How is the baby sleeping? Oh my gosh, whenever someone asked this question I nearly cried. I didn’t want to explain that actually my baby wakes up nearly every hour and I’m exhausted, but I can’t even take a nap because I have so much anxiety from said exhaustion.
The lack of sleep in those early days was rough. On top of that, I was experiencing new baby “night time anxiety,” where I was terrified of even going to sleep. Why? Because I knew that I would wake up to a restless or crying baby and/or might have trouble getting back to sleep after I soothed him. Does that sound familiar? Do you have a hard time drifting off to sleep at night? Does your mind race as your head hits the pillow? Do you have a hard time falling back asleep after you get up to feed your baby?
I have a couple of tips that might help:
Practice sleep hygiene. Create a short bedtime routine that develops positive associations and calms you before bedtime. That could look like a hot shower followed by a cup of tea and reading a few pages in a book. Or maybe you change into pajamas, write down some notes in a gratitude journal, and then spray lavender essential oil on your sheets. Your ritual can literally be five minutes, but keep it consistent and make it something that calms you. When our baby was really little, I would either have his papa take over or start my short routine right after he went to sleep around 7 or 8 p.m. As he got older, I pushed this routine back to 9:00 p.m. that way I was asleep earlier in the night. I swear it helps.
Train your body to calm and unwind with breathing techniques. As you recline in bed, practice something called deep belly breathing. Bring your hands to your belly and take a slow, full breath in through the nose. Feel your belly expand. Gently exhale the breath through the nose, allowing the belly to soften. Think of a balloon inflating in your abdomen as you inhale and deflating as you exhale. Repeat for a few minutes...you might even drift right off to sleep without even noticing! This breath is also wonderful for reconnecting to the core and pelvic floor postpartum.
Try a “progressive relaxation” for getting back to sleep in the middle of the night. First, turn the clock on your nightstand around. That will help you stop obsessing about how much sleep you’re not getting. Then start a progressive relaxation. Starting from your toes and working towards the crown of your head, bring awareness to the different areas of the body and say to yourself something like, “My toes are relaxed. The tops of my feet, soles of my feet and ankles are relaxed. My shins and calves are relaxed. My knees and thighs are relaxed…” Take it slow. Many of the clients I work with say they are asleep by the time the exercise gets to their hips, but don’t worry if you need to repeat it a few times.
Sleep is so very precious. And, when we aren’t getting it, our mental and physical health can suffer. New mothers who get quality rest are also more likely to have lower rates of postpartum anxiety and depression, which I know intimately about. The first months with a newborn inevitably means we are getting a little (or a lot) less sleep than we used to, but that doesn’t mean quality sleep is unattainable. It truly is!
How would you describe the quality of rest you are getting? Are you experiencing any anxiety? Is it affecting your sleep? Please write and let me know. I love to hear from you and to create content that supports you, and I hope these tips help.
P.S. >>Life update<< Many know that we are embarking on a move to Rhode Island from Pennsylvania in the next few weeks! This change in our personal life has also been the inspiration for me to share more offerings in the Prenatal & Postnatal world. Soon, we'll be sharing the 'beta' launch of Yoga Dear Mama - our online prenatal and postnatal yoga program! While I can’t say the official launch date yet, I would SO APPRECIATE your help in spreading the word. Would you forward this message to a friend or loved one who might be interested in practicing prenatal yoga or yoga for postpartum? More details to come. <3 Please visit www.yogadear.com/yogadearmama to get on the email list!
Get the Yoga Dear Mama letters. <3
I share encouraging, informative, and down to earth messages, each with a healthy dose of humor and honesty. Basically, the kind of thing I'd want to read during pregnancy and later postpartum...because gosh motherhood is confusing. When you subscribe, you'll receive my messages on What I wish I would've known before baby & a quick guide on the Yoga poses to avoid during pregnancy.