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Newborns, sleep + the 4th trimester: One sleep consultant's plan for everyone to get some rest 😴

6 tips to prepare for your newborn's sleep (or lack thereof).

Newborns, sleep + the 4th trimester: One sleep consultant's plan for everyone to get some rest 😴

The first few months of a baby's life can be an equally joyous and demotivating experience for new parents. Most of them make it through the fourth trimester unscathed but exhausted, with only a vague memory of the life-changing sleep deprivation they endured. 

But not me.

As a sleep consultant who works with new parents, I'm reminded daily of how hectic the first few months after birth can be. And I'll admit that as I head into the last month of my pregnancy, I'm getting nervous. What sort of sleeper will my daughter be? Will my preschooler have a sleep regression as a result of all the change in his life? Most importantly, will I ever sleep again?

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Even though I know that my future almost certainly will contain lots of sleep deprivation, I'm still going into it with a positive attitude and a loose plan.

Here's how I'm preparing for my little lady's sleep (or lack thereof), and how you can also prepare for the arrival of yours.

1. Create an ideal sleep environment for your baby.

Itty bitty newborns will sleep anywhere, anytime. But as they get older, it's important that we control their environments. We want to create a dark, quiet and consistent space for them to get some ZZZs. With this in mind, I have a white noise machine ready to go, along with blackout curtains and a very dim night light so overnight feeds are as ninja-like as possible. Since I'm a huge proponent of safe sleep guidelines, she'll be sleeping in a bassinet by our bed wearing a swaddle sack.

2. Try a sleep tracking app.

The key to keeping a newborn well-rested is very short awake times, as most can't comfortably stay awake for more than 45 minutes without becoming overtired. While it's always good to follow sleepy cues, I also find that a sleep app can help moms stay on track.

My favorites are Total Baby and Baby Tracker. Some baby monitors, like the Nanit or the Lollipop, can also help you keep track of your little one's sleep patterns.

3. Mark your calendar for the 6-8 week sleep milestone.

Around this time, day/night confusion ends, which means that nighttime sleep hopefully consolidates into 4-6 hour stretches. While four hours of uninterrupted sleep may not seem like a lot right now, trust me, when the time comes, you'll feel like you've won the lottery.

4. Enlist extra support.

I've asked my husband in advance to try to come home early from work during the 6-8 week period. Why? At this age, long bouts of “purple crying" in the early evening can become more frequent. This is also known as the witching hour, and it happens to the best of us—even sleep researchers aren't sure why it happens. Also around six to eight weeks, babies become much more alert during the day, which means more hands-on attention from caregivers. Knowing that I'll likely be fried by 5pm, I know I'd love for him (or anyone, really!) to lend a helping hand as evening approaches.

5. Remind yourself that at some point your baby needs to start learning to sleep at home.

Newborns are super portable and love nothing more than to snuggle up for naps in the carrier or stroller. But as they hit the 3-month mark, it's time to focus on helping them learn to also sleep at home in their crib/bassinet for naps. Otherwise, you'll be in for a big surprise when the 4-month sleep regression hits. Around this age, begin to prioritize naps at home and also start to give your little one short opportunities to self-soothe at nap- and/or bedtime.

6. Give yourself some grace.

No matter how much knowledge about newborn sleep that you or I have going into the fourth trimester, we have to roll with the punches. During the tough days, remind yourself that this is a phase. There's light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how unattainable it may seem. Do your best and remember that one day this will all be a hazy memory. You've got this, mama.

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By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Life

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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