Sleep help - how it really works (or how I work it anyway)...
Everyone seems to assume that sleep consultants are a waste of money who will just tell you to leave your baby to cry it out - that's not how it works. I promise. Why would you pay for someone to tell you to do something that you could do for free at home by yourself.
I've noticed a few things since launching the sleep business in Ireland.
Firstly that everyone assumes you will be told to leave your baby to cry it out - i promise that isn't the case - your baby will cry ...absolutely...but you do not need to pay or waste your time and energy working with a sleep consultant if you want to just leave your baby to CIO - you can do that by yourself. Very often parents contact me because they have tried CIO, found it tough and now want to try a more gentle approach (don't judge parents who do this - generally they are broken - no one does that for fun or because they don't love their baby).
Secondly, at a very rough guess about 70% of first contact is made by Dads. That really took me by surprise but I've gradually learned that because the sleep issue is so competitive in Ireland it's quite rare that a mum will actually admit that they need more sleep - you do - you need sleep to function and to enjoy your time with your baby. It seems that the Dads are now the ones convincing the mums to at least consider getting some help and support. The "sleep conversation" at every mums and bubs meet up is great for the mums who are getting sleep and have wonderful through the night sleepers but honestly...my advice would be...try to keep your mouth shut - don't ask "the question" and don't go on about the "brilliant sleeping" your baby is doing either - you will just make other mums feel crap - and they're tired...they feel crap enough already...but they are not ... every mum and dad is doing the absolute best they can and life is a series of swings and roundabouts - you may have the wonderful baby sleeping through the night from 6 week...but they could still turn into the terror 12 months down the road biting every other child in the playground...and you would swap that experience/horror/mortification for many sleepless nights - i promise!!
Thirdly...Breastfeeding ...I breastfed my eldest for 8 months and my youngest for a 12 weeks (turned out she was lactose intolerant and eventually ended up on lactose free formula). Everyone (Cuidui included) seems to think that sleep consultants and breastfeeding are mutually exclusive and couldn't possible be compatible. It's not true and it's this thought that frustrates me the most - from my experience a lot of mums give up breastfeeding because they are exhausted and breastfeeding has them worn out. I get it...which is why I think that by working with a sleep consultant you can actually prolong your breastfeeding journey and get the extra sleep that you so badly need. I'm lucky enough to get to work with loads of breastfeeding mums and would urge mums and dads out there who are considering weaning to talk to a sleep consultant first if that change is purely based on the idea of them getting more sleep and the baby being "full" with formula - generally that switch doesn't result in you getting more sleep - I would work with you to do that without putting a halt on the breastfeeding.
Finally, a better nights sleep - that's all I help people to get - while you may be lucky and depending on the age of your little one it could be 12 whole hours - but more realistically it will be enough sleep so that you can survive your day without feeling shattered and have energy to do the creche drop off, get to work, talk to other adults and have the time to watch some goggle box in the evenings without spending 3 hours getting your little one down to bed ...only for them to wake up just as your sit down to dinner. It's about having some time in the evening to chat with your other half or to call a girlfriend, escape for a pilates class or a walk around the block. There will be nights when your littles ones don't sleep - the aim is to get you more sleep...it will NOT always be 12 hours a night forever more - what I help you do is step in the right direction and understand why the changes will help.
People say "babies cry and that's life you need to suck it up" but they haven't considered that in today's world parents need more sleep - life is busier and more stressful, they are working longer hours, back to work quicker after having babies, babies are in childcare and can struggle to sleep in crèche etc which has a knock on effect on night time sleep... it's not selfish to want/need more sleep (especially for anyone suffering with PND).
How I do work is that I get you to complete a sleep questionnaire which I then review to see if I can even help before we organise a consultantion. I then design a rough plan and organise an in person or facetime/skype etc. consult where I then talk you through "a day in the life of your little one" and interrupt you with a million nit picky questions, suggested tweaks, changes, what works for your family and what doesn't, discuss what you've already tried and and take a gentle approach starting with a gradual transition stage with the aim of making small changes to feeding times, nap times, daily routines etc. to help to bring about more settled night times for your little one. I often tell parents that I'm not going to teach them a lot of new tricks as if they're read any sleep book or done some internet research they will know these...what i do it help find a way to work the schedule, tricks and tips to work for their little one and to support the parents by keeping in contact frequently (usually hourly or "nap-ly" to start and as parents gain confidence and babies new skill they all start to need our in put a lot less frequently over the course of the month.
I believe that sleep success happens when I teach parents the rational behind the tweaks and changes and work with them consistently over whatsapp to help them to gradually implement the new routine - it's not realistic to just jump into a new routine and expect your little one to follow suit - changes should be gradual and by working so closely with parents we help them to gain the confidence they need to make the changes (which gets easier as they see the results).
ONGOING SUPPORT is vital to achieve the goal being a better slept household (siblings with unbroken sleep), contented, energetic (when awake) and predictable tots and a more energy filled mum and dad who can have a conversation about topics other than who is more exhausted!
If you're interested in some help - check out www.sleeplikealog.ie or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org