Sleep Deprivation Can Be Debilitating!
Allison Taylor recalls that before giving birth, she "read a ton of baby-care manuals and listened to hours of advice from other parents." But the nuts-and-bolts reality of night feedings didn't register until daughter Olivia was in her arms. "In all the reading I'd done, I was shocked that nobody explained the actual breakdown of a baby's feeding schedule," she says. "Breastfeeding every two to four hours doesn't mean you'll have two to four hours of sleep in between. This was really rough to find out!" By the time you've finished nursing, burping, changing the diaper, and putting the baby back to sleep, it's possible that you'll have only one hour, or less, before the next feeding.
These nights of fragmented sleep often last for up to three months, but we're letting you know now: Some infants take longer to sleep through the night. It was five months before Catherine Calame's daughter, Charlotte, snoozed for six hours straight. "No one tells you how tired you're really going to be," says Calame, who lives in Bayport, New York. "And being tired makes everything harder." In a 2006 study of new mothers conducted by Lamaze International and Harris Interactive, exhaustion was the most common complaint with a whopping 62 percent of women citing it as a problem.
That said, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to adapt to interrupted snooze time. "In the months after my daughter's birth, I learned to fall asleep for catnaps," Taylor says. "And the extreme fatigue definitely helped me become a champion at getting back to sleep quickly after a feeding."