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A Mother's Nightmare- New Born Sleeping Patterns

Submitted by Pooja Jain

Newborn sleeping patterns

"An over-tired mother of 5 days old baby girl gets up in the middle of sleep at 3 in the morning because of a bad dream. She turns to baby sleeping next to her, hoping to find her dreaming blissfully unaware of her mother's nightmare. But what she saw was much worse than any nightmare. She found her baby sleeping but not breathing. She started trying to wake her baby up by lightly tapping the chest, the baby gasped, and started breathing again. Thank God!"

That mother was me. And this turned me into an extremely worried paranoid mother who used to wake up from deep sleep at multiple times in the day and night, just to check if her baby was breathing properly by placing my hand on her chest. And if by chance she was not breathing I use to stop breathing myself so that I won’t miss the sound and feel of her breathe.

Thankfully, it was not the case of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) And my child was experiencing periodic breathing.

Most expecting mothers today read and research a lot during pregnancy and are generally aware about SIDS but periodic breathing is something which nobody talks about. Maybe because many mothers don't think about it too much as baby starts breathing back or maybe because it's not very much noticed, but it is definitely fear inducing for any mother.

When the breathing in infant pauses for 10 seconds at a time it is defined as periodic breathing. There can be several such pauses close together, which will be followed by a series of rapid, shallow breaths. Then the breathing gradually returns to normal. This is very common in premature babies in the first few weeks of life. Even healthy, full-term babies sometimes have spells of periodic breathing. And these spells can occur during deep, light sleep or even when the baby is awake. A baby with periodic breathing will always restart normal breathing on its own. No stimulation is needed. Although this can be alarming but it usually goes away as your baby gets older.

But periodic breathing should not be confused with apnea in which breathing stops for at least 20 seconds. It is a much more serious condition.

There are certain things which the parents need to keep in mind if their baby experiences the periodic breathing:

  1. Don’t shake your baby to try and start breathing as it might cause brain injury.
  2. Don’t put your baby on his/her stomach while sleeping until and unless the baby turns itself in that manner.
  3. Avoid placing any of those cute stuff toys, soft pillows or fluffy comforter near baby as they pose a threat of suffocating.
  4. Always keep the infant’s head and neck in a straight position when the baby is lying down, because the neck bends too far back or forward, which will block the breathing.
  5. Do not expose your infant to cigarette smoke. Never smoke in the home or around the baby.
  6. And lastly it’s not a disease or a problem that your kid has.

But one can never be too careful when it comes to their precious kid, so please don’t hesitate to consult a pediatrician if you have any questions, as In infants, minor symptoms can worsen very quickly. Or if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Breathing pauses for more than 15 seconds.
  • Baby stops breathing and becomes limp, pale, or blue around the mouth.
  • Baby's skin changes and remains a bluish color even during periods of normal breathing.
  • Baby is vomiting or not feeling well or losing weight.
  • Baby is not active or behaving normally.
  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.0°C) or higher.
  • Baby breathes very fast i.e. more than 60 breaths per minute for baby under 6 weeks old, or more than 45 beats per minute if baby is more than 6 weeks old.

Please remember that children are not small-sized adults, newborn infants certainly have their own peculiar body functions that distinguish them from older children as well.
Luckily, breathing issues will resolve on their own as your baby’s brain and spinal cord mature and muscle tone strengthens so please don’t treat it as some sort of disease.

Happy Parenting!!

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store

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Pooja Jain

Pooja Jain has been a professor, french teacher, housewife and now a dedicated mom. She is a bibliophile and loves to travel and relax.
She has a masters in finance and is doing her best to raise a reader. She with her husband currently resides in Delhi with their beautiful daughter and a loving big family

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