This week, Katie Hilton, midwife and health visitor gives us her expert lowdown on how to overcome parental sleep anxiety, an issue that affects many parents. The sheer frustration of not being able to sleep when your baby does can leave you feeling exhausted and beaten down. Over to Katie to find out how she coped:
"This may come as a surprise to many given my career as a Midwife and Health Visitor with 18 years’ experience, and as an Expert Advisor to parents around the world, but I’ll let you in on a little secret! I’m just like you!! Yes, when I had my son, I was also obsessive about checking him whenever he was asleep - I’d often find myself wide awake in the middle of the night peering over the side of the Moses basket to make sure he was okay. Of course he was, but that didn’t lessen my anxiety, I just couldn’t close my eyes or rest properly!! But I got to thinking about how other parents cope if I was like this with all my experience and knowledge. So, in this post I want to talk to you about ways to help yourself sleep better at night, reassure yourself that your baby is safe and secure and how you can relax and enjoy that moment when your head hits the pillow!
Create a relaxing environment
I use a number of tried and tested techniques to help parents to relax, wind down and calm that overactive mind. My first technique is creating a relaxing environment, so take yourself to somewhere quiet and peaceful where you know you won’t be disturbed. Light a relaxing candle - this could be lavender for bedtime or jasmine which has been shown to reduce stress. Find yourself a meditation track on iTunes or YouTube and simply lay back, listen to the track and take 15 minutes out from daily life to really focus on you.
A good night's sleep starts during the day!
My next tip really seems a no-brainer, but I think it’s important to highlight. Try to eat well-balanced meals and don’t skip meals, keep healthy energy-boosting snacks on hand and try to limit alcohol and caffeine intake as this can aggravate any anxiety, which is not helpful when trying to nod off in the evening. Try to get exercise daily, even if this means popping little one in the pram or baby carrier and going for a 10 minute walk - getting some exercise and getting outside of the house has been shown to help you to feel good and to reduce the risk of postnatal depression. Also getting exercise will help you to sleep much better at night and not be filled with anxious thoughts about little one.
Bedtime routine for you as well as baby!
You’ve heard all about getting your baby into a bedtime routine, but often as parents we’re not so good at following this advice ourselves. If we know that following the same bedtime routine every night helps our little ones to sleep, it makes sense that the same advice works for us as adults. So start off as you mean to go on: this routine could include having a relaxing lavender or chamomile bubble bath, indulging in some calming luxurious skincare products, reading your favourite book and making sure you switch off from anything stimulating an hour before bed including iPad’s and TV’s.
Invest in a baby monitor that gives you the reassurance you need
I’m going to talk to you about baby monitors because whilst I can give you all the tips and advice in the world to help you relax, if we haven’t overcome the original reason for your anxiety then everything else will be pointless. There are numerous baby monitors on the market that will offer you the peace of mind that your baby is absolutely fine when sleeping. I am personally a fan of the Owlet®, which my husband bought to stop me feeling the need to constantly check on my son! It was a life-saver for me in helping to overcome my sleep anxiety. The Owlet®is available as a smart monitoring sock, camera or a combination of both, which would be my choice. This unique device is the first baby monitor system which can track your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels whilst also streaming live video and audio to your phone (with the added bonus that your partner can even see everything if away from home!). It really does offer you peace of mind that baby is sleeping soundly as you know it will instantly alert you to anything you need to worry about.
I really hope these tips will help you overcome any anxiety you might be feeling, and allow you to rest and relax feeling reassured baby is safe and well!"
If you are interested in checking out the Owlet®system head over to our friends at Cheeky Rascals
We are kicking off the festive season with our most exciting competition of the year! This week, we're giving you the chance to win an Owlet Baby Bundle including Camera and Sock from our friends at Cheeky Rascals. This is the most advanced and integrated baby monitoring system on the market, worth a whopping £379.99! And it could be yours!