#21 Rediscovering what normal sleep looks like with kids – The Matrescence Podcast
“This transcript uses AI to extract what we say into words on a page so our ideas can be accessible to all. The algorithm isn’t perfect, and neither is our pronunciation so we are quite sure that this transcript will not be perfect. Using technology allows us to get it out faster and we appreciate your patience in reading it as it was spoken. In this case done is better than perfect.”
Kelly: The birth of a baby is a defining moment in a woman’s life.
Bree: But what about the birth of the mother?
Kelly: That’s right. When a baby is born. So too is a mother,
Bree: this transition from woman to mother has a name it’s called Matrescence.
Kelly: This developmental state is as powerful and irreversible as adolescents, and yet few women had ever heard of it.
Bree: So let’s talk about it.
Kelly: Let’s talk about it. Each episode, we will bring in honest and thought provoking conversation to evidence-based research and knowledgeable guests in order to help you merge a more powerful and aligned version of yourself,
Bree: join us, your hosts, Kelley and Bree as we attempt to make sense of our Matrescence journey and to help you make sense of it.
Your baby’s sleep habits can easily dominate conversations. Is she sleeping through the night? How often does she wake? Does she self suit? We searched the internet books, social media, and chat to other moms in order to gauge what is normal and to find answers to the problem of our child sleep throughout the first year of your child’s life, you will chase the goal of sleeping through the night, convinced that if we can just reach that point, everything will be okay.
We often wrongly assume that everyone else’s baby is sleeping through the night and worry that we are doing something wrong. We desperately try to follow safe sleeping guidelines. Despite the fact that our babies have not got the memo that after nine months of being inseparable from us, they are now expected to sleep alone.
In a cop. Sleep is a pillar of wellbeing. It affects our physical and mental health. The way we parent our relationship, our ability to perform both unpaid and paid work and so much. It is unsurprising then that we play so much emphasis on our babies sleeping well, because if our baby’s not sleeping well, chances are neither have we in our modern society.
However, it seems that we have lost touch with normal infant sleep coupled with the fact that the demands of modern life, I’m not conducive with wakeful babies. We often find ourselves desperate for a solution in our desperation. Many of us tend to sleep programs or sleep school. I know because I’ve been there.
We convince ourselves that padding their mattress or shushing is enough comfort. We ignore that deep yearning to go and comfort out baby, to bring them into our bed for a cuddle. We try to convince ourselves the data’s working and sometimes it even is for awhile, but then a sleep regression comes along or teething or sickness, or one of the many other disruptions that are so normal in this phase of life.
Whether you choose to bed, share place your baby in their own room, sleep or any other approach. Sleep is going to play a really big role in your parenthood experience. So let’s talk about it today. We’re going to dive into what sleep looks like in our home. Spoiler alert. It’s not even close to textbook.
We don’t have all the answers like you. We are on a journey to figuring out how to get enough sleep in this phase of life. But we can promise you that this conversation will leave you feeling a little lighter. We’ll take the shame out of unconventional sleep situations, and we’ll leave you feeling more informed and prepared to tackle sleep, regardless of what it looks like in your house.
Now, as always, we want to put the disclaimer that we are not experts in infant sleep. In fact, we’re not really experts in anything, but chances are neither. Like you, we are just, mum’s trying to make sense of the research, keep our children safe and get as much sleep as possible. Now, if you enjoy this topic, we will definitely find you an expert to really dive into it.
So let us know on our social
Alrighty. So we’re in the closet. How’s your morning been Kell.
Kelly: I’ve actually had an awesome morning. Thank you, Bri. Podcast first up, but today I got to sneak off for a bike ride with some ladies. So I’m in a season of my life where I can have a little bit of time to myself. Again, it’s taken a long time and I don’t want anyone to feel like, oh, I can’t, sometimes I feel bad because I’m off doing things, but I’m in a different season than you.
Awesome. Morning. Tell me about yours.
Bree: Yeah, for sure. We did swimming lessons and coffee. While Cal was out doing a 45 kilometer bike ride, not quite achieving the same amount, but differently, valuable. And as you said, we are in very different seasons of life. Now it is Saturday here and we have just heard the news that we’re going to be in a four day snap lockdown.
So we’re also. Making arrangements for that. But apart from that, not much more interesting to report on my end. Yeah.
Kelly: And in this case, we’re going to get this one out really quickly. Sometimes there’s a couple of weeks delay, but by the time this hits your ears, pretty soon, it will still be locked down.
So that’s a good thing. And I haven’t even processed what that means the lockdown, but I think it means lots of time to listen to podcasts. I hope for some people as we certainly won’t be going anywhere tomorrow on a Sunday, which we’d planned to do.
Bree: Absolutely. So in today’s episode, as you’ve already heard, we’re going to be talking about sleep.
Now we wanted to start off by sharing our experiences because we think that there is a lot of value in kind of rediscovering what normal looks like in, in our household. And that’s going to be different for me compared to Kelly Kell’s boys are pre-teens whereas I have a newborn and a toddler. But sometimes just hearing others’ experiences can really.
Be comforting and you can pick some things up along the way that might work for you. So as we go on, I am going to share some pointers, some things that are really helping me navigate sleep in this season of life. And again, take what works, leave what doesn’t. And there is no perfect solution to children’s sleep.
But hopefully this will have you feeling a little bit more knowledge knowledgeable and Provide some solidarity.
Kelly: Yeah. And even in the planning of this episode this morning, I had, I was always a bit shocking when you were talking about your expectations of how your baby would sleep. And by six months I’ll have this nailed and I’ll be sleeping through the night.
And it was wow, where does that expectation come from? I don’t really remember what my expectations were. I think I expected it just to be hard for a really long time, but that you seem to have this really quite clear and fixated idea about what sleep would look like
Bree: for your baby.
Going into my first baby, I had a really rigid idea of how I thought sleep would look. And I’m someone that’s very goal-orientated girl orientate oriented, goal oriented. And I thought that sleep was a problem that I could solve. If I worked hard enough, then I would be rewarded with a baby who slept.
And I was determined to follow all the safe sleep guidelines from the very beginning. And there was a huge expectation gap between what I thought sleep would look like and what it did as you’ll soon here. And I think that is the case for a lot of moms. And that’s the key takeaway from this episode is that expectation management around what sleep will look like
Kelly: And the world’s increasingly polarizing.
So there’s the school of all. You just, you wait, it’ll be terrible. You’ll never sleep again to the school of, it’s fine. My baby’s sleeping through the night. And so we’re trying to remove those polarizations and say that it is a spectrum.
Bree: Totally. It’s such a spectrum and it’s constantly evolving, constantly changing it, ebbs and flows.
Yeah. So do you want to, do you want me to start by telling you a little bit about our sleep situation? Or do you want to go first?
Kelly: Why don’t you go first because it’s really salient for you right now.
Bree: Yeah, we’ll go chronologically. So when I had my little boy as I said, I was very fixated on the safe sleep guidelines.
So if you’re listening from Australia, that is the seeds, red nose, safe sleep guidelines. And I was inundated with information on safe sleep throughout pregnancy. So every time I went to an ultrasound midwife appointment, we would receive pamphlets about safe sleep and have conversations about it. But by the time my little boy was born, I felt really confident that I knew what that should look like.
So it was the baby on their back in there caught nothing else around them. Never bringing them into your bed that kind of. So we prepared a safe sleeping space right next to our bed, nothing in his cart, no loose blankets. And then I brought him home and he wouldn’t sleep in there. He would fall asleep on us.
And as soon as we transferred him into the crib or the cut, he would wake. And I was super confused because I was confident that’s how babies slept. And I’d been told this. And this is coupled with the fact that I was incredibly anxious as I’ve spoken about before. So due to the anxiety I was feeling, I felt almost certain that he would die in his sleep.
And that sounds really morbid, but it’s how I felt at the time it had been so drilled into me the risk of SIDS that I was terrified of putting him to bed. So for the first few weeks of parenthood, I decided and informed. Either my husband or I would stay up all night watching him because I thought if we don’t watch him, he’s going to die.
We’re going to miss something. He’s going to roll. Something will go on his face. And I was too scared to leave him alone and go to sleep. And it’s not really surprising. It’s your most precious commodity. And we tell parents all through pregnancy about these risks, and then you say go to sleep, leave them in their own space and don’t watch them all night.
And yeah, I found it terrifying. So as you would imagine, within two weeks, the hormones dropped off the sleep deprivation set. In most nights, my husband would do. I guess the night shift and I would wake up around 1 32 to do the next shift of watching him and start my day at that point. So we both ended up ridiculously sleep deprived and inevitably falling asleep with him on the lounge, which we know is so incredibly unsafe.
Time went on and I just felt completely lost. I didn’t know what to do. I was trying so desperately to adhere to these safe sleep guidelines, but my baby wasn’t cooperating and I would never even entertain the idea of bringing him into bed with us because that felt like. So risky, so dangerous. And I thought who would ever do that?
We know those safe sleep guidelines, who would dare bring their baby into their bed, not me. And at the same time, I was worried about creating a bad habit. I wanted that space for my husband and I to sleep, to be intimate. I didn’t want to have a toddler in my bed. Everyone had warned me that you’re never going to get your baby out of your bed if you bring them in.
So we’re just in this bind where he wasn’t sleeping, we were outrageously sleep deprived. And I didn’t know what to do. So the long of the shortest that we ended up buying a sleep program and I tried desperately to follow that. We had schedules written and pinned up on the door. We would.
To the minute, and it did improve things a little bit temporarily, but to me it felt so distressing to watch him cry. And it wasn’t controlled crying, but there was still plenty of crying involved because he didn’t want to be by himself. He wanted to be with us. And honestly I wanted to be with him. So did that for a while.
Things improved enough that we kept traveling along. But by about a year, he was still waking two to three times a night being that we weren’t bringing him into our bed. I was walking down the hall to the nursery. We’d moved him into the nursery at eight weeks old against advice because he was so noisy and I was so sleep deprived that I was beginning to have hallucinations.
I’d wake up in the middle of the night. Pulling blankets up and worrying that I’d suffocated him. Only to find that he was in the cot next to us, or my husband would find me sitting in bed rocking and padding and shushing a pillow things like that. So we ended up making the decision to move him into his own nursery, which was a joining to our room anyway.
But in that moment, I felt like the worst mum in history, because I knew the recommendations to have your baby in your room, but we were so sleep deprived that it was just getting unsafe, that improved things a little bit. But fast forward a year on, we still were not getting sleep. We were walking up and down to the room.
2 3, 5, 10 times a night. I would feed him in the chair, often doze off while feeding him, then put him in his cart. He’d wake back up, I’d pick him up. And we’d just repeat this all through the night. So we ended up going to sleep school and we lasted three days. I don’t know what their graduation rate is.
But in our intake, I don’t think that many people made it to the end of that five day stay. And nothing personal against the service, but again, it just felt so deeply wrong. The way we were approaching sleep. So we checked up self out and came home and I was just defeated. I thought I’m just destined to be sleep deprived for the rest of my life.
And as sleep deprivation affects every single area of your life. So being that we’d been going at it for a year, it was really starting to wear me down. So when Tasha was about two, we moved homes and I can’t remember what was the catalyst, but I’ll, we brought him a queen-size bed. He needed a big boy bed, and I figured there’s going to be at least some nights where he’s sick and we need to go live with him.
So let’s just get a queen so that on those nights were comfortable. And inevitably, we started bed sharing with him. My husband would go in and settle him and fall asleep. And we started to notice that he slept so well with an adult next to him. And we were finally getting sleep for the first time in, in pretty much two years.
So we would take turns. My husband would sleep in with him. I’d get a full night’s sleep in the other bed and we’d switch. And it wasn’t actually a chore being the one to sleep with him when it was our night to sleep in with our toddler. We’ve really loved having that time to cuddle and bond and connect.
So we kept at it for quite a while and we missed. Sleeping together, of course, but my husband works nights. I’m an early riser. So there wasn’t a lot of crossover, honestly, between when we were in bed together anyway. And we actually started to like each other again, because sleep deprivation and the resentment that comes from it about who’s getting more sleep who’s up more during the night is such an intimacy killer.
And we were just angry at each other all the time. So when we were getting good sleep again, we were waking in the morning and actually excited to see one another and reconnect. And it actually was really positive for our relationship. So when Amy came along, we knew that we would keep with that that he would sleep in with Taj and.
At least room share with Emmy. We only have two bedrooms, so that wasn’t really optional. Anyway. So this time around, we had the, sidecar bassinet co-sleeper so it’s a little bassinet attached to our bed to put her in there. But I was also open to the idea of bed sharing from the start.
Now I’ve recently learned that bed sharing and co-sleeping are two different things. Did you
Kelly: know that I would like you to explain that because there’s also been quite a few comments. Yeah. In some of our other discussions on the Facebook group. So let’s actually cover
Bree: that, right? Yeah. So from my understanding, Ben sharing is when you have the baby in your bed or on another surface, I believe so any sleeping surface, so like sofa or bed, when you have the baby in with you, that’s bed sharing.
Now I might be wrong. And I feel like people are going to pull me up on that. But co-sleeping is when, for example, I have the baby sleeping next to you in the co-sleeper that kind of thing. Yeah. So
Kelly: that’s a special contraption that’s designed to gum up against your bed and bridge across, but there is a separate space for the baby.
Yes. And I
Bree: think there’s disagreement about what these terms mean and people use them interchangeably. So a lot of people say co-sleeping when they mean bed sharing. I do. But for the purpose of this conversation, bed sharing is going to be in the bed with us. Co-sleeping is going to be right next to, or Yeah, that kind of thing.
I was open to bed sharing and I created a safe sleep space for that purpose. And we do bed share on nights when Emmy is more restless, when I’m feeding, I bring her into bed with me and she’s actually a very content baby, honestly. And I would say that she’s outside of the norm in that she is quite happy to sleep by herself in the BestNet, which is shocking to me because Taj literally never did that.
So some nights I’ll pop her in there and we are navigating the challenge of having both a toddler and a newborn in the bed. And how do we keep everybody safe? But so far she is a content baby. She does sleep well, but just all around. It has been a completely different experience. And I was so traumatized by our first experience of sleep.
I was really worried about what it would look like, but. There’s been a lot of learning and growing and mindset shifts. Mindset shift between baby one and baby two. And I think that has contributed to the overall positive experience this time around.
Kelly: Yeah. And you just seem, even hearing you explained the level of anxiety you were operating at, and I’m just curious if anything.
In your world from the outside could even see just how debilitating that anxiety was. Because even I had no idea that you were literally staying awake in gas, the baby, like, how did you think other people did this? This was just a reality that you had to watch your babies. So they didn’t
Bree: honestly, yeah, I don’t know.
I don’t think it was picked up in the way that it really should have been. Every time I tried to express how fearful I was, people would normalize it and say, oh, everyone worries about their babies stopping breathing. We’ve all gone in and put our hand on our baby’s chest to check that they’re still breathing.
And I think that is quite common, but what I was experiencing, I don’t think was normal at all. And my husband went along with it, but grudgingly, but sometimes he would just fall asleep with Taj on his chest, on the lounge, which. Which I now know is incredibly dangerous, but at the time I didn’t really, but just the fact that he’d gone to sleep while Tasha sleeping, even if he was safely in the bassinet, I would feel rage that he would put our baby in the position where he could die, because he wasn’t staying awake, watching him.
That was the level of anxiety that I was operating at. And I did express it to the midwife and to other mums in my life. And everyone was just oh, it’s normal. This is normal. Yeah.
Kelly: Yeah. That is crazy to think that was continually normalized when clearly listening to it.
Now it’s unsustainable and dangerous to all of them.
Bree: Yeah. And as we’ll touch on later, by trying to do the right thing by trying not to bring him into my bed, we actually ended up in far more unsafe situations, such as falling asleep with him whilst sitting up in the recliner. And I’d wake up with him in obscure positions where he’d slid down between the pillow.
And I were like the breastfeeding pillow and I and I kinda think, what if someone had actually just brought me some information about safe bed sharing, maybe it would have been a game changer.
Kelly: That’s actually one of the questions I wanted to ask. Obviously you provided me the ice set of information around safe sleeping guidelines, which you referred to a number of times, but that was actually only one opinion.
So was it that. The safe co-sleeping and safe bed sharing information was not available to you at that time, or has it changed or was it simply that it wasn’t provided, you were only provided with the safe sleep guidelines that said baby
Bree: in a cot I’m actually not sure. I do know that safe sleep safe.
Co-sleeping guidelines now exist through red nose. And I’m not sure if that kind of emerged in response to a need or if they’ve been there the whole time, but I certainly was not provided with them. And as far as I was concerned, nobody shared their bed with their baby. Yeah snip on my radar, honestly.
But I think that gives a good segue into your sleep experience because you did bed share from the very beginning and like many people that wrote a rose out of necessity for you based on your living situation.
Kelly: Yeah, it did. And so my eldest was born in 2008, so he’s about to turn 13. We have talked in previous podcasts that he was born in the United Kingdom.
So all of my birth education occurred in the UK and the standards and the normalizing over there is quite different. So my all through my pregnancy, I can, I don’t really remember anyone telling me anything about how to sleep with the baby. I’m sure they deed, but we had a one bedroom apartment and it was typical inner city, London living luckily a large.
Which was the UK sizes are different, but let’s just say it’s approximately acquainted size bed, but the bedroom was so small that you actually had to turn sideways to go and walk down the side of the bed to get in. So not only was it an only one bedroom apartment, but there was literally no space in the room for a cot, for a bassinet for anything.
And we basically had a room upstairs and a bathroom and downstairs, there was a kitchen and a laundry room, and that was the entire apartment. So we had a change table in the lounge, which had the store of all the usual suspects of nappies and wipes and clothes, et cetera. And upstairs, we just had. The baby between us and I guess shuffled up quite high so that as the blankets came up to our shoulder or neck, there were really only up to his waist as he was slid up in the bed.
I was exclusively breastfeeding and, I’m actually now just looking back at some of those challenges that I had with breastfeeding, I used to leak a lot and that would cause fair bit of grief in the bed because you’d be changing a lot of sheets but certainly having him right there and being able to literally roll over in breastfeed meant that, he was probably in hindsight, quite a sick baby and he was a very disrupted child.
We will often joke to him cause he’s old enough now to take it, that he was, if he was away, he was screaming or feeding. He really was an unhappy child. And the comfort of having the breast was very important to me getting any semblance of sleep. I also went back to work at six when he was six weeks old.
And so I was, and I was working in a global job where I was often on conference calls late at night and very early in the morning. So my sleep pattern was quite disrupted anyway, but I don’t know that how I would have functioned if I had to physically get up out of the bed and go to another room because I think I was actually in a delirious haze most of the time.
So actually not having to even lift my baby and potentially trip over or drop him off or, fall asleep and drop him because he was between us was a really important thing. Interestingly our experience with our husbands was quite different. I think in hindsight, my husband probably suffered quite badly with a bit of postnatal depression himself.
He didn’t enjoy. The baby at all. He didn’t get up. He used to go to bed with a very large scotch and ear plugs every night and effectively we were in a bubble, the baby and I, and he, there was no way to go because we had a small apartment, but it was very much like he needed to be in that space with his silence and his quiet.
And so those long nights where I was on my own, actually having the baby in the bed was incredibly helpful because there wasn’t anyone else to get up and help or feed or anything like that because he just wasn’t in a mind space where he could do that. Yeah. So fast forward to, so hearing your story, it’s not surprising, you waited so long to have a second child.
We’ve talked about this before. My mentality was right. We’re going in now. We may never do it. When. It, when Angus started to become into the toddler stage, he was climbing out of the cot a lot. So when we first moved home to Australia, we didn’t have any furniture anyway. So we were sleeping in a swag on the floor.
So there was no cotton. Eventually we did get a cot. We had Jack and actually with my second child, we had a bassinet, like a rocker on the side of the bed. I don’t even know if rock is illegal now, but it had, it was almost like it had a rocking chair bottom and it was like a little
Bree: bassinet. Yeah.
Yeah. I dunno from what I understand, they’re unregulated. So there’s not like safe sleep standards around them in the same way that cots are. But they’re very commonly used still. I think so.
Kelly: Yeah. And so I had the, I did have the bassinet by the bed and he was in the bed and out of the bed. So it was very much led by him and whatever he wanted.
So I don’t remember feeling very rigid about sleep at all, other than I need it. We all need it. I’ll get it. However I can. One of the curiosities about my kids is the second child is often you are, your attention is divided. It doesn’t matter how much you try to lavish attention on your first child.
Your attention gets divided as soon as you have another child. Yeah. So there was some anxiety from my eldest about this new baby and getting attention, et cetera. So we often did have four of us in the bed. It was a bit of a juggle when Jack was old enough and I actually don’t know how old he was. He would have been, I don’t know, four or five, six months when we did start to move him with his brother.
That was a point where we had them in two separate cots. And what actually happened is it didn’t matter what time, how we did bedtime. As soon as you’re out of the room, Angus would crawl, climb out of his cot and climb into Jack’s cot and sleep in the car with him. And
Bree: interestingly 10, 12 via song, he still does.
Kelly: I’m pretty sure. That breaks every safe sleep regulation there is having a toddler sleep with the baby. There was nothing I could do to keep that kid out of his brother’s bed. And actually what ended up happening is that we moved them to big beds again, very early because of that, because they got to a size with two of them in a cart was just way too risky to not enough space.
So we ended up buying a set of bunk beds, which were actually two single beds that could stack or go. Side-by-side putting sorry. Kind of shelters on them or guides and putting them into those beds very young and very early in life to which they side by side slept in a single bed and then top to tailed.
And then we got to the age, when we went overseas to Sri Lanka, there was a queen bed in the second room. They slept in that together. And to this day at nearly 13 and 11, that the elder still wants to be in the bed with his brother. We are now in a sleep situation where this is causing a lot of tension in our house because the youngest wants his freedom.
He wants his own room. He wants his own bed. We’ve been through a few months at a time where I’ve had him on the floor next to me. But again, we’ve managed to convince is Jack to let him back in his room. But basically right now, every night, anger sleeps on the floor at the end of his brother’s bed.
And we’ve had a discussion and he’ll do that until, as long as he’s ready. And even though he has the cognitive ability to understand that fear-based he, he can’t identify why. Yeah. And I think underlying all of that is that the disrupted sleep, the fact that honestly, over all of them, these use it.
Yeah. They’ve slept through the night a lot sometimes, but often not often. It’s still waking in the night needing reassurance, nightmares, need a drink, need to go to the toilet. Just need to be cuddled kissed. And
Bree: so basically very normal human needs, especially the children.
Kelly: Yep. A hundred percent normal human needs.
And then building that confidence I think from a sleep perspective, definitely my oldest does have sleep issues and we are getting some treatment around that. And one of my subjects of interest is sleep hygiene and how to establish good baselines for sleep habits, which I think is something we want to talk about, which is.
The difference between control and trying to control another human sleep habits versus influencing, and creating context and creating an environment that encourages, which is the best possible sleep outcomes given circumstance, because at the end of the day, sleep is a brain activity it’s but it’s got so many contributing factors, but every human sleeps differently.
And I think one of, at its base element sleep is just another example of where we as a parent, when we have a child, we initially go into that going it’s my baby. I will teach it X, Y, Z. It will do X, but let me tell you the older they get, the more you realize there are whole human from the moment they’re born, they might not be able to communicate with you.
They may still be evolving. But they not just taking on your habits. So that whole sleep thing is almost like taking a step back and going, just ask him, what does this person need that separate from me?
Bree: Absolutely. And as I said earlier, I think going into parenthood, I had this concept that my baby would sleep through the night.
Probably by six months, that felt like a reasonable timeframe for me. But there is research to suggest that for babies between six to 18 months, 85% wake overnight. So that’s the majority. And I don’t know the research beyond that age, but everyone I speak to whether their children are 2, 3, 5, 12, their children are still waking overnight.
They may have one parent in the bed with them. They may be swapping beds throughout the night. And in my mind, once we got to that elusive goal of sleeping through the night, that was it. We’d conquered sleep. We’d got there. Everything was going to be better. And honestly, it didn’t even occur to me that.
That sleep wasn’t linear, that it would fluctuate that even if we did get to the point of sleeping through the night, which if I’m honest, we haven’t even reached yet. Quite frankly, at three, my little boys still does not consistently sleep through the night, but I thought that once we got there, that was the end.
And I didn’t realize that things would disrupt that teething and moving homes or a new baby coming into the picture toilet training, all those things would cause regression of some sort. The other thing that I didn’t, that didn’t really occur to me is that as an adult, I don’t even sleep through the night.
For example, when I was pregnant, I was waking two or three times a night to go to the toilet, or now that I’m breastfeeding, I might wake up and have it drink. And these are the same needs that our babies have, but they’re not able to meet that need without an adult or a caregiver. So it’s very normal for babies, children, and adults to wake through the night.
But younger babies are less equipped to meet these needs without us.
Kelly: Yeah. And I actually want you let’s say that again, cause I think it’s a really important when we’re so focused on our children’s sleep. We forget if you just ask yourself for a moment. When was the last time I went to sleep, turned off the light, put my head on a pillow and didn’t wake up until the next morning at a reasonable time or to your alarm?
Yeah honestly, It doesn’t happen a lot. I’ve heard it around when people are like, I had such a good sleep last night. I can’t remember the last time I just went to sleep and I slept through the night we do wake up. We change positions, we use the bathroom, we get hot, we get cold. If you’re at my age, you get night sweats,
Bree: Or if you’ve just had a baby, you’re probably getting those too. You might leak milk. And that wakes you up. There are so many reasons that we wake over night and it’s the same for
Kelly: our babies. We’re adults. We can self-sooth we have the cognitive ability to go, oh, that was a nightmare, but I’m okay. I’m fine.
Everybody’s safe. We can get up and use the bathroom. We can go get ourselves a glass of water. To be honest, right now with the age, my kids are at, if their water bottle that they have beside their bed is run out through the night because they. We’re very thirsty though. They can technically get that water.
They don’t want to walk out into a dark, scary kitchen in the middle of the night and fill up the water bottle. Sometimes I don’t want to. And I’m a grown person, it’s that difference between them needing support to do something that you automatically do, which doesn’t even make you realize that we’re actually walking, waking
And I think that something that I discovered recently I guess if a phrase. Our baby’s needs do not become less important at night time having a baby, having a child as a 24 hour a day job. And so for are trying to meet their needs throughout the day, providing warmth and comfort and support and reassurance.
Those needs are equally important at night. And I think that is sometimes that sometimes we lose sight of that, that those needs really don’t change overnight. And for many kids they become increased. But I think that can help remind you that those wake ups are purposeful. So we are going to dive into a few, I’m not going to call them tips because they’re not they’re things that we consider to be helpful in.
What am I looking at?
Kelly: Managing our own expectations and our own health around sleep, because one of the core things is. If your baby’s sleep is disrupted, you getting less sleep is not going to help the situation. So there’s a, I often say to my kids, you can’t change what other people do to you.
You can only change the way you react. Start with yourself. How is my sleep hygiene? What am I doing within the time I have to get the best quality sleep I can because when I am well rested, I will show up better for my children in the middle of the night, because I can tell you, I have been one of those mothers who sits bolt up out in bedroom.
What do you want now? Oh, and they’re like, I’m really sorry. And I’m like, okay, no, it’s fine. It’s fine. And in my head, I’m like, it’s not okay. Don’t, I was in the but you’re just trying to not have that emotional overrun of I’m exhausted. I can barely meet my own needs. And now you need me to yeah.
Bree: And it’s tough. Like it is so incredibly tough. Yeah. And I think that’s the point we want to get across is that it’s not sleep training or nothing, that there is so much variation in between ways you can influence your child’s sleep ways. You can maximize your own sleep to get as much rest as possible in this season of life.
So the first thing that we wanted to point out, and this is something that I touched on earlier in my, my describing my experience is the importance of understanding normal infant sleep and therefore managing our expectations around it. So I think in today’s society, we’ve really lost touch with not what normal infant sleep looks like.
And a lot of that comes down to the fact that people are not showing on social media when they’re waking overnight with their babies. We often carry shame around how we sleep. And for example, if we’ve been told that bed sharing is not safe, we’re probably not advertising that we’re doing it. If we are conditioned to believe that babies wake sleep through the night from six months and our two year old is still coming into us three times overnight, we’re probably not sharing that with people.
So we’ve really got a skewed idea of what normal infant sleep looks like. And I think that this is further influenced by the fact that we have a whole industry that thrives on fixing sleep issues. I guess that the people that sell sleep programs to us sleep consultants, and I don’t want to villainize them.
I think they probably believe wholeheartedly in their work and that there is a place for them. But if we create a problem out of something that is biologically normal, then we can sell people a solution. And I think that is really what is happening. When it comes to sleep. So getting back to our understanding of what normal infant sleep looks like, frequent feedings and frequent wakings are biologically normal and essential for babies.
It’s how they grow and develop rapidly throughout those first few years of life. And there’s actually research that suggests that those frequent wakings and feedings are protective against SIDS, that it’s actually harmful for babies to fall into a deep sleep during that stage of their life. So the other thing to consider if you’re breastfeeding is that breastmilk takes 1.5 to two hours to digest.
So your baby is getting hungry frequently. They’ve got little tummies, they need to feed and beyond the need for nutrients, breastfeeding provides comfort and warmth and reassurance, and these are, they’re not wants for babies their needs. They need them for survival. So I think
Kelly: that’s such an interesting point that we forget about, it’s the whole thing of, if you’re welfare do, you’ve got enough food in your belly, you’re not hungry.
And breast milk is it’s a liquid diet. It’s fast, it digest very quickly. It’s very fluid. They’ve got very small stomachs. They can only take so much so sleeping for a long stretch, their, their bodies and then craving those
Bree: nutrients. Absolutely. And I think that we’ve come to see comfort as being optional for our babies, which it’s not, it’s a biological need.
And as you touched on, we have this kind of belief that his fed his burped, like what more could he need? He should be fine to go to sleep. Yeah. Comfort and reassurance and contact our basic biological needs for our babies. And this is adults, but yeah, absolutely. And I have a quote here from professor Amy Brown and I follow a lot of her work around sleep.
And she said, we are so far removed from understanding what normal baby behavior is like, that we have begun to see this normal behavior as problematic. And that’s it really, is it a problem for you is a really good question to ask if you are getting enough sleep, if you enjoy having your baby in the bed, if you enjoy those night feeds as time to connect and bond, consider whether it’s a problem for you.
And I’m not sure if I said early, earlier, but we’ve talked about the fact that there’s a biological needs trying to change biological needs, evolutionary behavior. Really tough. And I think that’s the problem we encountered with babies sleeping in cottons. We have that research to say, Maybe it’s safer.
The research around sleep is pretty dodgy. Honestly, but babies have evolved to sleep with us. They’ve been in our room for nine months. They have not got the memo that suddenly they’re meant to be isolated from us and it’s distressing. So I think that when parents are told your baby needs to sleep on their back in their crib and their baby is not complying, we start seeing that as a problem when actually it is incredibly noisy.
Kelly: Yeah. And look, the one thing that I do remember from the time that I had with the young children in the UK was that the co-sleeping there, there were three main factors that they used to talk about, which is you should not bed share. And I’ll use the correct term if there is drugs, alcohol smoking involved.
And those were really key things. And otherwise that it was considered as safe, if not safer as the crib, so that, that language and that vernacular has changed over time somewhere, or what’s been made available. But the other thing it comes back to is we are, we have circadian rhythms as humans and those circadian rhythms around us going to bed when the sun goes down and waking up, when the sun comes up, one of the reasons as adults we get incredibly tired is the modern world does not run to that circadian rhythm.
So that means that typically we would have had. Eight hours sleep stretched over a 12 to 14 hour period. And there is research to say that humans had these periods of wakefulness, where they would stoke the fire. They would, check the compound because these are evolutionary tribal behaviors of ensuring that they’re safe.
For the community. And so there, this whole idea that we go to bed at one point, nobody moves in, then you get up eight hours later. I don’t, I think that’s a story we’ve been told or that we tell
Bree: ourselves. Yeah. I saw something the other day that said in our modern society, if you don’t sleep, like you’re dead, we consider it to be a problem.
Yeah. And it’s so true, but wakefulness is so normal.
Kelly: And look, coming back to the sleep hygiene thing, the time that we go to bed and the ritual of going to bed has actually got a very big influence on our comfort when we are in bed and our ability to get the restfulness from the sleep that we have.
Bree: Absolutely. And that brings me to my next point, which is control what you can control. And that is something that I’ve really had to surrender to this time around. I think. With Taj, we did everything I could think of to control his sleep. We followed sleep programs to a T when one didn’t work, we tried another one we paid for them.
We then went to a government run, sleep school to try to get him to sleep. And he still did it. And it was exhausting and frustrating. And honestly the process and the emotional toll of trying to get him to sleep actually became more exhausting than the weight, the waking itself. And so I think that going into this pregnancy, I was like, okay, I still don’t know how to make a baby sleep.
So I’m going to have to control what I can control. And I think that if we adjust our expectations, if we go into having a new baby believing that our baby is going to wake frequently, sometimes for long periods of time, for a very long time, then maybe we will try to structure our life in a way that can accommodate that.
Now it’s not reasonable for everybody. We live in the modern world. We often have to return to work or we have other children to care for. But I think that if we readjust our expectations, We are more inclined to adjust our lifestyles. So maybe we are getting setting it up with our partner to take over watching the baby from 5:00 AM.
Maybe we are extending our maternity leave so that we can nap through the day. Maybe we are getting an, a cleaner so that when we do have the opportunity to sleep or at least rest through the day, we can take that. So trying to look at what we can control when we go to bed, where we sleep, how much time we spend in bed, how busy we are through the day.
There’s a lot of stuff on our end that we can control.
Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. And, having a good mental health is it’s a chicken and egg with sleep. And so therein lies the rub because without some minimum requirements of sleep, you mental health suffers, but without being able to. Understand that you do have certain brainwaves and circadian rhythms and actually physiological responses to things like, and I don’t know how savvy the audience is on these things.
So there are some amazing resources out there on this. In particular, I read a book called why we sleep and I’m a big why person, don’t tell me to do something. Tell me why. And that’s Matthew Walker, which was a fascinating book. And really some of those things like how does light through our eyes affect our brainwaves?
How does it affect the production of melatonin? What is the role that melatonin plays in us getting to sleep sound My husband’s leaps every night with your plugs in, because he’s incredibly audio sensitive.
Bree: Maybe you’re choosing not to be on your phone the hour before bed to turn the TV off.
Things like that. Yeah. And understanding why,
Kelly: because the modern devices emit certain types of blue light, which is stimulus. Production of certain hormones in our bodies, which actually stimulate the brainwaves and keep us awake. So realizing and understanding that this is not just in your head, it’s actually a biological, a physiological response to outside stimuli, which means that things like dimming the lights, as you said, not having screens on this is a big one with children.
We hear it a lot, but we don’t really understand why should they not have screens for at least 60 minutes before bed? Don’t get me wrong. I struggled with this one. I have pre-teens they love screens. That’s one of the reasons we encourage them to read or for us to cuddle in bed for long. I still get into the bed every night with my kids and cuddled them to sleep.
Part of it is because when I’m talking to them and cuddling them, they can’t be on a screen. I don’t have to argue with them about it because yes, I can be a parent that just says it’s no, and that’s final, or I can distract them and encourage them to do other things. Temperature is a big one being too hot or too cold.
The research is actually slightly cooler. We all think we want to be cozy, warm, and roasting when we go to bed. But the research is actually that closer to 22 to 24 degrees is better temperature for the room for sleeping. I live in Queensland. There’s not a lot of time of the year when that is so cooling down your room is a big one with the temperature darkness, again, related to the physiological response in our eyes, convert things in.
So my block out curtains if you can, or I have fantastic, I’m ask that I bought very cheaply on Amazon blocks out all the light. I use that regularly because even though my husband knows all of this, he still likes to read his iPad in bed. I don’t want that light. So I put my eye patches on and go to sleep.
So these are funny things that people don’t talk about, but believe me getting those basics right. In terms of consistent bedtime, consistent wake up time. That’s the other thing, we are creatures of rhythm. And everything in, whether you talk about our cycles as women the cycles of the moon, these are all rhythms and our daily circadian rhythm.
When we fight against that, it makes it hard.
Bree: No, absolutely. And I think that, as you said, there are so many ways we can optimize our own sleep and there’s a certain level of privilege in this in that some people will need to go back to work and have other responsibilities, but if you have the option to take things off your plate in the postnatal period, do it anything you can.
So for me, I decided not to go back to uni this semester. And that was largely around the fact that I knew that I needed that time. That if my baby had been up all night, I could not then rush to uni or I didn’t want to, quite frankly, that if my baby did sleep for an hour or two during the day that I wanted that time to rest, not to.
Catch up on uni work. So really taking a look at the factors in your life that you can control outside of your baby’s sleep. Cause that is a really tough one to control.
Kelly: Oh, absolutely. And if you are a shift worker or your partner’s a shift worker, this is real that there are amazing resources available.
Like everything you have to sift and filter because there’s a lot of junk on the internet. But if you are specifically in a situation where you have a shift worker in your family, or you are a shift worker, do a little bit of research about the things that you can do to ensure that when you do get those pockets of time to sleep, you’re maximizing the benefit of that because shift working is difficult.
Bree: Absolutely. And that brings me to my next point perfectly, which is where possible, get it get a solid chunk of slate. So the research is clear and it’s very congruent with my own experience that no amount of. Disrupted sleep can replace one small chunk of quality uninterrupted sleep. So if you’re waking four times a night, every night, you’re going to feel absolutely exhausted.
So where possible plan to have a solid chunk of sleep? Now, that’s really tricky if you are a solo parent or in my situation, my husband works nights. So that’s a little bit tricky if your partner is home, see if you can arrange a time where he is on duty. And that is a little bit challenging if you’re breastfeeding.
The way we navigated that with Taj was that I would say to my husband, I’m going to bed now only bring him in. If he’s hungry for a feed, now you can also do express a bottle of milk, do formula. There are some choices to make around that in terms of keeping your supply up and things like that.
But that is an option or in my case, I just said, I don’t want you to bring him in to me unless he’s screaming for a feed. That gave me the opportunity to in theory, get a chunk of sleep. Now it is more challenging now that my husband’s working nights because he’s not there throughout most of the night and coming into the early morning, he’s just going to sleep now.
Fortunately, Emmy is sleeping better. I am coping better, but there’s been some nights where she’s slept terribly. So I’ve pushed through until maybe 10, 11:00 AM. When he’s got up and said, I’m going back to bed. I need a solid few hours. And part of this is letting go of your expectations about what a normal day should look like.
When you’re in that early season of life, if you need to get a chunk of sleep in the middle of the day in the afternoon, you take it. But I’ve heard a lot of women talk about, and I can relate to this, not wanting to burden their partner because their partner has got to go to work. Now, some jobs require you to be really mentally.
If you’re going and operating on people, if you’re flying planes, you can’t be sleep deprived. But at the end of the day, you are taking care of a human. You are keeping them alive all day, and actually you do need to be rested to be able to do that, to be able to make constant decisions about their safety and their wellbeing.
So think really critically about if there is a time that you can get uninterrupted sleep, whether it’s in the early evening or the early morning, and take it if it’s available. There’s
Kelly: also a second order consequence of that, which is you. If you are in a traditional, in a family environment where there is a, another parent.
Because sometimes there are single parents and I have friends who are single parents and it’s incredibly incredible. Yes. I know. After after I became a parent, I wanted to find out every single parent or parents of twins I’d ever met. And I apologized to them because I just was like, I didn’t understand.
I don’t know how you did. That’s a bit of a rabbit hole, but if you are in a situation when there is another parent giving them opportunities to build their own confidence as a parent, when you’re not. It’s a perfect time, honestly, because otherwise, if you’re always hovering, if you’re always looking at their shoulder, if you’re always going, we’ll do this or do this.
You’re the mother, the baby wants you. Most of the time that is biological. We can’t change that, but creating little spaces and opportunities for the partner to build confidence with that child and build that bond will pay you dividends in spades later for both them and the team. And
Bree: also I think it is as resentments.
It can be so frustrating and quite frankly, annoying as being the one that is up to the baby all night, every night. And you really feel like your husband or your partner just doesn’t understand what that’s like. So bringing them in on that can really be a bonding experience for them, with the child. And also you, because then you’re in the same boat, you know what it’s like, you’ve got more of an appreciation for what the other person is doing.
So the next one I wanted to talk about. Taking the time to read up on safe, sleeping, a safe bed sharing practices. Now, so many of us go into parenthood planning to never bed share. Now I know that wasn’t your experience, but I would say that it is the experience of the vast majority of parents in Australia these days, because the messaging around that is very clear, but I think we need to change the way we approach it.
I’ve used the comparison on social media before that not informing parents about safe bed sharing is like not giving children safe sex education about it’s like teaching abstinence only to kids. It doesn’t work. We know that kids will still have sex and when they do, we want them to do it safely.
And I think we need to take a similar approach with bed sharing and actually the research largely echoes that. So whether you plan to bed share or not, the statistics are that around 85% of parents will have their baby in the bed with them at some point throughout the first year, whether they intended to or not.
So that is the vast majority. Now like me, if you don’t understand safe bed sharing and what that should look like, you end up putting your baby in more dangerous situations. So as you said with your husband having had alcohol before having the baby in the bed, or you’re having the baby between yeah.
Whether these were informed decisions or not, if we don’t know what the research says, we can’t really make that informed. And that was the same with me. I was, my husband was falling asleep with Taj on the lounge. And when we did have him in bed with us, I had him up on the pillow with me, with blankets around him.
I really just didn’t understand that these things were as dangerous as they are now. It’s really hard to look at the research around safe bed sharing, but from what I can understand, when you bed share safely, the risk is not considerably higher in terms of sense and suffocation than it is having the baby in the cot.
There are pros and there are cons to both. When you bed share unsafely, it is far riskier. And that’s where we get a little bit muddy in terms of the research is often they grouped them in together. So there are going to be times where you should never bed share. If you have been drinking heavily, if you’ve had if you’re a smoker, if you have mobility or sleep disorders, For many parents, it is a good option.
And for many parents, whether you choose to do it or not, you’re going to end up doing it at some point. Especially if you’re breastfeeding, because we know that the hormones created from breastfeeding, not only make your baby sleepy, they make you sleepy too. So for me to mitigate the risk of falling asleep with my baby in bed, what I did was set up, I would turn the lights on.
I would hop on my phone. I would sit up in the rocket to try to keep me awake. Now, obviously this long-term made me more sleep deprived because I was getting blue light. I was waking myself up more walking to another room and I’d start breastfeeding and I would fall asleep and put up, put him in a really unsafe situation.
And so I think that it’s we don’t plan to be in car crashes, but we put our babies in car seats. We don’t plan to have our child drown, but we put up pool fences. I think that creating a safe sleep space. To feed your baby in can be a bit of an insurance it’s policy in the event that you do fall asleep.
Because I don’t know the, I don’t have the statistics in front of me, but I think it’s something like your risk of since when you’re sleeping on the lounge with the babies, 50 times higher than in a car that is considerably higher. And like many people, I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing by not bed sharing.
But I was actually putting him in a much more unsafe situation.
Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. So I guess it leads me to another point as well. I was thinking earlier about the concept of napping. I’ve had very differing views on napping. Some people say I literally can’t sleep during the day. Doesn’t matter how hard I try napping isn’t for me, I can’t slow my brain down.
All I think about is all the things I haven’t done. People say when the baby sleeps you sleep, which is Terri,
Bree: honestly, babies don’t vacuum babies don’t work or fold or do anything else. And we have a lot of things to do when our babies now, but I think the point you’re going to get at is. Even if you can’t nap rest.
Kelly: Oh, look, I think that’s a good thing to say. My point would be experiment. And also that these are learned behaviors. They’re not natural. It is not natural to be able to close your eyes immediately drop off to sleep, get that deep REM sleep that actually curves between 20 and 40 minutes, which they know from the research is the optimum time for a nap is, do not go over 40 minutes because you enter a new sleep cycle, which is why you wake up groggy when you sleep for one to two hours.
So there is I’ll have to dig it out and put it in the
Bree: notes because often people say, and I’ve said this before that when I nap, I wake up feeling worse than I started
Kelly: it. Yeah. A brain rhythm. So you have different brainwaves that occurred you’re in different phases of sleep and napping is highly beneficial.
Up to a point and it’s between 40 and 45 minutes. I learned about this because I was in the army when I was young and. The, in the army, they practice routines, sleep deprivation as a form of trying to break your soul. I don’t know any other way to say yeah, you get pretty broken. Let’s just say that.
And so I had to experimented a lot as a survival mechanism and what I learned in that period of time was how to because I was in a military academy, so it was during university. I was doing military classes and they’re also getting you up all through the night, making you do ridiculous things which is a whole nother story.
And so what I learned, and then they do uniform inspections to make sure they can see their face in your shoes. And then they do room inspections to make sure you haven’t left your bed unmade. And so what I learned to do was to nap between class. So you would have a 10 minute break and I could work out that it took me 90 seconds to walk to my room.
I could set an alarm sleep for five minutes, get up nine, tidy myself up, use the bathroom and get back in 90 seconds to the next class. And I trained myself to do that. Almost what you would call like a soldier position, like lying straight so that it didn’t mess up my bed because I couldn’t get into bed because then they would do room inspections.
So you could lie on the top of the bed and then literally smooth it out and walk off. That was a learned behavior from a high pressure situation to this day, I can. Because I’ve trained my brain. I’ve got certain cues. I can train my brain and it’s amazing how five minute pockets of high quality sleep.
But I, now, if I go for a nap, I set an alarm and I know that if I go over that and my brain goes into the next wave pattern, I will feel like I’m hung over. Interesting.
Bree: And we’ll circle back to the napping point, but I’m curious to know, do you think that, how did the sleep deprivation in the army compared to having a baby?
And do you think it prepared you for motherhood? Because I often hear things like, oh, I’m a flight attendant. I worked through the night. It’ll be a breeze waking up for a baby, or I already don’t sleep that. Great. It’ll be a breeze.
Kelly: Look, I do think it did. On a physiological level because I had some learned behaviors to fall back on.
But the thing about having a baby is that it’s not a job. It’s F it’s emotional, it’s psychological, it’s all encompassing it, questions, everything in your identity, who you are, what you care about. And so it’s actually the mental load, the cognitive load that gets you with the sleep deprivation. So that’s the other thing we don’t talk about all these wild, why you’re not getting enough sleep.
Your brain is going. OMG. What happened to my life? Who am I? What do
Bree: I do? Recover from birth. And from nine months of depletion that comes with pregnancy and you’re trying to be the best mum that you can possibly be all on. Absolutely no sleep.
Kelly: So it’s busy upstairs, right? They have not just saying everyone’s out, we’ll put on a meditation, by the way.
I do highly recommend practicing meditation before bed. And I use it myself, but I, my advice is experiment, not the same thing. It’s not going to work for two people, but don’t say don’t just give up and go, that’s it. This is my lot in life. Try
Bree: things. And at the very least, if you can’t nap rest. If you have multiple children, if you have two kids and you’re exhausted and you need to put the TV on for the toddler while you’re.
Rest your eyes on the lounge, or just lay down or just put your feet up. Or if you have the opportunity to steal 10 minutes to listen to a meditation, these things do not replace sleep. Don’t get me wrong, but they can recharge you enough to get through the day. So don’t write off rest. Yep. And
Yeah. Vastly underrated, take a deep breath, slow it down. It makes a massive difference.
Bree: Absolutely. So the next one I wanted to touch on is to stop comparing. It’s so easy to do. It’s so easy to, as I said in the introduction, when you’re a new mom, sleep often dominates the conversations that you’re having with friends and moms with children of similar age
Kelly: and the random old, the lady who passes you with the trolley.
Bree: Yes. And so often we hear, oh, my baby slept through the night at six weeks or yes, he’s sleeping through and we feel inferior. As Kelly and I were speaking about prior to jumping onto the podcast, often we’re hearing a moment in time. So I drew the comparison of a diet. Now we all know people who’ve been on diets.
Many of us have been on diets ourselves. So if someone’s been on a diet, they’ve done an eight week challenge, they’ve done Quito or intimate and fasting for weight loss purposes, and you get them eight, 12 weeks into that process. They’re going to be raving about it. They’ve probably lost weight.
They’re probably feeling great. And you go, wow, this works. I need to do the same. But what we know about dieting is that generally people regain that weight plus some in the next 12 months. So you might talk to this person about their sleep, about their diet and go, oh, I’m failing. I need to do what they’re doing.
I need to do that sleep program or try that settling technique. But as we said earlier, sleep is not linear. And so if you talk to the same person, three months, six months, five years down the track, what their baby’s sleep looks like. It’s going to be different because sleep is not linear. And all babies are different.
Temperament plays a huge and underrated role in sleep. My a lot of things are different, but my second baby is a better sleeper now than Taj has. Haven’t been through no doing about it. And when we start to focus so much on what our baby is not doing in this case sleep, we miss a lot of the good things that, that they are doing.
Maybe they are calm, baby. Maybe they were rolling over early for their age. Maybe they’re really great feeder. And when we become so obsessed with sleep, sometimes we can miss these things and really compare on favorably. Yeah. Maybe they’re
Kelly: just going to be a restless CIFOR until they’re nearly 13.
And hopefully it ends soon. I say that because I would love to see my child in his own bed comfortably sleeping all through the night because that is, that is the desired outcome, but the reality is he’ll take as long as it takes. And he may can continue to be an adult that struggles to sleep his entire life.
In which case, all of the things we’re doing around, keeping it dark and the right temperature, making sure he’s well hydrated and has the right nutrition and doesn’t use devices. All those things become lifelong habits because he’s just going to be more sensitive.
Bree: Definitely. And babies and children and adults are not robots.
We have unique needs and we’re all going to be slightly different. So I’ve got two more before we wrap up, the first one is to check in with your gut and intuition. So if you choose bed sharing, if you choose a sleep program, be really honest with yourself about how it feels for me. I was really trying to convince myself and everybody else that the sleep program was the right thing for us, that it would give us our life back, that it would make sleep better, but I could not deny this.
Feeling in my gut that it was wrong, but I just wanted to go in and scoop up my baby and cuddle him and feed him to sleep and to be right next to him at night. So try to make sure you’re making decisions about sleep from your gut, not your head, because S seeds it’s nature is that we don’t understand what causes it.
We actually don’t know. There is risks to having your baby in the car by themselves. There’s risks to sleep training, there’s risks to bed sharing. It’s like birth, nothing is perfectly safe. So at the end of the day, the best thing we can do is consider the research and make decisions that feel right for us in
Kelly: our gut.
Yeah, absolutely. And on the intuition point, when you, or if you experience a bed sharing situation, it’s amazing how in tune you are. With your baby asleep and wake cycles. It is incredible. I can’t explain it, but it is. So you S you’re breathing regulates your heartbeat regulates. These, this, that is scientific research around the physiology of regulation, but you don’t, unless you have a sleep disorder, you actually are incredibly aligned to that cycle of your baby and what they need.
Bree: And we could do a whole episode on this, and I’m only starting to really understand it. Honestly. These three in breastfeeding association actually has a good handout on this, about how breastfeeding and bed sharing work with one another, because bed sharing leads to higher rates of breastfeeding and breastfeeding is protective against SIDS.
So reduces the risk of SIDS. This is specifically for breastfeeding parents, but the reason they think that it is protective one way is that when you’re breastfeeding, the baby naturally seeks the breast. So it doesn’t move up towards the pillows or down towards the blankets and breastfeeding mothers also curl in a sea around their baby.
They often have their arm out the top of the sea and their legs from the bottom. So you are keeping the pillow above your arm. I’m doing all this with my hands, but you can’t see it. So hopefully the point is coming across, you keeping the pillow above your arm. You’re protecting the baby from you, rolling onto them because you’re in that C position and your legs are stopping the covers from falling down or coming up over your baby.
So it’s actually really quite protective and all the while your breathing is helping them to regulate their breathing, your temperature is helping them to regulate their temperature and. I heard it. I heard the analogy the other day that as adults, we don’t roll on to pets in the bed. If that’s something you choose to do, we also don’t roll out of bed.
So knowing that kind of gives us some insight into the fact that we do actually have instincts, even when we’re sleeping and those mothering, there’s actually some really interesting research around when mothers and babies Rouse from sleep within seconds from each other. We are so in tune. Now, if you are curled into a sea around your baby, now this is specifically for breastfeeding mothers.
It is different for non breastfeeding partners and for formula fed babies and even bottle fed, exclusively breast milk babies. It’s impossible to roll on a baby when you’re in a C shape, it’s just impossible. This is why I encourage you, even if you don’t think you’re ever going to bed share, take some time to look into the research and go beyond those safe sleep handouts, because the research is still very nuanced in Florida in this area.
Now, the place that I’ve found the best information is actually a U S site called or
Kelly: it’s UK. That, that was where I was trained in my UK training from anything to do with breastfeeding was the LA Leche league. So that was what I was put on to by the midwives.
Bree: Yeah. So if you’re in, if you’re in Australia, you can access that information.
Obviously, anyway red nose does have some cat safe co-sleeping information, but I honestly have not found it to be great. Australian breastfeeding association has some great information. There are also some Instagram pages. I love gentle sleep families. One of my favorite and a couple more, even if you are listening to this going, I would never research suggests that you will at some point intentionally or unintentionally.
So taking the time to educate yourself on it really is an insurance policy. Now the last one is a quick one, not really quick one, but we have touched on your own sleep hygiene. So throughout the night, I really encourage you where possible not to watch the clock. It prevents you from tuning into your baby.
Babies are not, they don’t operate like clockwork often. They don’t make sense. You may be thinking, oh my God, I just fed you 12 minutes ago. Like you were just awake 17 minutes ago and it can make you feel really exasperated and exhausted. So where possible, try not to watch the clock and pull your phone out now.
I do I do pull my phone out at night sometimes for me when I do it, I find that it’s wanting to. What’s the word, disengaged from the situation. If I’ve been up rocking my baby for two hours and I’m over it, sometimes I just want to disengage from that situation and bury my mind in something else.
Sometimes it’s a loneliness thing. Being up with your baby at night can feel incredibly lonely and isolating. And I want to feel in some way connected. Some nights I’ll put a podcast on which sounds bizarre, but if I am up, if I am walking and rocking my baby again, I tend to feel very lonely. And sometimes putting the podcast on is just enough for me to feel to keep my mind a little busy, to help regulate my emotions when I’m getting really frustrated or annoyed at the situation.
So a bit of a case of do, as I say, not as I do, but as I said, that he’s further disruptive to your sleep.
Kelly: The difference between having a phone out and being a clock watcher. Yeah. So I think it’s being, not being judgmental about what’s going on and trying to actually listen to what’s happening in, and that intuition of what’s going on because the other thing I know there’s amazing apps out there for recording, how many feeds you did and which side of the breast, et cetera.
But I feel like people talk about it in seven or eight feeds a day. I think I’m pretty sure my baby fed like 27, maybe 30, 35 sometimes like on and off, on and off. Some would say that’s not healthy feeding, but there was an element of comfort. So it doesn’t always fit in. So sometimes you have to listen and really ask yourself, is this working for us?
Bree: is it making me more in tune or less in tune with my baby as well? Because babies like us, some days they will be more hungry. Some days they will need to sleep longer and some days they won’t. So really being aware of your own sleep hygiene, trying to keep your phone away, trying not to watch the clock or turn the lights on in that regard as
Yeah, absolutely. Look, this was a bit of a long episode, but there’s a lot to cover and I feel like there’s a number of offshoots to this discussion. If nothing else. I just hope that. Gave you some normalizing of just how variety, how much variety and how varied people’s sleep experience is.
Bree: Absolutely. And that’s what we heard when we put this question to people on Instagram. So many people came back and said, we bed hop during the night, my seven year old sleeps on our floor. My husband sleeps in with our baby. My husband sleeps on the lounge and I sleep with the three kids in the king size bed.
We all sleep on a floor bed. There was so many variations of normal and the message we were getting was we’re doing what works we’re surviving. This is working for us. I
Kelly: even had to. Someone asked me, somebody in my family asked you that I want, and you go back to two single beds for the kids. So that, and I was like because by having queen beds all through the house, there’s always a bed that multiple people can fit into because it gets, my kids are really adult size, trying to squeeze into a single bed with them is pretty much pretty hard work.
So I do think that, and even from experience of, we’re in the phase of Hangouts and sleepovers having kids who want to come here and then at 11, 12, and 13 at nine o’clock at night saying, can you call my mom? I’m not ready to just stay over or conduct come and pick me up. And just being able to acknowledge and normalize that for them a golf course, whatever you want, mate, you’re welcome any time, but you can come and go anytime you want, because there, those kids are experiencing sleep anxiety and the parents hang all of, they actually sleeping on a floor at the moment.
So I didn’t think that stays. So I’m just, I was waiting for the call and go, oh, it’s not only me. That’s experienced.
Bree: Absolutely. And I think that is the main takeaway. It’s only a problem. If it’s a problem for you do what works in this season, any bad habit that you create, firstly, consider who defines what a bad habit is.
If feeding to feeding your baby to sleep works, that’s fine. Why is that a bad habit?
Kelly: I don’t understand. Let’s, don’t go down that rabbit
Bree: hole another episode, but you can always change them. You can do what you need to in this season and when it stops working or when you feel you want to do something different, you’re the adult, you’re the parent.
You can change these things. So understand that sleep looks so different in everyone’s home. And that it’s okay to just do what works for you in this season. And if you choose to sleep train, that’s fine. But if not, there are still plenty of other options to ensure you are getting enough sleep and. Maybe even just consider shifting the goalposts.
We do not need everybody to sleep through the night. Sometimes it’s enough for us to all just get enough rest in a 24 hour period.
Kelly: Lovely. It’s been really nice to be back in just the two of us having a chat. We’ve had some fantastic guests, but I’ve missed our big chats. So yeah. Thanks for sharing with us.
What sleep looks like in your house, and we’re keen to hear from you on the feedback. Does this resonate? What else do you want to know? Are there any topics here you’d like us to dive into in a future discussion?
Bree: Absolutely. Thank you.
Kelly: Enjoy your afternoon.
Bree: Thanks for joining us for today’s
If you want to hear more like these, don’t forget to hit subscribe. So you don’t miss an episode. If you’d like to know more about anything we talked about, or you heard on the podcast today, check out our website, http://www.birthofamother.com. You can find us on Instagram at Matrescence dot podcast, or send us an email to info at birth of another.
Bree: If you think others could benefit from this podcast, take a screenshot of you listening to this episode, to post on your social media and ta-da alternatively, consider leaving a review of your favorite things about the Matrescence podcast. This really helps us to increase our visibility and ensure we are reaching as many women as possible as always thank you for spending your time with us.
We hope you will tune in next time.
Kelly and Bree