How to cope with newborn sleep deprivation

Can you give Sheri some advice? She writes

 “I have a three-week old newborn and I am finding the night wakings really difficult. My partner has just gone back to work and he works with heavy machinery, so it’s not safe for him to be sleep-deprived, which means I’m in charge of all the night wakings. I know it’s early days, but I feel exhausted! What do other new mums do in these circumstances? I am already thinking of how it would be if I have another baby someday and trying to handle a toddler and a newborn on no sleep!”


How to cope with newborn sleep deprivation, some of the shared experiences of mothers on our Breastmates Facebook Page.  Feel welcome to read through these and take or leave whatever advise helps you.

These days won’t last so hang in there!!

Kia kaha mama


Safe co-sleeping with side-lying breastfeeding is a game changer to get more sleep.


With my first baby I just slept when he did, just have to let house work slide and take help from family with meals or make easy dinners. With second baby, morning coffee is my best friend and luckily my 2.5 year old still has a lunch sleep so I sleep with they are both having their naps


At night i used to go into the lounge and breast feed. I would put on the tv to the channel that has live cameras all around the world as it played relaxing music. I’d prepare snacks and a drink for myself also earlier so it was ready for me with pillows and blanket on the couch or lazyboy. This way my partner didn’t get disturbed and i would either fall back asleep with bub or if he went down he went back into the cot. Most times bub slept better with me.
Definitely do housework when baby is awake and sleep when they sleep….thats the life saver !!


I was a single mum with my bubs from about 8 weeks old. It does get easier but the sleepless nights are so so hard. Personally I pushed thru and did not nap during the day, then because I was so exhausted I slept very easy, like less than 5mins before I’m asleep again. That might not work for you and I had a older child to get to and from school so I had to be up early also. But you can try sleeping when baby sleeps. Accept offers to help, even someone holding the baby so you can grab a quick shower or hang the washing out is great. I don’t know how we do it, but somehow we just do. ?


I just did it somehow. I had 5 yr old twins and a newborn and my partner away working for weeks on end. It was a blur on pilot mode but we got there. Napped in the daytime with bubs on my chest if i had to..


Co sleep and sleep during the day


I was and still am in the same position as you. My partner never helped with nights. I got by with safe bed sharing and napping whenever i could. Side lying breastfeeding in bed was the best! I really feel for you though because i remember how horrendous the first few weeks are for sleep. It does get better ?


Definitely rest whenever you can. Eat lots of good food. Drink lots of water. Ask your partner to help with the essential housework and ignore the rest. Do some research into bed sharing? Might not be your thing but it was a saviour to me. I found myself falling asleep when feeding so I thought better to do it safely. I’d say it gets better but I think we just get used to it! Babe will become more efficient at feeding and the length of awake time becomes less. Be kind to yourself. It is hard.


I went to bed at 8 after a feed- my other half did the 11ish feed and then me 1 or 2 o’clock feed. Gave me a good 5hrs uninterrupted sleep and he didn’t feel guilty about not waking for the later ones- needs a bit of work expressing but was a life saver for me.


To be honest, the second baby is easier because you’re used to being tired 😀  But – as above, maybe your partner could feed baby and expressed bottle at 10pmish while you go to bed early. Also remember to catch up on sleep on his day off.


Exactly the same scenario for me – safe cosleeping has worked for all three of mine, husband never wakes


The first 6 weeks were the hardest in my life, the next six were slightly easier. My first baby did not sleep at all during the day and rarely let me put her down as she had reflux, I wanted to scream wage people said sleep when the baby sleeps. Eventually I began to go to bed at 7pm and had expressed enough for hubby to do a dream feed at 10pm. Then I could at least get a four to five hour stretch of sleep which was manageable. It got easier and when I had baby number two I was amazed to find that he had a two hour nap every day. Bliss. You will get through this and you will look back and say wow I survived. Then when you open your bag finding a note saying “I love you mum” you will know it was all worth it. X


Let your self conquer this part of your journey before worrying about toddler, NB combos.


If it is safe for you to co-sleep, try that.


Find out what works for you, I used to play on my phone during night feeds, others found this “woke them up” more. Also, this will sound odd, but after putting baby down, I used to say to myself “ooh, I hope I get 30 minutes sleep!”, so that if I woke in an hour, two or three, I would always be pleasantly surprised, and feel even more rested (rather than *please sleep through the night* only to be disheartened by a 4hour block of sleep


It’s so hard but It gets easier and your body does cope surprisingly well! Definitely try sleep in the afternoon when baby sleeps. And if your hubby can do a late evening feed (expressed milk if you’re breast feeding) so you can go to bed early and get 4-5 hours straight it helps immensely. Even if only every few days. Also agree lying down to feed (safely) is good when you’re just so exhausted…


Safe bed sharing gives you more sleep. As time goes on you will get used to less sleep. Rest as much as you can – dont feel pressured to be ‘up and about’. Go to bed when baby goes to sleep and continue this as baby gets older ie go at 7pm instead of staying up to have adult time.


My partner did the last evening feed as a bottle – and I went to bed really early. This meant I got some sleep before the first night time wake


I’m onto my 3rd pregnancy and I have always found myself in the same position, as my husband has a spinal cord injury, so I’m always on night duty, every night. It’s okay, I know he would help if he can. But it is hard, especially night times.


It is horrible but it does get better and your body does adjust as weird as that sounds. Try and rest when baby does during the day


Safe co sleeping saved us ❤


I’m not a fan personally of sleeping with baby in bed. When I was very sleep deprived I fell asleep feeding and I can tell you now I’m lucky she is alive today . I never ever did a night feed laying down again.
Your bubba is still very new. Calories are the game changer when it comes to night feeds. Can you do a dream feed?
I really recommend sleeping during the day. Get dinner organised early so hubby can just turn on, stay home and rest.


Seriously lower all standards ie: your house, yourself and just focus on getting you and baby through each day. It blows my mind how quickly time goes!


Sleep when you can. It doesn’t last forever thankfully. My son took 10 months before he slept for more than 2 hours at a time ? ?
My second was an angel and only woke twice in the night from about 3/4 weeks and wasn’t too long before she slept through. Sleep deprivation is so hard. Just do your best xoxoxo


day naps are best! sleep when baby sleeps during the day, maybe co-sleep also, partner might have to sleep in a spare room or the couch, my husband is the same, he cant afford to have broken sleep with his line of work we have a 7wk old so im in charge of all wakings and i also have a toddler so if kids are asleep i might take a nap or do something like reading that makes me feel rested. good luck hun, it does get better tho!


My third is 7 months and is a crap sleeper just like her brothers were! My advice is to co sleep this has been a life saver for me I still don’t get much sleep ( she has always refused a bottle and never slept more than an hour chunk) but I am resting


It’s only been 3 weeks things will change weight gain good you’ll be fine if u want to can do a very small formula top up just at night to give u couple more hours but in my experience your prob not getting enough  wind up and baby keeps waking to fart try get more up some baby’s esp new ones hold more .You’re doing well


Go to bed with a big bottle of water and some snacks if you can. I found snacking on fruit, crackers, cheese throughout the night helped my energy levels plus I didn’t feel like it was 2am because I was snacking away quite happily whilst bubs was feeding. All the best!! Xx


I was the same with my first. We ended up co sleeping, it’s not the best quality sleep but its better than nothing. And let the housework go to shit and catch some sleep during the day whenever you can.


Can your partner not do a feed between 6-11. And you go to bed earlier. And then hes getting at least 6 hours straight sleep. Or wear baby in the morning and get your housework done and sleep in the arvo when baby sleeps? My boy is 8 weeks, I have multiple toddlers so cant sleep during the day. But I’ve gotten use to it, I have my moments but you do adjust. I was exhausted the first 6 weeks. I still have a few days a week where I’m just survival mode. But its slowly getting better week by week!


I have no advice but your not alone. I have an 8 week old who won’t sleep longer than 2 hours. He woke me hourly last night& doesn’t sleep long enough for me to nap during the day either. I have 4 kids & it’s bloody hard.


I was one of those Mum’s that didn’t sleep when baby slept but I didn’t rush around doing stuff either. I’d set myself up with Netflix, food and just stay in bed with baby. I would try and express a little bit so that hubby could do the first night feed


My husband went back to work almost straight away. We still took turns. My hubby took the shift till about 1am latest, unless baby needed a feed. Even then he would help rock her to sleep. Then I would do all the 2.5hrs wake ups.


Try to nap when baby does and just enjoy it. If u don’t have to get up for work u can sleep whenever u can manage to. It won’t last forever and when it stops u will miss it haha. Mine only started sleeping through at 14months haha so I had to “enjoy” that lol


Sleep as much as you can , co sleep that means you don’t need to get up at night


Sleep when baby sleeps. Thats the only way. My baby is 20 month old and still has one feed a night. I am a full time working mum. So at the weekend when he sleeps i sleep to catch up my sleep.


My first baby was awful, hardly ever slept due to reflux, allergies an feed all the time due to undiagnosed tongue tie. Soon as hubby got home from work I would go and nap. This gave me a bit of sleep before the awful night of no sleep. Also he got up an hour earlier so I could have an hour nap before he left for work.
Also if people offer help take it.
So one would come and take baby for a walk So you could nap or they could sit watching tv while baby naps on them and you can nap.


My partner went back to work straight away too. My boy is 3months and only just started doing one 4hour gap at night. You do get used to it and like all the other mums have said, rest when baby does, my boy always comes in to bed with me at 5:30 when my partner goes to work and we do side feeding and get a good few hours. Always do your housework when baby is awake. They like watching you rush around and its a good time for them to play while still being able to see you. Good luck ?


My husband went back to work when baby was 6 days old. Sleep when baby sleeps – naps are amazing. Get friends and family to help with meals, cleaning etc if needed. Get a baby sling, wear bubs around the house/garden so you can get things done while they sleep. Be kind to yourself, it’s a journey and the stages will pass. Mine is 2 now and the newborn weeks seem so long ago!


I slept in the same room with my baby but she was in her cot. Made night wakings easier as I didn’t have far to go to pick her up. She would doze off pretty quick and I’d have her back down and I’d be back into bed again. You just don’t get solid, consistent sleep with a newborn – but you adapt to it and the sleep deprivation and you get a few mins shuteye whenever you can. I slept when she did, even during the day – which were short bursts, but they carried me through. I found that once I accepted that sleep was likely not going to be a thing I got much of, it was easier.


You got to get those day naps in
So while baby sleeps you just sleep too
Dont worry about anything but eating sleeping and baby thats all that matters
It will get better
We put a bed in bubs room so if i was tired and nodded off as least i could lay down with her first so she was safe


Sleep when baby sleeps, I know everyone says it but often people get busy tidying or jobs then when they think they’ll nap baby wakes. I found if I could catch one or two naps in those early days it can make all the difference.


Idk how to fix it, except for time, it doesn’t last forever. I went through it with my wee man, but we got through itz the first 6-8 weeks are the hardest, with the adjustment for you both, but you find ways to make it work. I promise


It’s a game changer the loosing sleep bit, and for us it got worse before it got better. Our take on it was quality sleep over quantity of sleep. I cope better for example on a solid 2 hours, over a broken 4 hours if that makes sense. So try get a good few hours before/after hubby sleeps if possible. You feed and he resettle. Most partners (don’t we all ??) need their sleep especially if they are working the following day so try to lay down feeding to even just that’s a rest, to help you. Send hubby to the spare room/couch if he’s that desperate for a full nights sleep. I used to prepare myself snacks/drinks and hubby kept the fire going so I would get up every 3 hours (day/night) and in between if she wanted to feed and this meant I had something to keep me “going” during the night feeds. I couldn’t stay in bed, early days are hard at latching and positioning etc so do what works for you. We used to watch McLeod’s daughters each middle of the night feed ??‍♀️?


This phase ends so quickly. It seems impossible and whoever said “the nights are long” was SO SO right. Sleep when you can. Use the weekends or your partners off days and get some help from family to do housework. Order some ready made meals so you dont have to think about making a healthy lunch.
Also – communicate with your partner. You may be feeling like it’s a safety issue – he may not feel like it’s that bigger deal. My husband drives as a huge part of his job (he works approx 60 hours a week) and he helped with everything before midnight. He could safely drive with 5-6 hours of solid sleep. If he had a particularly huge day – he slept in the other room. But he also allowed me to have some time out to rest in the evening if that was the case. To an extent – I would say to your husband/partner to suck it up a little bit.


You get used to it lol try not to focus on the I only got two hours sleep cuddle that baby sleep with baby on your chest cos honestly this newborn stage is so short and when it’s gone you will miss it Google fourth trimester and accept the fact that now you are a parent a truly rested sleep is a thing of the distant past lol


I have been in exactly the same boat with 2 kids. Sleep when you can and do whatever it takes to put you and bubs first. Don’t let anyone else tell you your choices with sleeping /feeding etc should be different. Leave the house work and anything non-essential and take any help offered. Be prepared for the first 3 months to be hard! And if you’re still feeling awful after 3 months do talk to your doctor and family to get support. Good luck!


learn to rest/sleep during the day when baby is sleeping even if it only putting your feet up and watching netflix your usual sleep routine will be disrupted for some time and if worthwhile adjusting to babies timetable in the early weeks


Get someone in during the day to help with washing and cooking etc. Might give you a chance to sleep or rest when baby does. I didn’t sleep
Much at night same situation. But slept in the morning after 8 when help arrive for an hour or two straight. If you’re really deprived try not to drive. It’s when accident happen.


Give it time eventually your body will adjust to it and it will become second nature


Give yourself a 2 hour nap each day, wether your tired or not, I can garuntee you’ll fall asleep ? I take a nap when my toddler goes down as mr 2 week old sleeps all the time so I’m able to catch in a few z’s every 2nd day when I need it ? and early nights for yourself.


Oh how I remember this feeling..honestly it will pass!! But do whatever it takes to get through these early weeks with baby. I used to fall asleep with baby a lot, and she would sleep in the bed with us on a special little baby mattress thingy, not sure what they are called. Sleeping when baby sleeps is such a difficult thing, but really try it!



As mentioned so much above, the best thing she can do is to rest when the baby is sleeping. Even if it’s just lying down and not necessarily sleeping, it’s so important to recharge in this extremely demanding time.
Decide what’s really important – housework can wait or if she can afford it she could hire a cleaner to help her out for a wee while. Those meal boxes like hello fresh or my food bag are great to take the pressure off what to make for dinner and if you get the family sized boxes there will be leftovers for lunch too (hopefully her partner is a whizz in the kitchen and can help with the cooking).
The biggest piece of advice I have for new mums is to just take the pressure off. You don’t need to be perfect, your baby thinks you’re perfect no matter what. Your only job is to feed, love and care for your new baby, everything else is a bonus.
Oh and never turn down an offer of help – people ask because they genuinely want to and support makes a huge difference.


I use to sleep a lot in ny recliner. I would set us both up really comfy and make sure he couldn’t fall out by using a nursing pillow. And just dozed while he fed. Dont be afraid to ask for help an diet people give you a hand where you can.


I remember night wakings almost painfully in those early days – too scared to blink in case I fell asleep! My tips:
– please trust those who tell you that housework is not important. Anything you can cut out of your day to reduce the demands on your energy (emotional and physical) is a win.
– if you can, nap during the day – even 45 mins made me feel like a new person some days. If you can’t nap (e.g. stuck under a sleeping baby!), at the very least be still, drink smoothies, eat chocolate, put your feet up, read happy websites – better than no rest.
– if you can squeeze in some mindfulness meditation to help you quiet your brain, you might find it easier to get to sleep quicker between babe’s wakes – maximising your chance of sleeping when they do. Maybe check out the free sessions on Headspace
– bassinet and chair by your bed if poss – the less you need to get up and move around, the easier it is for you to drop off to sleep when you’ve finished changing/feeding. And if you can get to babe early, there’s less chance they’ll work themselves up and need to be calmed down to feed/get back to sleep.
– I hear you need to protect your partner’s sleep, but could you arrange some small way of sharing the load? My husband got up with babe, took her and changed her nappy while I got settled in my chair, then he brought her back to me to feed while he went back to sleep. It doesn’t seem like much but it really helped. You both need to be able to function – mama, you have a heavy load caring for your babe throughout the days.
Finally – this is a phase. One night soon you might get five hours sleep, and wake up feeling almost like new.
Hugs to you xx


If you can grab a few hours sleep when hubby comes home then spend the rest of the night up with hubby til bed so you still spend time with each other and then you can still get to sleep when bubs goes down, that’s what saved my sanity, it does get easier but it’s hard at the start. Good luck xx


Go easy on yourself, sleep as much as you can during the day, focus on nothing but feeding your baby and sleeping when you can. Go back to bed when baby has their first nap, and their second and their third if you need it, I mean that, nothing else matters


I was ill after baby was born, so during the day I literally lounged around doing practically nothing, dozing on and off throughout the day with baby within arms reach. The housework didn’t get done, and when hubby went back to work we lived off of takeaways and a few meals mother-in-law brought round. There have been no long term casualties of this period of time. Accept each and every bit of help you are offered, even if it makes you feel awkward (it shouldn’t). If there is something you absolutely cannot live with being undone, identify it and get hubby or someone else to make sure it is done. I could live with absolutely anything but the lack of our toilet being cleaned. This is the one chore hubby has steadfastly refused to do, and I didn’t feel I could ask anyone to do it. I wish I had, because at some point it (just that) got to me so much that I had a mini breakdown. Totally stupid, and in hindsight I know multiple people would have cleaned it for me if I had asked. We all survived. That baby thrived despite the lack of housework and has just turned 13 and most definitely sleeps through the night now! All parents have all been there, done that, and we all want to make the journey with a new baby as enjoyable as we can for our new parent friends and family. So, if whatever you *think* needs doing is not vital to yours or babies survival or mental help – let it go. If it is vital, ask someone else to do it. You just sleep when you can. Doze when you cannot sleep. You are not being lazy – you are being a new mum, nurturing her baby.


It is really hard. For night feeding, I used to leave a plate of nibbles and water out, and sometimes I’d have a cuppa ready to pour. I had my kindle nearby or the iPad with a game on it. That makes getting up a little nicer and cosier. When I put him down to sleep for the first nap of the day, I’d get in the shower. Often he’d be asleep when I got out. He may have grizzled, but I couldn’t hear and he was safe and I was far more refreshed and resilient than I would be otherwise. I had a ten minute housework routine. Allow ten minutes, then relax and take a nap or do something low-key. Day and night cease a bit to exist, it’s just a cycle, relax and go with it as much as you can.


“this too shall pass” my third was the worst of them all. Only 1 hour of sleep between feeds for weeks. I would cry at night and just remind myself that it wouldn’t last forever. The joy of being your first means you can sleep during the day. So really try to get naps in then


Oh friend, it is SO hard. Because it’s your first baby, take every opportunity to sleep or get in bed with a book when baby is sleeping during the day. It might mean you miss out on ‘you time’ but it’ll help.

When I was a new mum, realising that all new mothers went through this helped me. In a few months, your baby will likely sleep for longer periods at night and you’ll also get a lot better at ‘doing life tired’. Keep up your good work!


We took our babies to Bowen Therapist at about 9 weeks as we tried everything and nothing was helping they were extremely hard to settle to sleep and even day sleeps were tricky but after 2 visits to him they slept through the night! Highly recommend i…See more


We found a ‘miracle blanket’ a game changer! Lengthened the time between wakings. Also, try not to look at clock too much as I found that makes you worry too much about lack of sleep. Second time around for me nights are no problem and I’m not so shattered…. so it gets better!!


We went through a tough time with bubs taking hours to settle. I would get a head start on sleep by bf and then passing bubs to hubby for a top up bottle and settling. I was also allowed to ‘tag him in’ after a middle of the night bf on friday and saturdays when he didnt work the next day.


I haven’t read all other comments. As it’s a 24/7 job just sleep when the baby sleeps day or night. Forget about the housework for a few weeks it’s not going to fall apart. When you cook dinner try do enough for two nights or more and freeze some to defrost later… if you have a breastpump express some milk for your husband to feed the baby. If you feed baby and the go to bed at say 7 then if baby wakes at 9 ish your husband can feed them and then you get up for next feed at say 11 (I’m not sure how often bubs is waking) then u get 4 hours straight which can feel great…


Those early days are hard but it does get better. Don’t watch the clock, it always made me feel more tired knowing how little sleep I got. And try nap in the day when baby sleeps, I found the afternoon nap most helpful to get me through the night. And like others have said, even just resting without sleep throughout the day (Netflix, reading etc). Amazingly, your body does get used to getting little sleep xx


Check your iron levels as u may be depleted, I felt like this and once I got my iron back up it made it more manageable and I was able to sleep better when I could also … good luck !


I didn’t sleep when baby slept. But did express once a day so that i did the 8.30pm feed then went straight to bed. Daddy got to spend alone time with the baby and then feed the next round. This meant i got around 5 hours solid sleep. It worked well for all.


Safe Co sleeping and baby wearing. Prioritising, only do chores which really need doing, nap when you can.


I promise you it doesn’t last forever–you will be there so soon and baby will sleep for longer periods.


We were in a similar situation where my hubby needed to sleep through for work. Our solution was for me to express and daddy to bottle feed the 10pm ish feed so I could go to bed at 8 and sleep through to the 12/1am feed and skip the 10pm feed. Then my husband slept through all the night feeds. That solid 3/4 hours sleep at the start of the night was a game changer for me!


partner in a different room. baby in mother’s bed with his/her own bed (bassinette)


I would highly recommend following a sleep consultant feed/ sleep pattern if you can try to follow something from early on it won’t be to long before your baby does longer stretches at night I have 3 kids and my youngest has been my best by far


Hang in there! It really does get better and somehow your body adapts ❤ also take care of yourself and make sure you are eating nourishing food to keep energy levels up. Post partum depletion is a real thing, so be kind to yourself!


These days won’t last so hang in there!!

Kia kaha mama