How to Get Sleep with a New Baby

Melissa's doula, Una.

I’m not completely sure why, but most women seem to believe that we have to be able to do everything and do it well. I believe this is even more true as a mom. In preparing for the birth of our second daughter, this came up for me again when my sister suggested that I hire someone to help us with the baby. I balked at the idea – after all, wasn’t I supposed to be able to handle everything? I had done ok with our first (although I admit that I was overtired, overwhelmed, and over-extended). Shouldn’t I be more prepared for number two? Inside though, I was secretly thrilled with the idea that I might actually be able to get some sleep in the first few weeks post-delivery.

After months of putting it off (because I didn’t want to admit I needed help, and because it was very expensive), I finally reached out on Facebook to ask for some local resources. Friends recommended a local doula agency and began to discuss hiring a postpartum doula for nights. We signed a contact for two weeks postpartum.

Bringing home our daughter was overwhelming—even though we’d done it before—and our first night home, when Chris, our doula walked in the door at 10pm, I have never felt more relieved to see a virtual stranger! That night, Chris helped me through my difficulties with nursing, gave me lots of advice and support. She kept me company when I was up and sent me to bed as soon as Julia was fed. She did our laundry, tidied the kitchen, and rocked the baby so that she could sleep long enough to let me rest. I felt like crying the next morning when she left!

We ended up extending our contract for an extra week. Four nights a week for three weeks does not seem like a lot on paper but it was a lifetime for us. We looked forward to knowing that every other night, we would get a longer stretch of sleep since the doula could rock and soothe the baby in between feedings. While I know that all of us (moms) are capable of doing everything we put our minds to, I’m not sure it’s necessary to do alone (even with supportive partners). Sometimes, strength lies in knowing when to ask for help!

4 Responses to “How to Get Sleep with a New Baby”

  1. My son is 8 months old and absolutely hates sleep. I have tried adjusting his bedtime several times and no time works. He takes only 30 minute naps lately twice a day during the day. I tried putting him to bed at 5:30 (which is exactly 3 hours after his last “mini” nap). He will wake up again at 6:30 screaming and won’t go back to sleep, he thinks it’s just a nap. I’ve tried adjusting his bedtime several times and nothing seems to help. He’s well fed, clean, etc. Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

  2. I breastfed and bed shared with my newborn (and still do) and got more sleep than any new mom I know. And I’m a single mom! I got between 8-10 hours a sleep a night once I learned to nurse while side-lying.

  3. Christine Golcher

    Hi Debbie! I just happened to see this on Facebook this morning! How kind of you to write about your experience! I was so surprised to see my name!! I hope you are all doing well. You are by the far the most welcoming family I have worked with so far! All the best! Chris

4 Responses to “How to Get Sleep with a New Baby”

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