spikes energy levels and they fall just as quickly as they rose (….but I know the chocolate bar with that cup of tea seems so much more tempting…I know mama I know! And sometimes, you know what just enjoy that little moment of joy!)

4. Try a smoothie? Especially in the summer months!

Food is the bodies fuel. Whenever I eat better I always have more energy! A smoothie is a great way of getting more fruit and veg into our diet without tasting them too much! Particularly refreshing and revitalising in the summer with some ice cubes or made with frozen fruit

5 Ways to Add Energy to Your Smoothies

-Seeds

-Leafy Greens (the greens are the most nutritious part of the smoothie, anything from spinach, kale, and parsley can add fantastic benefits to your smoothie without even tasting them)

-Spices (cinnamon is always my top choice!)

-Goji Berries

-Wheatgrass

Take a look at https://www.symbiotics.com/5-ways-to-add-energy-to-your-smoothies/ for more information about these energy boosting ingredients!

5. Take a walk with your Newborn / baby

It seems a strange suggestion to do something that requires energy, when you have no energy, to make more energy. However when I looked into this it said “Walking increases oxygen flow through the body. It can also increase levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Those are the hormones that help elevate energy levels

I would always be out walking when Olivia was a baby. Getting out of those four walls was a blessing somedays! 

Walking is especially beneficial if it is sunny- do you naturally find you are more energised and happier when the sun is shining?! It isn’t in your mind! Sunlight helps boost a chemical in your brain called serotonin, and that can give you more energy, helping keep you calm and positive! When we do not get enough sunlight (particularly in the winter) it is called Seasonal Affective Disorder and this is linked to low levels of serotonin

6. Take a nap with your Newborn

This was a hard suggestion for me to include because I didn’t want to be one of those “sleep when the baby sleeps” kind of people. Nevertheless, we are talking about things to do when you are feeling sleep deprived so I thought it deserved a mention. Whilst I am totally aware the isn’t doable a lot of the time especially if you have other children.

I used to find those few moments of peace was my “me time” where I could just sit with a cup of tea and take a moment, catch up on the house work or other jobs. But if I were to go back I would try and take a nap or a lay down to rest more often where I could

If a nap isn’t do able you could try going to bed a little earlier than usual- that one is defiantly more do-able for me!

7. Take a shower

If napping isn’t going to work how about a refreshing shower? If you have 10 minutes a quick shower can really boost your energy levels and make you feel less stressed. A cool shower is particular effective at giving you more energy. “The cold water sends many electrical impulses to your brain. They jolt your system to increase alertness, clarity, and energy levels. Endorphins, which aresometimes called happiness hormones, are also released” (quote from www.healthline.com › health › cold-shower-benefits)

You could take baby in the bathroom with you placing them in their bouncer (age dependant).


I hope that these ideas have been helpful. I know sleep deprivation is so difficult in those early weeks. My only other suggestion would be to ask for help and accept help when it is offered. In my birth planner there is a section where you can plan out your support network that you can lean on for help when needed.

What are your best tips for sleep deprived parents? Let me know in the comments

Emma xx

| Olivia Rose Images Newborn and Maternity specialised based in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. I also photograph older babies, sitter sessions, first birthdays and families |

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