Having done this three times, I have formulated some tips for coping with a newborn and fibromyalgia. They are split into the key areas for dealing with fibromyalgia in general – sleep, general health, pain management and expectations.
Sleep is king
- Give baby to your partner/support person with a bottle (formula or expressed breast milk) and go to bed early. With our first I expressed at 8.30pm and went to bed at 9pm. Husband would hold sleeping baby, feed him when he woke, wind him and bring him into the room. Those precious hours of sleep made a huge difference, especially as I flared the worst with him. Unfortunately we haven’t managed this with our second (reflux and colic, we had to keep each other company in the storm) and third (I’m breastfeeding and he refuses the bottle) and I so wish for those three or four hours of sleep!
- Find a person each day to visit and hold baby while you nap. Unless you are lucky enough to have a baby that naps in their own bed for more than 20 minutes at a time, I never got one of those!
- If you don’t have a visitor to hold baby and baby isn’t napping in their bed for you, lie down while holding baby (meditate, pray, read, watch television -just don’t move) -they will probably sleep better and you can rest.
- Help baby sleep. With all three babies I fell into the trap of doing all the things and just made it harder to fall asleep.
With our first we waited five overtired months to sleep train and after much trial and error we found he needed a good 15 minutes alone to decompress before he slept 7-7 with a 10pm dream feed (anything we did just prolonged it and made it super difficult for him to sleep).
With number two at 22 months (the reflux made us nervous to sleep train) we started ignoring him in the night, he would grizzle for 10 minutes, go back to sleep and wake in the morning so much more refreshed than us going in and out all night.
With number three I was standing, jiggling, patting and shhing and it took ages to get him off. Then I noticed my husband would sit on the couch, jiggle him a little, baby would cry for a few minutes and then go off to sleep! If I catch him before he’s overtired, ensure he is well winded, swaddle him, sing his songs and put him down awake he will go to sleep himself with literally a minute of grizzling. I haven’t figured out how to get him to do longer than 20 minutes of sleep but it is much nicer for both of us. We are setting the foundations for later sleep. Sleep is important for mama and baby.
- Drink lots of water
- Eat healthily and regularly
- Take a multivitamin
- Check your iron levels and address low levels
- Massage yourself with lavender oil regularly
- Take a hot shower or bath every day
- Get into the sun for at least five minutes
- Go for a gentle walk, even if it’s five minutes in your garden or down your street
- Do all of the above
- Enact your natural pain relief mechanisms from pregnancy
- Discuss medicines for breastfeeding (if you choose to/are able to nurse) before baby comes (and there are medicines that are alright for nursing – see this article).
- Aim for one or two tasks a day outside baby that are crucial and let the rest slide (ie dishes and washing).
- Keep in touch with your family and friends, even if only by text.
- If something doesn’t seem right, ask for help (excessive wind etc).
- Know that the newborn that takes two hour naps every 45 minutes and sleeps from 7-7 with two or three feeds is NOT the norm.
- Enjoy that baby and take lots of pictures, they will grow and this stage will pass.
I’d love to hear your tips?
If you are a new mama with fibromyalgia do come and join Pregnancy and fibromyalgia Facebook group.