PODCAST: ALL ABOUT BABY SLEEP
Introducing the amazing Life Butter Radio podcast
Hear some reassuring advice on baby sleep from maternity nurse Moni Westenbrink via amazing new podcast Life Butter Radio
I am an absolute podcast addict. I have always *quite* liked them: a Mark Kermode film show here, an Adam and Joe podcast there, but it was when I was on maternity leave that I really became addicted. I had a baby who wouldn’t sleep anywhere but in a moving buggy, and so I spent months trundling him around while engrossed in the latest Serial episode or Woman’s Hour podcast.
Because podcasts are so great for parents, I am now always on the lookout for interesting new podcasts, and it was quite by chance that I met the lovely Kari Erickson who told me about her own podcast: Life Butter Radio. To be honest, I was sold by the title alone (what a nice image that conjures up!), but the content is amazing too. Kari has an incredibly soothing voice, her topics are thoughtfully chosen, and the show is brilliantly produced.
Happily, she has joined the Tantrum Creative Network, and as a special favour to us, she devised an episode all about baby sleep. Did you know that in Holland, new mothers are assigned a maternity nurse for 7-10 days, to provide care and advice in their own homes? Isn’t that amazing? Someone to help you with breastfeeding and to dispell any myths about babies sleeping through the night. These nurses are called kraamzorg nurses, and Kari interviews one of them, Moni Westenbrink, for the show. I found her advice comforting and non-judgemental, and it made me realise how much easier I would have found life as a new mother had I had someone like that to help me - wouldn’t we all?
Below is an excerpt from their discussion, and you can listen to the entire podcast on the Life Butter website here.
‘Kraamzorg’ maternity nurse Moni Westenbrink in discussion with Life Butter Radio host Kari Erickson on baby sleep and sleep deprivation in new mothers
KE: First of all, why sleep is so important for new mothers? I think we all know that sleep is important for babies because that is when they grow, but in the beginning, particularly in those first 12 weeks, why sleep is so important for new mothers?
MW: Well one of the biggest triggers of postpartum depression is of course lack of breastfeeding support and lack of sleep. If you don’t sleep it changes everything. It changes your sense of perspective, your sense of being able to cope your.. I don’t know. Everything! Even things like milk production, you know, if you are a breastfeeding mother, you need to eat well. I mean, calories is not a dirty word, it’s pure fuel for your body. Your body needs fuel and your body needs sleep.
KE: Do women who had a C-section need more sleep than someone who’s had a natural birth? Or maybe it’s the other way around?
MW: Absolutely. I mean, a C-section is major surgery. Your body needs to heal from that. It’s really underestimated. I think everybody always thinks, oh well it’s the easy way out, but totally it’s not for your body. And another thing, a lot of women have their babies at an older age than we used to. You know, I remember 40 years ago, if you had a child after your 30th birthday, that was a brave thing to do and these days it seems to be the norm. I do hear women talk about how they feel more tired, you know, the older they are, and not just during pregnancy but also after childbirth. So you really need to continue to eat well and rest well, you know. If you can try not to demand too much from yourself, because that way your body helps you the best.
KE: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think there was something I really struggled with after I had my son, because I am a very achievement-oriented, a list-ticking type person and you can’t be that way particularly.. I would say even for the first six months it’s just so full on all the time and you really have to recalibrate. What do people say to help mothers help get more sleep? They say to sleep when the baby sleeps? But people wanna get stuff done during that nap time.
MW: Yes, but then what do you do when you have a baby that doesn’t really sleep very well? So, you know, that’s where the tricky thing comes in. Because that’s also you expecting your baby to sleep certain hours and sometimes babies just do what they do. Especially in the first weeks.
KE: So let’s talk about babies, because there are a lot of different theories... Some people say ‘Look, some children are just good sleepers and they are good sleepers from day one and some children are just nightmares’. Do you think that every baby can learn to sleep well in the first 12 weeks or are some babies just very difficult?
MW: There are some babies that are very difficult to put into routine, which doesn’t mean that they don’t benefit from some sort of rhythm. You have babies with medical issues obviously, who are just very very fussy and you also have extremely sensitive babies, they do really exist. But that doesn’t mean that you have to put them into a hard routine. It really is always a case of looking at your child and trying to figure out what their needs are. Do they need more peace and quiet during the day time? One of the things that new parents are often worried about is how do we understand the baby? And babies do have a body language. There are some babies that are very easy to put into a routine.
KE: So your approach is generally that routine even from day one is kind of the best route to achieving the good sleep for your baby?
MW: Well, you can’t really have expectations from a child. Especially in the first 2 weeks when they are still very busy learning and they are still trying to get used to the environment and having to feed themselves, maintaining their own body temperature and all those things. And mothers are getting used to the child as well. The milk production when they are breastfeeding needs to start up. The first couple of weeks is really getting to know each other. And then you slowly can try and set a rhythm there. I don’t call it a very strict routine, but you do notice that they like a rhythm. They tend to fall asleep during certain hours, after that time I usually start trying to feed them regularly during the day and the evening and when they are ready to start having longer naps.
KE: So I know that it’s something you are big on: that your child will learn to sleep for longer stretches at night if he or she can master a long kind of afternoon or lunchtime nap. What’s the magic to that?
MW: Interestingly enough, a well-rested baby sleeps better than a tired baby. Babies have very different cycles to us. If you watch your baby, you see that after falling asleep, after about 40 minutes they start to wake up again. Then they need to be left alone in general, to settle themselves into that deeper sleep. Sometimes they need a little bit of help, you know, reassuring voice telling that everything is ok, they can go back to sleep. But sometimes parents misinterpret the child and they think that the child is waking up and that they need to do something with the child. That way they actually wake up the baby rather than allowing them to fall asleep again.
To listen to the whole podcast, click here on to the Butter Your Life website. It’s well worth a listen (and subscribe too, if you like it!).
I hope you enjoy the podcast as much I did. And if you can recommend any other good podcasts, let me know below...