Reclaiming the "nap trap"

Ever heard mums bemoan their baby's superhuman ability to fall asleep in their arms, yet wake the millisecond they are transferred to their cot? Maybe your baby falls happily asleep while feeding, only to wrestle their way back to the nipple like a little piglet if you dare extract the breast from their mouth? If baby prefers your body to their mattress, you're desperate to "get something done", or believe that your baby is out to make sure you never do the dishes again,  it's worth getting into the biology. It's time for mums to reclaim the "nap trap".

Baby sleep is a strange beast. In the early days, it is worth contrasting the environment of the womb to the outside world. Constant temperature vs variable temperature. Dim vs bright light. Constantly fed vs first experience of thirst and hunger. Manoeuvring almost weightlessly vs barely able to move. Nude vs new clothing textures. Muffled sounds vs loud or crisp noises. The list goes on!

In light of the sensory overload any newborn is experiencing, it's not surprising that Mum's body, with her familiar breathing pattern and milky smell, is the safest place to be. It makes sense that teensy weensy, defenceless, stone age babies would instinctively wake and be unhappy about being left unattended with sabre tooth tigers roaming about. Your baby's nursery may be perfectly coordinated and prepared, but with only 40% of his eventual brain volume present at birth, he doesn't have the smarts to know that his cot is free from hungry predators. 

From a social perspective, it makes sense for baby to "nap trap" you while they sleep. Baby wants your energy saved up for his milk, he doesn't care whether your laundry gets done. Regardless of method of delivery, your pelvic floor isn't really ready for much beyond sitting, standing and (all going well) short, slow walking with a 4kg object (read: baby) for near on six weeks as your insides reorganise themselves. For this reason, carrying heavy shopping bags, making beds and rotating with a vacuum are not high on my recommendation list!

Perhaps nap trapping us is our babies' silent message for new mums to slow down, rest and learn how to be waited on. If you're not lucky enough to have a live-in partner, chef or waiter, a water and snack station in arm's reach, complete with phone charger and a good book, will serve you well as baby dozes. 

I'm not saying to never transfer baby to a cot, never get up to wee again, or do anything that compromises yours or baby's safety (for info on safe sleep practices see here). What I am saying is to relish those cuddles without feeling guilty. Your baby will never be this small again, and you will not spoil him by making him feel safe. Snugglers unite, it's time to reclaim the "nap trap"!


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