The Sleep Schedule of a Newborn

First off: Sleep Schedule….Baaaahhhaaahahaaaaa. What a funny idea. So by “sleep schedule” I should clarify this in no way implies regularity or predictability. In fact you should know the exact opposite is true. There was one thing I’ve read in the past month that has really stuck with me. It said something to the effect of “your baby doesn’t have a sleep problem, they are getting exactly what they need, you are the one with the sleep problem”. So true smart person, so true. Okay so I should go back and tell you that I think I have it a little bit better than some people. I have read horror stories of babies waking up every hour all night long and those that won’t go back to sleep. So I should thank my lucky stars and say that, so far, Nugget has been a pretty good baby. But you should also know that the notion of “sleeping through the night” is lost in this household. I have read lots about breastfed babies waking up more often because they digest the milk more quickly and they know the supply is nearby.
So here is what our “sleep schedule” typically looks like…..FYI if you are bored to crap by this subject apologies. I am a boring person these days. I promise it will (probably) get better.

  • 8pmish (meaning anywhere from 7:30-9:30pm) Jack lets me know he is “done” for the day. From weeks 3-5 this meant “I am going to scream uncontrollably for an hour or two and you can’t fix it in any way”. The first night that happened I thought he was just really hungry and he ended up trying to nurse off and on for about two hours. This meant that the next day my boobs about exploded! Insane. So for those unfamiliar, basically these first few weeks of nursing is teaching your boobs how much milk to make. When your baby eats regularly then your boobs get regulated on how much to make. But when you have random days where your baby goes on an “eating-fest” your boobs think “oh shit we’re not making enough milk! GO GO GO!” and they overproduce. This “engorgment” results in your boobs feeling like rocks….painful rocks. But the plus side is I have a freezer full of milk stocked up for when I go back to work. Thanks engorged boobs!
    Anyway, the “hours” of crying have subsided and I smartened up to the fact that this “melt down” is his signal that he needs to be out of a stimulating environment and that I need to put him to bed. Basically these first few weeks of motherhood are all about your baby teaching you shit and have nothing to do with you controlling anything about your life. The less you try to control things and just say “fuck it, let’s go with the flow” the better off you will be. And my best advice is, if your baby is screaming uncontrollably, don’t panic. They will live through it and so will you. Try to detach yourself from the situation and pretend you are just an outside observer instead of their mother. It is easy to feel like you should be doing something to fix them, this will just overwhelm you when you can’t fix them. So stay calm. This to shall pass and shit.
  • 10pmish (you get that these aren’t that exact right?) Nugget goes to sleep. Usually by nursing. I have started to try some techniques from the “no-cry” book I am reading on extending your baby’s sleep. These techniques include things like detaching your baby before they are fully asleep so they get used to falling asleep without nursing. This is fun stuff and almost always results in me giving in and nursing him completely to sleep. Some other techniques I am implementing are moving him into his co-sleeper. Usually this is only accomplished by the third try. Third times the charm. I will move him, he’ll wake up and I put him back on my boob. Move again. Nope not gonna cooperate just yet. Third time: okay fine, I will stay here. You may think I am moving him too early, but I assure you I have been doing the 20-minute wait period and the limp arm test. Where you see if they are really awake by lifting their arm to see if it is really floppy. My midwife told me something at our day 2 appointment and it has stuck with me “babies do things six times slower than we’d like them to”. Again, relax and go with it.
  • 12amish Nugget wakes up to eat. Usually my eyes pop open at his first movement noises, but sometimes he starts fussing a little before I wake up. I grab him, pull out my boob and let him go to town. Now at this point I should try to stay awake and move him back into the co-sleeper when he is done…..this has happened maybe once in the last 6 weeks. Usually once he has achieved nipple-latch I promptly fall back asleep. This is our golden time. Nugget gives mom and dad the gift of a 3-4.5 hour nap. Score! Again I say usually because every once in a while he will pop his eyes open at 1:30-2pm and start eating again. If when he is still beside me in bed I do the whole “grab, roll and switch”. This is where I grab Jack, roll him over the top of me to the other boob and he latches on there….and you guessed it, I fall back asleep.
  • 4amish Nugget wakes up to eat again. Most of the time we just switch sides and fall back asleep, but usually this is when his diaper has met its limit. BTW we are cloth diapering during the day now and doing disposables at night and when we go places. I will most likely tell you all about this later (hold onto that excitement peeps!). SO if I don’t wake up enough to change his diaper it often spells disaster because I will wake up at 5 or 6 when I feel warm pee on my stomach. So I try my darndest to get to his diaper at 4, which makes him super mad that I don’t let him eat first, then I put him back on my boob and pass out. Sometimes Jack decides he is up for the day at this point, but most of the time he will go back to sleep until at least 5:30 and sometimes until 7am! Go Jack!
  • 5:30amish. If Jack wakes up at 5:30, like he did this morning, then it is usually because he needs to poop. Today, as an example, this process was not fun. He was having trouble and I was exhausted, so I am trying to hold him up in the standing position (his best pooping position, let gravity work for you) but I was also having trouble keeping my eyes open. He was mad from 5:30-7am. When I gave up and let Andy take over the “pooping coaching” and I snuck in another hour nap. I think I have been eating too much salad lately and he has bad gas. In my own expert opinion I guage what his bowels are doing by what mine have been doing….this could be total crap by the way, I am not an expert. That is just what i think….and I have been gasy. Sorry little dude.
  • 7ish. Again sometimes Jack will make it until 7 without waking up and then I feed him and either get up for the day or we sneak in another nap. Last week I was so exhausted, from what I beieve was too much crazy grandma time, and we repeated these steps until almost 10am. It was glorious and I was so well rested. But then I realized that starting May 9th I am going to be getting up at 5:30am again and need to not get too used to sleeping until 10 everyday. So since then we have tried to get on a schedule…..hahahaha. I still make myself laugh with that word.
  • Since the impending “going back to work” is approaching I have been setting the alarm and trying to see if that will regulate Jack to nurse at 5am everyday. The idea being that it will be his last nursing before I leave the house. But so far…..well it needs some work.

I think when it comes to going back to work, this is what I dread the most. Thank goodness my boss is super flexible so if I show up at 8am instead of 7:30 because Jack can’t be bothered to nurse right when I wake up, we should be okay. I haven’t figured out yet if I will try to pump before I leave for work, so Andy has a warm bottle ready to feed him or if we’ll be pulling it out of the fridge……so many unknowns. My stance “play it by ear”. You can only control so much and babies aren’t one of the things you can control. I will keep you all posted how the rest of this week and next goes. Maybe I will surprise myself and by May 9th he’ll be waking up at 5am, nursing and going back to sleep for dad. Maybe I will be going into work at 9am on my first day after a dramatic morning of crazy unpredictability. One things for sure, I am going to look ridiculously tired on May 9th. Goodbye luxurious days of sleeping in with nothing to do….I will miss you. For those on Maternity leave or soon/someday to be on maternity leave: don’t plan anything before 11am when you are on leave. Let yourself sleep in if you can and don’t feel bad about it. If it’s your first baby too, we will probably never be able to do that again. So take advantage.

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5 thoughts on “The Sleep Schedule of a Newborn

  1. I love reading this stuff. It sounds like you have an awesome "go with the flow" attitude about it. I must admit though, I completely yawned during this post. Not out of bordom (I swear), but from reading about the lack of sleep you are operating on. You're rockin it.

  2. Awww, love you so much for GETTING IT so soon! I remember it seemed endless for so long, not sleeping through the night (although I am super proud of you for just whipping out the boob and going back to sleep, peeps, IT WORKS, and decreases how much you have to wake up…thus increasing sleep) Now, this seems like a blip in the scheme of our years together. No worries too, I didn't even push the co-sleeper for at least 3 months, and my girls now sleep solidly all night, in their room, no problems. You are doing awesome as a Mommy lady, just like I knew you would!

  3. I read the subject line of this and snarfed at you. And then I read the post and related! On the upside, Mac slept for over FIVE hours last night and went SIX hours between feedings. I had fed and gone to bed and E kept him for another hour. Dude, I got SIX straight hours of sleep for the first time in SIX weeks. Niiiiice.

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