Confessions of a Sleep Consultant: The Jett Diaries; Week Five

We are finally getting back to normality; well, the inconsistent normality in the life of a newborn anyway! This past week we have been focused on healing (on all levels) from the lip and tongue tie ordeal. The most significant shift for us both was an NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) session we had with the lovely Kim from Lotus Chiro. NET is used to remove the negative emotion (fear/anxiety/stress/trauma/sadness) associated with a particular life event – and it’s manifestation in the body. In many cases we can continue to feel pain in our bodies well after the physical healing has taken place, as we subconsciously ‘hold on’ to the trauma or pain of the memory. Almost immediately following this session, I felt a positive change in both of us; not really a surprise since we are the one entity, and our boundaries inextricably blurred when it comes to feeling pain and emotion.

Five weeks on, and Jett has well and truly “woken up”. Gone is the sweet little boy who went to sleep without a fuss in his bassinet for 2hr + naps during the day. Enter the catnapping little devil with a fear of missing out. Most likely co-inciding with his first developmental leap, he is now increasingly alert (more aware of his body and surroundings), sleeps less during the day, engages more (especially with his brother and sister), smiles and coos, and expresses his extreme discomfort; with wind, and being left alone for longer than two minutes!

I’ve mentioned it previously in these entries, and like a broken record in my blogs and online Sleep Plans; acknowledging your baby’s need for a Fourth Trimester is paramount to your sanity, survival, and acceptance of life with a newborn in the first 3 months. This is also very important for secure attachment (which fosters the mother-baby bond and foundations for your baby’s emotional intelligence and various other life skills). In a nutshell, the fourth trimester is about making the transition from womb to world as smooth, comfortable and peaceful as possible for your baby (and you). The idea behind this is that all babies are born 3 months prematurely (ideally the optimal length of time for development in the womb would be an extra 3 months – total 12 months). The reason we give birth at 9 months and not 12, is that our baby’s heads would not fit through the birth canal post 9 months (ouch!!). Because of this, when our babies are born, although complete whole people deserving of our respect, they are completely dependent on us, and have very limited control over their physical body. By replicating the womb environment for the first 3 months of life on the outside (where they would ideally still be developing in the womb), we can help eliminate some of the fussiness, crying and stress associated with the newborn stage (the foreign, and sometimes painful experience of ‘coming into’ their own bodies). Paediatrician, Harvey Karp, promotes the use of the 5 S System to switch on our baby’s calming reflex and effectively settle them at times where they may be crying due to over stimulation, over tiredness, colic, gas/wind pain etc.

I am letting go of all expectations around sleep and routine for now, because I know I can’t control it; and attempting to, only brings defeat, stress and angst. Babies are actually very capable of self regulating when it comes to sleeping and feeding (providing they otherwise healthy and well). The exception to this is when they are experiencing a leap, illness, teething, colic, reflux, pain etc. Until 10-12 weeks, our baby’s circadian rhythm (body clock) is still developing – so catnapping, and inconsistent sleep times can be expected -usually this is more of an issue for us parents, than the baby!

My top routine tips for the first 3 months are:
* Go with the flow
* Baby wear – babies LOVE movement and being close to mum. If you are going to wear your baby around the clock, you may as well look the part; hence my new obsession with Oscha Slings and Baby Carriers.. I am constantly adding to my very long wishlist of beautiful (and expensive) woven wrap designs
* Keep them warm – they’ve come from a cosy 37 °C on the inside
* Introduce a dummy – it will satisfy your baby’s sucking reflex which calms them (just don’t use it as a meal replacement)
* Make a noise, or use white noise – babies are lulled to sleep all day in the womb with muffled sounds as loud as a vacuum cleaner. For this reason, background noise is very comforting to them; and silence, unsettling
* Swaddle for bedtimes – replicate the cramped comfort of the womb
* Try to avoid stretching the awake time too much past 60 mins in the initial 8 weeks (1hr 15 – 1.5hrs closer to 10-12 weeks).
*  If you find you have a catnapper on your hands (sleeping for only 20-30 mins – or less), then continue to place your baby back to bed after 20-30 mins – or they will become overtired, and even more difficult to get to sleep later in the day.
* Anywhere between 45 min – 2hr is a great nap length
* Follow your baby’s sleep cues  – these will let you know your baby’s optimal awake window
* Natural sunlight during the day helps establish their circadian rhythm, helps avoid day/night confusion, and aids melatonin production (sleep hormone)
* If breastfeeding, don’t be tempted to cut down night feeds too soon. There are many benefits to breastfeeding overnight. In addition to melatonin, your evening and nighttime breastmilk is rich with other sleep-inducing and brain-boosting amino acids – encouraging sleep, and development of their circadian rhythm in the first 3 months
* Ensure they don’t sleep for longer than 2hrs at a time during the day (otherwise you run the risk of them not sleeping as long stretches overnight)
* Feed regularly during the day – every 2-3 hours is average (this too will ensure they are not awake all night making up for missed feeds)
* Sleep your baby in a light room for all naps until 6 weeks (to avoid day/night confusion) – Catnapping being the exception

Until next week….with love,
Sophie & Jett xoxo

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