Can I be completely honest and transparent here? I’ve got a confession.
When I started breastfeeding my third baby, I made a huge mistake. I knew better, of course; but sleep deprivation in the first week or two had taken its toll on my decision-making skills.
I drank a 20 ounce Mountain Dew!
This may sound innocent enough, but the repercussions of that cold, caffeinated mistake lasted much longer than the energy it provided.
It Begins With No Sleep
New babies are so precious. They’re soft and warm, and just beg to be held in your arms. You want to snuggle them forever – that is until you get sleepy. Then you want little precious to go night-night.
Although newborns sleep many many hours a day, they wake every 2 or 3 hours. The irony here is that although babies sleep TONS, your own broken sleep cycles make it seem like this baby NEVER SLEEPS. You get exhausted.
This is when, like me, you may begin to make questionable decisions. Like drinking too much caffeine or doing something more interesting than sleep.
I can’t stress enough how important sleep is for you in the first few postpartum weeks. You’ve probably heard that you should sleep while the baby is sleeping. That’s absolutely right!
I know it seems nearly impossible when you have other children; or when you want to do something frivolous like take a shower or pay bills. As often as possible, grab naps while the baby sleeps. Please.
This may mean you nap in the recliner while holding a toddler who’s watching tv.
That’s okay because this isn’t going to be your permanent reality. This is just for right now. And right now, the priority is sleep.
Since I had an older child and a toddler, I thought I needed to be present with the older kids while my new baby slept. Instead of “weakly” napping through the day, I tried to survive on whatever sleep I got at night. I became more and more tired. It didn’t take long for me to start dragging.
I wanted caffeine. LOTS of caffeine.
The Bad Decision
I went to the fridge late one night… and there sat hubby’s unopened bottle of Mountain Dew. Y’all I swear, this beacon of energy called out to me. I considered it a gift from God, and I downed that sucker.
Sure, I had a niggling doubt about whether this was a good idea; but I was able to rationalize that doubt away by telling myself: “This will make me feel better. I’ll be a better mom for it. Of course, I’ll still be able to sleep. And the caffeine probably won’t affect my (days old) baby. This is a good thing.”
*Disclaimer: These are the deranged thoughts of a sleep-deprived mind. Drinking soda is never a good thing for your body.
It was an especially delicious Mountain Dew, and I was thrilled with the energy spike it provided me.
All good things come to an end, and my burst of energy was no different. As I was coming down from the high of sugar and caffeine, baby G woke up hungry. I nursed and cuddled him.
He was awake and happy for a while, then it was time for us to go to sleep. Only he wasn’t tired. Strange. I was tired, so he should be too. No matter what I tried, he wouldn’t sleep. In fact, he barely slept at all that night.
Interesting fact: The younger a baby is, the more mom’s caffeine intake affects them.
Maybe I could get away with drinking a soda if I was nursing a toddler, but I had to pay the piper for drinking it while nursing a newborn. The piper’s fee was a completely sleepless night. It was a miserable night and there wasn’t a wink of sleep for either of us.
My desperate grab for energy ended up being the very thing that would deprive me of the most sleep.
There’s a valuable lesson to be learned here. First, although you need caffeine in the first few weeks after your baby is born -probably more than at any other time in your life – it’s the worst time to indulge. Second, sleeping trumps caffeine.
While drinking soda or coffee may give you a temporary surge of energy, it can (and probably will) keep your baby awake… which in turn keeps you awake. You’ll be more tired afterward than you were before.
On the other hand, even a 15-minute catnap can be refreshing. Get sleep.
After this experience, I began to think like a bandit and steal a snooze wherever and whenever I could. It truly made me feel better. And you know what? I may have been less present at the moment I was asleep, but I was definitely a better mom and wife when I was awake. The fact that I was more loving and patient made my husband and kids happier.
Learning to prioritize sleep made every aspect of my life more joyful. I’d be willing to bet it would do the same for you.
Have you ever made a really bad decision when you were tired? Please comment and share!