My Midwives' Newborn Sleep Tips
Sleep is the perennial issue
According to Liz, sleep is the perennial issue for new parents. Newborn sleeping patterns vary dramatically but rarely do new families find that they have hit the sweet spot in terms of everyone getting enough sleep. It is great to think and prepare for the ways you can help your loved one to maximise quality (and quantity) of sleep as this helps with the wellbeing of the whole family.
Starting simply, newborns in the first two weeks of life are adjusting to life outside the uterus. Often the second night after birth is a time where everyone is tearing their hair out wishing for an hour or two in bed. Newborns are subject to many changes and challenges during this period – for the first time they are breathing, eating, sleeping alone and being expected to be happy alone in a bed. The key to this early period is a low level of expectation as to how much sleep you can expect and to try to get short bursts of sleep rather than expecting longer sleep cycles. Preparation to maximise comfort is a great strategy.
Wool is beneficial for sleep
Before baby is born, Liz suggests considering baby’s comfort in sleeping by using natural fibres. Merino wool in particular is breathable and enables your newborn to more easily thermoregulate. The small pockets of air that sit within the wool fibres assist to cool or warm baby depending on the climate. This has been found to be beneficial in terms of sleep.
It has been clearly demonstrated that wool provides a really beneficial sleep strategy. The options are that baby can be in a wool sleeping bag, sleeping on wool or a range of other strategies. Read more at Why is Merino Wool Good for my Baby? Families often resist using wool as they are concerned about the impact on baby’s skin but merino wool, with its specific and unique fibre make up, has the added benefit of reducing eczema and skin irritation, also adding to the amazing ability for baby to have a sound and restful sleep. Merino wool also absorbs moisture which allows baby to be less clammy aiding with comfort during the sleep period.
Establishing a circadian rhythm
Of course, the environment alone is not going to be sufficient to resolve sleep related issues. Families can expect that baby will have a period of transition over a period of weeks and months to a circadian rhythm that supports better sleep at night and more awake periods during the day. Breastfeeding also supports this with substances in breastmilk promoting night sleep. For the first weeks and months night feeding is necessary – baby has a small stomach that does not hold a large amount of milk, and the hormones that make breastfeeding successful also are produced most fulsomely at night. However once baby has fed, it is so important to get everyone in the household back to sleep. This, says Liz, is where using a merino based sleeping bag or sheets can assist.
Using natural fibres, particularly merino wool, is such a beneficial way to assist baby and mum into sleeping patterns. In Australia we are lucky to have sustainable natural products to use and we should make the most of this as part of getting ready for baby.
Liz and her team would be happy to hear from you if you need further help and support during those first few days of your new baby’s life. Liz’s team are based in Toowoomba, Brisbane, Melbourne, Shepparton and Echuca.
Thank you to Liz for taking the time out of her busy schedule to write this article. Together with our followers and subscribers, we are grateful to you for sharing your newborn sleep tips and for suggesting parents consider a merino baby sleeping bag!