Sleep. It’s crucial to life and healthy function. We need it, look forward to it (unless, of course, you’re a toddler), and enjoy it. And we know to expect less of it once we have a baby. It is the biological norm that babies will wake up every 2-3 hours to eat for the first month or two. For one, they don’t eat much at a feeding. Secondly, their sleep cycles are shorter than ours (50-60 mins compared to an adult’s 90-100 mins). This doesn’t mean that a baby wakes up every hour (they may, but that’s not what I’m getting at). So what does this mean? We are only about halfway through a cycle when our baby could wake up needing to be fed. Your body and mind aren’t able to restore themselves when you’re woken up in the middle of a deep sleep.
When can you sleep when you have a new baby?
We’ve all heard it: “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Is that really possible? Maybe if it’s your first child you can since the baby is the only one dependent on you. What about everything else that needs to be done? Showering, laundry, cooking, entertaining visitors. There are still demands on a new mom, even with just one baby. Now, add a toddler or older child to the mix. If you sleep when the baby sleeps during the day, what’s your toddler doing?
But you need sleep
Doulas aren’t just for birth support. A postpartum doula can come during the day, or overnight, and help. During the day you can take a nap while your doula keeps an eye on your newborn, prepares lunch or dinner, or entertains your older child. At night, you can minimize the amount of time you need to be awake, or sleep through the night depending on how you’re feeding your baby. By far, my most common request is for overnight postpartum help.
How can I benefit from overnight help?
Whether you are breastfeeding, pumping, or giving your baby artificial milk (formula), having overnight help will allow you to get more sleep. Our support is tailored to meet the needs of your family; how it looks can change from night to night. There isn’t a “right” way to have our doulas support you, but I’m going to go over the more popular ways we work with clients overnight.
If you are breastfeeding, we can bring the baby (and some snacks and water) to you to nurse. After you’re done nursing, you can go back to sleep. Your doula will burp, change, swaddle, and settle your baby back to sleep. If your baby is fussy between feedings, you don’t have to lose sleep over it (literally). We’ve also had overnight clients request we bring the baby to them at every other feeding and give the baby a bottle in between.
If your baby is less than a month old, I don’t recommend making a habit of skipping feedings as it can negatively impact your milk supply. However, skipping a night feeding once or twice a week shouldn’t pose any serious threats to your supply. An alternative would be to wake up and pump for 10-15 minutes in between the feedings when you nurse.
If you are exclusively pumping, continue with your regular pumping schedule and then go back to sleep right after. We will feed your baby and meet his other needs in the overnight period. You don’t even have to wash your pump parts – leave them in the sink and we will take care of them.
If your baby is exclusively formula fed, you can go to sleep when your doula arrives and she will take over caring for your baby.
How does overnight support work?
Overnight shifts are from 9:00pm until 6:00am. During each shift we will log when your baby ate, how much (if applicable), and their diaper changes. At the end of the shift your doula can either brief you (or your partner) on how the night went, or leave the night log on a table and quietly slip out.
The Gift of Sleep
We’ve had many clients be gifted sleep from family members and friends, most commonly as a gift for their baby shower, anniversary, or birthday. How nice would it be to go out for your birthday or anniversary and then be able to extend the “celebration” by getting a full night of sleep?
Additional Services Offered by Blissful Birthing