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How to Get More Sleep in the 4th Trimester

sleep plan for new parents

It is often difficult to have good sleep during the 4th trimester (your first three months with a newborn baby), but there are strategies can help you to get more sleep and feel more rested. By far, one of the biggest things you can do as a new parent is to prioritize your sleep as highly as caring for your newborn.

Sometimes the best way to care for your child(ren) is to take care of yourself first, so that you can best caregiver you can be.

Give yourself permission to take the time to care for yourself. Get help if you need to. Let go of everything else except caring for yourself and your newborn. Guests can visit another week. Don’t feel obligated to maintain a social calendar.

Take this time to be the best person you can be to the most important people in your life.

Your Postpartum Sleep Plan:

(A) Figure out how many hours of sleep you normally need. Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep at night.

(B) Calculate how many times you get up to care for your newborn during the night. If you head to bed immediately after completing a feeding and changing routine, and possibly a short bedtime routine for the baby, how many times are you getting up? Probably at least 2-3 times minimum, maybe up to 4-5 times depending on your baby.

(C) How long does it take to feed and change your baby and get them back to sleep each time they wake up? Probably somewhere in the range of 0.5-2 hours.
Note: This number must be calculated in hours, not minutes.

Now it’s just a simple calculation using the numbers from A, B, and C above.

A + (B x C)

For example…
(A) If I normally need 8 hours of sleep at night
(B) If I am getting up 3 times during an average night to care for my newborn
(C) Each time I get up I spend 90 minutes feeding, changing, and soothing my newborn back to sleep

Then…
8 + (3 x 1.5) = 12.5 hours

The result of your calculation is how many hours you spend in bed at night!

You do not get out of bed until you have gotten your minimum sleep while also attending to your baby’s nighttime needs.

Yes, you might need to have a family bedtime and go to bed at the same time that your older children do.

Yes, this might feel like a huge sacrifice. But it’s probably only for a few months, and when you’re awake you’ll be able to think more clearly, have more patience, and tolerate any emotional adjustments with greater ease.

Sweet dreams!

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