When you have a baby , people like to tell you all about how magical it’s going to be. They talk to you about the first smiles and the smel...

To The Sleep-Deprived Mother, I See You

By February 23, 2020

When you have a baby, people like to tell you all about how magical it’s going to be. They talk to you about the first smiles and the smell of your baby - how you’ll breathe them in. Sure, they’ll talk about the lack of sleep, but it’s mostly in a way that dismisses how little sleep you’ll get because it’s so worth it

You’ll be told all about the new baby equipment you’ll need and you’ll be told about what to look out for when your baby has a cold. If you’re lucky, you’ll be well-advised on breastfeeding and bottle feeding. They'll tell you the dangers of cot bumpers (a good thing) and the dangers of leaving your baby in a car seat for too long. If you hadn't already realised, much of the warnings you’ll get about pregnancy and your new baby are to help you to be safe. They’ll make you feel excited about the new bundle about to come into your life. 

What they may fail to tell you is just how hard it can be to be a mother. We’re holding our hands up - it’s not easy. Yes, you get used to the lack of sleep, but if your baby has colic or reflux, you’re pretty much never going to get a chance to rest. It sounds brutal, but as you scroll this at 3am while your two week old baby kicks his legs and screams his lungs out, you’ll get it. You’ll understand. And Mum, we see you. We see you struggling. We see your tears and we see how desperate you are to both attend to your baby’s needs while simultaneously begging him to just relax and sleep. We know that this is not easy - and we see you.
Baby Sleeping on White Cotton
The hardest part of motherhood is the lack of sleep. It’s torture, to be honest, to not be able to have any decent rest. A baby is designed to wake up frequently, of course, and in the fourth trimester - those first precious weeks where they are getting used to the outside world - it’s especially hard. However, it doesn't mean that you can’t complain. You can love your baby and be grateful for their tiny presence in your life while wishing them to go to sleep just for a while so you can rest. 

A baby only cries when they are lacking something. Whether this is hunger, discomfort in their nappy or exhaustion, babies will cry because it’s their only way to communicate with you what they need. They also cry when they’re in pain. You may not have breastfed your baby, but even a breastfed baby can scream and cry because of reflux. If you’ve ever had acid reflux, you know exactly how painful it can be to feel the acid rise up at the back of your throat. Imagine being a newborn and feeling that burn but not being able to tell anyone about it? That is your baby right now.

Speaking to your doctor, they should be able to diagnose reflux - especially if your baby is particularly prone to spewing up after every feed. They’ll prescribe Gaviscon infant and hope for the best. With silent reflux, it’s a little different. Your baby may not throw up after every feed, but they’ll still be in pain, and that’s much harder to diagnose. You can practice paced feeding with the bottle to see if your baby is dealing with silent reflux, but ultimately your sleep is still going to be disturbed. The fact is that you should speak to your doctor about any lengthy screaming, as there could be something that you can do about it. 

It’s not easy to deal with sleep deprivation, but your baby doesn't need sleep training. So many of the older generation will tell you to wrap him up and let him scream, but the research has shown time and again that leaving your baby to cry has an adverse effect on them long term. You wouldn't want to be left crying and sad if you were upset, so you won’t want to do the same. The sleep deprivation - thankfully - will pass. Get the right help from your partner or your family. Don't sit up and cry at night alone, because there will always be someone who can help you. If you’re on your own and parenting, you can keep reminding yourself that these long nights feel endless, but there is a day right ahead of you where this will end and your baby will settle and you will reclaim your sleep once more.

Until then? We see you. We support you. We know you can do this.

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