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What If You Can't Nap When Baby Naps?

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“If you’re tired, just sleep when your baby sleeps.”

Sounds familiar? If you’re a new or expecting mama, you’ve probably heard this more times that you can count. In theory, it’s a great recommendation! But in practice… it doesn’t work for everyone.

We’ll start with the most obvious problem: many new moms have to go back to work a few weeks after their babies are born and don’t have the luxury of catnapping throughout the day. (Though hats off to you if you’ve figured out how to pump and nap simultaneously at work!)

But even for those mamas who are at home with their babies, it’s oftentimes impractical to snooze during the day. We’re busy ladies; we have tasks to accomplish! Most stay-at-home moms are also the primary family caretakers and, as such, are responsible for household chores such as cooking, cleaning and laundry. One new mama recently said to me, “I’ll sleep when my baby sleeps… if I can cook when he cooks and clean when he cleans.” While in theory we could sleep during the day, an overflowing laundry basket often seems more urgent.

Lastly, maybe you don’t want to use the limited quiet moments of your day for sleeping. As a new mom, I found it much more appealing to watch an episode of Scandal, read some chick lit, or serenely cook dinner without having to simultaneously bounce my son’s Baby Bjorn with my foot. I was exhausted, but still needed time to do something to feel like me.

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So, without further ado, some recommendations for mamas (or papas) who can’t (or don’t want to) sleep while their babies sleep, but also need to be functioning humans during daylight hours.

1. Schedule some time for yourself. Once your baby’s nap schedule has become more predictable (usually around 4-5 months), use your newfound freedom to reclaim some much-needed “me” time. While many of your baby’s naps may be dedicated to household chores or work, be sure to intentionally schedule in some time for yourself. One of my clients recently told me that no matter what tasks she has to complete that day, she always reads for 30 minutes during her baby’s morning nap. If you’re a working parent, be sure to schedule in some time for you during weekend naptime.

2. Ensure that the quality of your nighttime sleep is as good as it can get. Our bodies are designed to sleep in quiet, cool and dark environments. If you’re room-sharing with your baby (or even just a snoring partner), I highly suggest using white noise. If you live in a big city with lots of ambient light filtering into your bedroom, invest in high-quality blackout curtains to create a super dark sleep environment.

3. Unplug an hour before bedtime. New parents tend to be super attached to their smartphones: that's how they connect to the outside world, and many use apps to track their babies eating and sleeping patterns (while also being sucked into the black hole of social media). No one’s taking away your beloved Instagram feed, but do try to unplug 1-2 hours before bedtime. Studies show that people who are exposed to screen time before bedtime not only have trouble falling asleep but also feel less well-rested the next day.

4. Bedtime routine for the win. Just like babies need bedtime routines, so do parents. Create a short, predictable routine 20-30 minutes before bedtime that will signal to your brain to calm down. There’s no “right” routine -- you do you. It could be reading a book, doing bedtime yoga, journaling, or just chatting with your partner about your day.

5. Caffeinate wisely. Holistic Nutrition Coach Andrea Moss says that she survived her new mama haze by opting for espresso twice per day instead of drinking drip coffee throughout the day. She notes that, contrary to popular belief, a double shot of espresso actually contains less caffeine than a 6 or 8-oz cup of drip coffee; plus it contains natural oils found in espresso beans make it easier to digest and metabolize. The takeaway? Opt for an espresso or frothy cappuccino instead of day-long drip coffee binges. You’ll get a gentle caffeine boost without a drastic drop in energy levels later in the day.

Hadley Seward is a certified sleep consultant and founder of Bonne Nuit Baby. Based in France and New York City, she works with exhausted parents around the world to get their kids’ sleep back on track. Meet her + follow her adventures at @hadleyinfrance.

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If there's one thing you learn as a new mama, it's that routine is your friend. Routine keeps your world spinning, even when you're trucking along on less than four hours of sleep. Routine fends off tantrums by making sure bellies are always full and errands aren't run when everyone's patience is wearing thin. And routine means naps are taken when they're supposed to, helping everyone get through the day with needed breaks.

The only problem? Life doesn't always go perfectly with the routine. When my daughter was born, I realized quickly that, while her naps were the key to a successful (and nearly tear-free!) day, living my life according to her nap schedule wasn't always possible. There were groceries to fetch, dry cleaning to pick up, and―if I wanted to maintain any kind of social life―lunch dates with friends to enjoy.

Which is why the Ergobaby Metro Compact City Stroller was such a life-saver. While I loved that it was just 14 pounds (perfect for hoisting up the stairs to the subway or in the park) and folds down small enough to fit in an airplane overhead compartment (you know, when I'm brave enough to travel again!), the real genius of this pint-sized powerhouse is that it doesn't skimp on comfort.

Nearly every surface your baby touches is padded with plush cushions to provide side and lumbar support to everything from their sweet head to their tiny tush―it has 40% more padding than other compact strollers. When nap time rolls around, I could simply switch the seat to its reclined position with an adjustable leg rest to create an instant cozy nest for my little one.

There's even a large UV 50 sun canopy to throw a little shade on those sleepy eyes. And my baby wasn't the only one benefiting from the comfortable design― the Metro is the only stroller certified "back healthy" by the AGR of Germany, meaning mamas get a much-needed break too.

I also appreciate how the Metro fits comfortably into my life. The sleek profile fits through narrow store aisles as easily as it slides up to a table when I'm able to meet a pal for brunch. Plus, the spring suspension means the tires absorb any bumps along our way―helping baby stay asleep no matter where life takes us. When it's time to take my daughter out, it folds easily with one hand and has an ergonomic carry handle to travel anywhere we want to go.

Life will probably never be as predictable as I'd like, but at least with our Metro stroller, I know my child will be cradled with care no matter what crosses our path.

This article is sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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It's been more than a year since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter True Thompson into the world, and like a lot of new moms, Khloé didn't just learn how to to be a mom this year, she also learned how to co-parent with someone who is no longer her partner. According to the Pew Research Center, co-parenting and the likelihood that a child will spend part of their childhood living with just one parent is on the rise.

There was a ton of media attention on Khloé's relationship with True's father Tristan Thompson in her early days of motherhood, and in a new interview on the podcast "Divorce Sucks!," Khloé explained that co-parenting with someone you have a complicated relationship with isn't always easy, but when she looks at True she knows it's worth it.

"For me, Tristan and I broke up not too long ago so it's really raw," Khloé tells divorce attorney Laura Wasser on the podcast. She explains that even though it does "suck" at times, she's committed to having a good relationship with her ex because she doesn't want True to pick up on any negative energy, even at her young age.

That's why she invited Tristan to True's recent first birthday bash, even though she knew True wouldn't remember that party. "I know she's going to want to look back at all of her childhood memories like we all do," Khloé explained. "I know her dad is a great person, and I know how much he loves her and cares about her, so I want him to be there."

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We totally get why being around Tristan is hard for Khloé, but it sounds like she's approaching co-parenting with a positive attitude that will benefit True in the long run. Studies have found that shared parenting is good for kids and that former couples who have "ongoing personal and emotional involvement with their former spouse" are more likely to rate their co-parenting relationship positively.

Khloé says her relationship with Tristan right now is "civilized," and hopefully it can get even better with time. As Suzanne Hayes noted in her six guiding principles for a co-parenting relationship, there's no magic bullet for moving past the painful feelings that come when a relationship ends and into a healthy co-parenting relationship, but treating your ex with respect and (non-romantic) love is a good place to start. Hayes describes it as "human-to-human, parent-to-parent, we-share-amazing-children-and-always-will love."

It's a great place to start, and it sounds like Khloé has already figured that out.

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Kim Kardashian West welcomed her fourth child into the world. The expectancy and arrival of this boy (her second child from surrogacy) has garnered much attention.

In a surrogacy pregnancy, a woman carries a pregnancy for another family and then after giving birth she relinquishes her rights of the child.

On her website, Kim wrote that she had medical complications with her previous pregnancy leading her to this decision. “I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy. Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn't safe for my—or the baby's—health to carry on my own."

While the experience was challenging for her, “The connection with our baby came instantly and it's as if she was with us the whole time. Having a gestational carrier was so special for us and she made our dreams of expanding our family come true. We are so excited to finally welcome home our baby girl."

A Snapchat video hinted that Kim may have planned to breastfeed her third child. What she chooses to do is of course none of our business. But is has raised the very interesting question, “Wait, can you breastfeed when you use a surrogate?"

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The answer is yes, you sure can! (And you can when you adopt a baby, too!)

When a women is pregnant, she begins a process called lactogenesis in which her body prepares itself to start making milk. This usually starts around the twenty week mark of pregnancy (half way through). Then, when the baby is born, the second phase of lactogenesis occurs, and milk actually starts to fill the breasts.

All of this occurs in response to hormones. When women do not carry a pregnancy, but wish to breastfeed, they can induce lactation, where they replicate the same hormonal process that happens during pregnancy.

A woman who wants to induce lactation can work with a doctor or midwife, and start taking the hormones estrogen and progesterone (which grow breast tissue)—often in the form of birth control pills—along with a medication called domperidone (which increases milk production).

Several weeks before the baby will be born, the woman stops taking the birth control pill but continues to take the domperidone to simulate the hormonal changes that would happen in a pregnancy. She'll also start pumping multiple times per day, and will likely add herbal supplements, like fenugreek and blessed thistle.

Women can also try to induce lactation without the hormones, by using pumping and herbs, it may be harder but some women feel more comfortable with that route.

Inducing lactation takes a lot of dedication—but then again, so does everything related to be a mama. It's a super personal decision, and not right for everyone.

The important thing to remember is that we need to support women and mothers through their entire journey, no matter what decisions they make about themselves and their families—whether Kardashian or the rest of us.

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