Lifford native and Goodnight Nurse Emma Pollard wants to help Donegal mothers find practical ways to get their babies to sleep.
Emma’s first book Go To Sleep You Little BLEEP! is a guide to baby sleep solutions for babies from 0 to 23 months old. The book offers practical methods to encourage babies to sleep naturally and lessons on how baby sleep actually works. As well as advice, the book contains funny personal stories.
Emma grew up in Lifford and now lives in Australia, where she is the Goodnight Nurse – a baby sleep expert who provides workshops and consultations to help parents end their nightly troubles.
A mother-of-two, Emma knows all-too-well about the struggles parents face. Her first-born, Cooper, was a blessing who quickly became a nightmare.
Cooper’s sleep cycle was so bad that by six months he was sleeping for just 30 minutes every hour and a half, 24 hours a day.
Go To Sleep You Little BLEEP! contains some incredibly honest truths about Emma’s experience with post-natal depression.
“I can honestly say, hand on my heart that in the first six months of my son’s life I didn’t love him. At least I don’t think I loved him. I can’t remember loving him. I can remember resenting him. I can remember thinking “What have I done?” every single day. But I don’t remember ever loving him,” she writes.
Emma reached a breaking point when the sleep deprivation became too much. She realised that she had to look at her son objectively as a nurse and assess her problem with an outsider’s perspective.
“I came to realise that I was actually the one causing his sleep problem because I was overstimulating him so much in trying to get him to sleep, that I was actually keeping him awake. The poor thing was so overtired and overstimulated that he just simply couldn’t sleep.”
After three nights of implementing her own technique, Emma had Cooper sleeping from 7am-7pm and she was able to rest herself. She soon came to love her son once she awoke from the exhaustion.
Being from Donegal, Emma has some specific advice to share for getting Irish babies to rest.
“One of the biggest things that I noticed about being down here in Oz, as opposed to up in Ireland, is we don’t have the seasons like you guys do. We don’t have those bright mornings and brightness late at night at certain times of the year.”
Emma’s methods are all about tricking a baby’s brain into thinking that it is daytime or nighttime.
“In the summertime, for Donegal mammies, once it comes six in the evening they should close the curtains and put on artificial lights. That will stimulate melatonin which encourages sleep. Make it as dark as possible during those times and their babies will go to sleep much easier.
“In winter, the best thing to do is to keep them exposed to as much of the natural light as they can. If they have a particular room where they spend the most time in the evenings, you can have lots of fluorescent LED lights that will actually trick the baby’s brain into thinking it’s daytime. That will stop the melatonin, and when they are ready for bedtime just switch to artificial light.”
Emma also recommends the use of ‘white noise’ in a baby’s room rather than complete silence. Sounds like a fan, or an ensuite bathroom extractor fan are ideal sources of white noise.
“If there is a constant hum or rumble of something, the baby will sleep much more soundly,” she said.
Red light is also a helpful way to boost melatonin, Emma adds.
“When a mum is getting up to feed her wain in the middle of the night, the worst thing that they can do is turn on a light or a lamp when feeding the baby. Put a piece of red tape over a torch, or a red scarf over a lamp, and the baby won’t recognise the light has come on.”
These, and many many more techniques are contained in Go To Sleep You Little BLEEP! with illustrations and stories.