Something that's been kicking around in our minds since the health world exploded with news of all the various and very significant ways that sleep improves your health, appearance, productivity and temperament...what about people who are in a sleep-poor time of their life? Specifically, what about parents? And especially what about the brand-new, first time parents who, so often having and raising their children away from their extended families and support networks, are flailing around in a sleepless sea, desperate for a moment or two of shut-eye?
We thought it would be useful to speak to someone experienced in the art of infant sleep and, just as importantly, helping new mothers get the rest they need to recover physically from birth and breast-feed (if they so choose and they are able to do so). Moni Westenbrink is a trained midwife and kraamzorg nurse; i.e. a nurse employed by the Dutch government to provide 7-10 days of postnatal care to new mothers, in their homes. Swoon. She is also a mother, and the daughter of two Catholic parents with a list of siblings longer than the family tree of all the Kardashian-Jenners combined, meaning that she's been looking after brand-new baby cousins since she was 12. Not only that, she has also worked with private clients around the world, helping mothers recover from birth and helping little ones fall into a routine and learn to sleep for longer stretches. Needless to say, when it comes to new mamas and their babies, Moni Westenbrink knows good sleep, and how to help families get it...though she has now retired from her private work - in part so she can catch up on sleep herself!
Tune in to understand why mother's sleep is just as essential as infant sleep for family health, why it can be especially hard for women in the West to get the rest they need after giving birth, and what new mothers and those who care about them can do to help sleep-deprived families get the sleep they need to enjoy their new additions, and their completely new lives.
Baby Sleep Resources
"A Real Life Mary Poppins Incarnate": This blog relates an Expat's perspective on having children in the Netherlands and the duties of a Kraamzorg nurse like Moni. Think washing/laundry, teaching parents how to care for baby, meals and monitoring baby's growth and development. The stuff of dreams.
The Paediatric Council has just launched a new site with all the information you could ever want to read about baby sleep. This amazing free resource compiles the recommendations and advice of a respected team of experts with years experience in sleep and development. Think videos, advice summarised categorised by age and recommendations for the apps and tools that really work. HIGHLY recommended for all parents.
Moni rates the UK-based Millpond Sleep Clinic too for advice and courses.
This episode was produced by Kari Erickson with sound editing by Natalia Rodriguez.