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New parents lose 44 days of sleep during the first year of baby’s life

My son doesn't always want to take a nap, but I always do. It's a feeling that's been hard to shake ever since I became a parent nearly two years ago. And while I'm persistently tired now, my fatigue levels were downright dangerous during those earliest days when I knew I was too sleep-deprived to operate a car. After all, if I was putting coffee in the fridge and milk in the cupboard, my reactions on the road were worthy of questioning.


For better or worse, sleep-deprivation is inevitable for new moms—even though the extent of it is something few of us fully comprehend before baby arrives. But as hard as it may be to imagine with groggy eyes, science shows new moms will sleep again.

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“Studies have examined the sleep loss associated with having an infant and determined parents lose an average of two hours of sleep per night for the first five months and then one hour per night until the age of two," says Kelly Sullivan, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University.

Sullivan studies sleep deprivation in parents and says that when the sleep patterns of women without kids are compared to those of moms, the differences are obvious—even after baby has outgrown newborn clothes.

Indeed, an informal survey of new parents in the United Kingdom found parents lose 44 days of sleep during the first year of a baby's life as they only get 5.1 hours of shut-eye during the average night.

According to Sullivan, chronic sleep deprivation can result in consequences far worse than cold coffee and spoiled milk: It is associated with increased accidents, problems concentrating, poor performance on the job and in school, and possibly, increased sickness and weight gain.

“It's important for individuals, especially those in caregiving roles, to recognize issues that increase their risk of health problems and work to maintain optimum physical and mental health in order to continue functioning at the high level that caregiving often requires."

Moms are more affected than dads

Getting the sleep we need may involve getting some help from our partners, especially as Sullivan's research of more than 5,800 adults showed dads aren't as afflicted by sleep loss as moms.

“The only factor that was independently associated with insufficient sleep for women was having children in the household," Sullivan says. “In fact, each child in the household was associated with a nearly 50% increase in a woman's odds of insufficient sleep. Conversely, men's sleep was not associated with having children in the household."

She says the reasons for the gender disparity are beyond the scope of her study, but biological factors like pregnancy and the demands of breastfeeding could play a role in why women get less rest.

It's important to start healthy sleep habits—for everyone

Sullivan notes that while infancy is a particularly challenging period for parents, the demands of parenting aren't limited to those early days. She says that's why moms should prioritize rest even as the kids outgrow the newborn phase and head into childhood.

“Sleep needs and challenges differ and the approach to address sleep challenges needs to be individualized," she says. “For some women, that will include enlisting the help of friends and family. For others, stress management techniques and exercise may help."

Remember: You will sleep again

I started feeling better when my husband began taking every other night with the baby. This allowed me to spend three or four nights a week sleeping alone in my room, wearing earplugs and knowing my baby was safe with his dad.

Eventually, my son started sleeping through the night, and taking shifts was no longer necessary. I'm not the only one with a story of hope: Self-described new dad and data nerd Reddit user jitney86 shared his personal journey with parental sleep deprivation in the form of a graph after he and his wife meticulously tracked their baby's life in 15 minute increments from three months to 17 months old.

When the data was plotted visually it showed a shift from erratic newborn behavior to more consistent sleep patterns.

“This is so affirming of my own experience as a parent!" another Reddit user replied. “It's anarchy! And you simply have to surrender to the chaos. Then close to around a year they become a normal human, and then [you] return to being a normal human."

Those extended sleep periods—for parents and babies—were also demonstrated in a 2010 study published in the journal Pediatrics, which found babies' sleep habits rapidly improved in the first months of life. The researchers also found that by baby's first birthday, 85% of parents could also celebrate consistently uninterrupted nights of sleep.

That's further proof that sleeping soundly doesn't happen overnight with a new baby in the house—but it will happen.

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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