Even on baby #3, it still feels like I can’t get it “right.” Part of that is because every baby is so different. But also, what’s “right” is a moving target. Those books you read 10 years ago? Toss ‘em. That advice your doctor gave you after baby #2? That’s no longer the case either. And every mom you meet is full of advice from their own personal experience.
“Oh he’s not sleeping? Have you tried keeping him up later?”
“You should put him down to sleep earlier.”
“Stop nursing him at night.”
“Definitely nurse him at night. You don’t want your breastfeeding supply to dwindle!”
I have to remind myself the breastfeeders and the formula feeders, the co-sleepers and the never-co-sleepers all want the same thing… happy, healthy babies.
October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month. If you’re a mom, you know about SIDS. It’s our worst fear. Once we finally get over the fear of losing our baby in utero, we move on to this next phase that keeps us up at night (along with the crying newborn).
In honor of SIDS Awareness Month, let’s try something different. I’m not going to tell you to how to take care of your baby or how to create a safe sleep environment. We get enough of that, right? Instead, let’s narrow down the whole conversation to two important points.
- Babies need to breathe.
Mary Adkins, a member of the National Action Partnership to Promote Safe Sleep (NAPPSS) steering committee, agrees that moms get bombarded with enough advice.
“Parents are so tired of everyone telling them what to do and making them feel like a bad parent,” she said. “That just doesn’t work.”
Preach, sister. We are tired of it. I’ve read it all; I have a (sleep-deprived) brain; I can make my own informed decisions.
“If you think about how tiny that nose and mouth really is and how very little it takes to obstruct that. If you can get that visual and always keep the air around your baby’s nose and mouth uncompromised, the other recommendations follow logically,” Adkins said.
- Babies will exhaust you in a way you never thought imaginable.
My one year old woke up EVERY HOUR for the first 7 months of his life. Even now, he’s up once a night. The toll this takes on your body and mind is no joke. You make decisions you wouldn’t normally make—letting your baby sleep on your chest while you sleep in a recliner, for example. No judgement, I’ve done it. Is it safe, though? Absolutely not.
“Parents, especially first time parents are pretty stunned about what that baby requires,” Adkins said. “They are not prepared for how different the sleep cycle of an infant is from their own.”
Unfortunately, there’s not a national program to help military spouses with newborn sleep, but there are programs like Mission Sleep taking steps to make a difference.
And here’s something I wish somebody had told me: you’re not going crazy. This is what babies do, and it won’t last forever.
Most importantly—ask for help and accept it when it’s offered.
Military spouses often find themselves in a particularly vulnerable situation: alone with a new baby while their spouse is deployed and their families are across the country.
If you find yourself in this position, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor or your FRG leader about support groups. Take advantage of the military spouse tribe near you.
If you’re like me and you’re still not getting it “right,” don’t worry. That’s what ice cream is for.
What kept you sane during those rough, sleepless nights with your newborn? Share your encouragement in the comments!
Posted by Besa Pinchotti, Communications Director