Mummy, baby, and why it's important to get a good night’s sleep

I’m writing this blog during the afternoon of World Sleep Day 2021. The irony isn’t lost on me.

Here I sit with eyelids just about staying open, and if it weren’t for the fact that I love writing for you, I could quite happily sit at my desk and doze off!

But as the theme for the 2021 World Sleep Day is ‘Regular Sleep, Healthy Future,’ I thought I would talk to you about the importance of proper sleep. Not just catching a quick cat nap. I mean PROPER SLEEP.

You know they say that if you’re on a plane that’s going down, you should always put your own oxygen mask on before helping anyone else? Well, no matter how hard it would be to think of putting myself first, I know it makes sense.  

And it’s the same principle here. Without you, as a mum-to-be or a new mum, getting a good night’s sleep, I’ll be blunt, you’re going to be pretty flippin’ useless to everyone. Especially yourself and your baby.

Make mistakes, and grab a break

Life as a new mum is crazy, we know that! And we also think we know what to expect when it comes to sleeping, or lack of. But do we?

Because when it actually starts to happen, it can hit you like a tonne of bricks, or the feeling you can only describe as being side swiped by a juggernaut. But nothing can quite prepare you.

Don’t get me wrong, there are days when you can sit back, put your feet up and watch as your munchkin of a mini-me sleeps soundly, and you can have a little nap at the same time.

And some nights when everything goes like clockwork. And all the little niggly things float straight over your head.

You know like the scene in Snow White where she’s in the forest? And the squirrels and the birds are helping her hang the washing out? Yep, there really are some days like that! Perfect. Not that there are many squirrels hanging out my washing in Yorkshire!

But really, ladies, it is so important that you get yourself a good night’s sleep. No matter how hard you try to stay awake, keep the house clean and tidy, feed the family on time, and try to stay as ‘normal’ as you can.  

You’ll make mistakes because you’re tired. You’ll have little meltdown moments. And that’s fine. In fact, it’s all quite normal.

But take a break every now and again. Lord knows, you deserve it!

Without going into the detailed medical facts around why a good sleep pattern is vital, I’ll tell you a few reasons why we, as mums, need to get on top of it.

You’ll start to feel like you’re losing your marbles!

Lack of sleep means you are less alert, your memory function is all over the place, and you start to become clumsier. Now I’m clumsy at the best of times, so I know what it’s like to fall all over the place, and trip over thin air, completely unintentionally (and that’s before the Gin).

But it can be seriously dangerous when caring for your newborn, when you really need your wits about you.

I’ve heard talk of ‘problem-solving skills’ going out the window. Now, it’s not like you’re playing World Champion chess or anything, but even the simplest of things, like fitting the car seat (ok, maybe that’s not such a good example of simple things!) How do I get myself up and dressed, breakfasts done, school bag ready for little chap #1, and the other half off to work all at the same time as feeding and changing little chap #2?

Normally, us mums can turn our hands to anything and everything, all at the same time. But be prepared that with little or no sleep, it all becomes unfathomable!

Sleep helps with milk production

If you’re planning on breastfeeding, getting rest and proper sleep helps towards a healthy supply of milk.  

Going back to the oxygen mask on the plane scenario – keeping yourself in good condition, by default, benefits your baby.

Sleep helps build your immune system, so you can fight off those pesky sniffles and cold sores too.

And on top of everything else, if you feel you’re not providing your baby with the nutrition they need, you will feel worse about yourself. Feeling inadequate as a mummy is one of the saddest situations, yet so many of us do. Well, don’t!

Poor sleep can add pounds

I was told that poor sleep can be linked to obesity, and there is logic to it.  

The more rested you are, the more energy you will have, and you might actually want to get back to exercising. Not only that though, but the more alert you will be in choosing the best food for yourself – steering clear of the high carb, stodgy, and full fat varieties. And of course, your metabolism will get the kick start it needs to burn the pounds and ounces.

I did chuckle when I read that good sleep ‘enhances athletic performance.’ Again, the irony!

It’s as much as I can do some days to stumble into my pants. I’m hardly thinking of running a marathon or swimming the Channel! But there are those who do. So, I’ll leave it there for you to consider.

You can lose yourself in life

I know we’ve hardly been able to get out socialising much over the past 12 months or so. And I’ve mentioned before that I was almost relieved in some ways. But now we’re coming out of the stricter lockdown rules, you might find yourself worrying about seeing friends and family again.

Purely from a sleep angle, or more specifically a lack of sleep, as things start to get on top of you your confidence may drop, you may lose sight of social awareness, being able to socially interact in the ways you would have before your baby came along. And it can feel like everything is happening around you, not to you, or because of you.

As hard as it can be to explain, it’s like being in a little bubble, watching the world from inside. And, at times, not even being able to process what people are saying to you.

If any of this makes sense to you, then just know you’re not alone.

Mummy meltdown moments

Like I said, I am not going to talk in medical terms, because getting beyond the occasional meltdown is far more serious than I can discuss.   

However, if you become more and more sleep deprived, your emotions will massively shift. And you should be aware that minor outbursts of anger, frustration, and tears for no apparent reason, can build up.

All this is normal, considering the huge changes you and your body are going through.

Even if you’re not a first-time mummy, in fact, especially if you’re not a first-time mummy, your world has been turned in the most special way and you really do need as much rest as you can muster.

But if it goes way beyond just being tetchy and argumentative. And if you feel your condition is more acute than the odd ‘mummy meltdown’ please be honest with yourself if you are struggling. Seek sound medical advice.

So, what can we do to stay in our best mummy mode?

Just be you. I always make a point of not comparing myself to anyone else. And would encourage all of you to do the same. But sometimes knowing you’re not the only one going through certain phases, emotions, and experiences can help.

And all I’ve mentioned so far is pretty normal. So, give yourself a break, if you can see you in anything I’ve talked about. You’re only human afterall.

Ask for help. If you’re struggling, just be honest with yourself and those around you, and ask for help. I’ve mentioned this before. Please don’t be ashamed.

There will be times when you just need to get out. Get some fresh air. Disappear for a bath. Or even go and sit in the carwash. I know, it might sound strange, but it is one of the most peaceful places to ponder. Just don’t blame me if you fall asleep and wake up to a queue of angry people with honking horns!

Keep hydrated. I don’t mean with buckets of coffee and bottles of Gin! Water. It might sound boring, but by heck it will keep your body flushed and healthy.

But above all, look after yourself. Some days, just getting dressed is a massive achievement. Other days, hopping in the shower will make all the difference and bring you back to life.

Whatever works best for you, you are entitled. Tell them the crazy lady at Designer Baby said so!

Seriously, take care.

With much love, all at Team DB x