Saturday, October 15, 2011

New mommy sleep updates

The number one way to spot a new mommy is to read her Facebook statuses because they'll inevitably say something about sleep.  _________ slept ____hours last night!  seems to permeate my Facebook feed every time one of my friends has a new baby.  I know I definitely had such updates and I would guess that roughly 95% of my new mommy friends on Facebook have done the same.  Each time I read one of these updates I tend to get a little frustrated--not because of the excitement or because I think that sleep is unimportant, but because I think it says something about how we judge the worth of a parent.  

New moms want to feel validated.  Those first couple months after the birth of a baby are a very vulnerable time for new parents.  Just about everyone--stranger, friend, or foe--has a piece of advice for you.  When a lot of it conflicts, especially with your own personal beliefs, it may cause frustration, feelings of inadequacy and even depression.  Even though my baby is well beyond the newborn stage I still have random strangers ask me how my baby sleeps.  Why does it matter that much to everyone?  Why do I never seem to get questions like, "How are you enjoying your time as a mother?", "How is your bond with your baby?", or even "do you feel well-rested?"

I'm not saying that the issue of sleep should never be discussed, I just wish it didn't seem to be the only thing that was discussed in new mommy circles, mostly because I don't think it's a question that leaves most new moms feeling any better.  Here are the facts: Babies are terrible sleepers and unless sleep is forced upon them, most will continue waking at least 1-2 times a night throughout the first year.

Maybe it's silly that I feel passionate about this, but after sitting in my La Leche League meeting last week I found there were too many mothers who felt terrible about themselves because their baby wasn't sleeping through the night.  These feelings weren't borne from fatigue or exhaustion--they were borne of feelings of inadequacy.  Personally, I just don't think that's fair.  Instead of berating and belittling the mother who responds time and time again to her child's needs, why don't we celebrate that?  Why do we not celebrate self-sacrifice, when that sacrifice is willingly made?  I know that for me, my questions will change.  I think there needs to be a little more rallying, some more offers to help, and many more encouraging words.  Goodness knows, a new mom needs kind words even more than she needs 8 straight hours of sleep.


  1. That does seem to be the first question out of people's mouths, right after how old is he/she. Sleep seems to be vastly important to so many people. I always found the phrase "sleep like a baby" odd though. If anyone has had a baby, they know that really sleeping like a baby means waking up every few hours.
    My 7 month old sleeps a 6-7 hour stretch at night most nights before waking to eat (and coming into bed with me). I don't mind one bit that he isn't sleeping 12 straight hours. He'll have a lifetime of sleeping through the night by himself, I enjoy the middle of the night cuddles. I figure that if they are sleeping all night by themselves by preschool then you are doing fine.

  2. I agree with you Amy that mom's need to stop being so hard on themselves!! My 8 month old still wakes once, sometimes twice during the night to eat. I honestly think that's very normal, and with a stomach that small, I'm not surprised he is hungry!

    I do find myself asking that question, but honestly I am usually so interested to see how kids around the same age are doing with night times.