Getting your 4 continuous hours

In this episode of The Pulling Curls Podcast, Hilary Erickson untangles the topic of getting 4 hours of continuous sleep after having a baby. She discusses the importance of sleep for both parents and shares tips on how to prioritize and achieve sufficient rest, emphasizing the connection between sleep and postpartum depression. Join the conversation on Instagram or Facebook to share your experiences and learn from others.

Find it here on Apple or Spotify Podcasts

Big thanks to our sponsor Postpartum Care Made Easy — it’s really all about staying safe after baby is born!

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Links for you:

Study on 4 hours of sleep preventing postpartum depression:


00:00 Postpartum care, sleep crucial for new mothers.
03:39 Ensure both get 4 hours of rest nightly.
08:05 Breastfeeding challenges and co-sleeping concerns discussed.


  1. Getting 4 hours of continuous sleep after having a baby is crucial for preventing postpartum depression.
  2. It is essential to prioritize sleep for both partners, as this can significantly impact mental health.
  3. Prioritize rest after the first month, as the first few weeks are typically unpredictable and tough for both parents and the baby.
  4. It’s important to involve and plan with your partner to ensure that both caregivers are able to get 4 hours of sleep.
  5. Discuss and decide on a plan for feeding the baby during the 4-hour sleep period, considering options such as pumped breast milk or formula feeding.
  6. Consider a shift-based sleep schedule, with one partner taking the late shift and the other taking the early shift to ensure both parents get adequate rest.
  7. Babies may not need to be fed immediately upon making sounds, as sometimes they may go back to sleep on their own.
  8. Co-sleeping is discouraged due to safety concerns and the potential to disrupt continuous sleep for both the parents and the baby.
  9. Join the discussion on Instagram or Facebook to share and gather ideas on how to make the sleep plan work for your family.
  10. Consider balancing sleep on weekends, allowing the partner who typically handles nighttime feedings to get some extra rest.

Producer: Drew Erickson

[00:00:00.000] – Hilary Erickson

Hey, guys. Welcome back to the Pulling Curls podcast. Today, on episode 228, we are talking about sleep, and sleep after baby, and getting four hours of continuous sleep. So let’s untangle it.

[00:00:12.830] – Hilary Erickson

Hi, I’m Hilary, a serial overcomplicator. I’m also a nurse, mom to three, and the curly head behind Pulling Curls and the pregnancy nurse. This podcast aims to help us stop overcomplicating things and remember how much easier it is to keep things simple. Let’s smooth out those snarls with pregnancy and Parenting Untangled: The Pulling Curls podcast.

[00:00:39.700] – Hilary Erickson

Before we get started, this episode of The Pulling Curls podcast is sponsored by Postpartum Care Made Easy. If you’re looking to stay safe after you have your baby, come join me where we walk through some of the trouble signs that you’re going to need to watch for so that you can stay safe after baby is born because postpartum mortality rates are rising, and I do not want you to be a statistic.

[00:01:00.270] – Hilary Erickson

Okay, guys, studies show that if you get four continuous hours of sleep in the first month after baby is born, you are less likely to have postpartum depression. And when I read that study, I was like, well, duh, right?

[00:01:14.970] – Hilary Erickson

I feel like amongst my friends, when we were talking about when we were all having babies, when we could get that baby to sleep four hours, we were like, now it’s doable. Now I feel like I can live my life if I can just get four hours of straight sleep, Which in general is like baby sleeping four and a half hours, almost. Because by the time you lay them down, then you put away the bottle or whatever your breastfeeding does, then… But a baby can get four hours of sleep. You can handle that.

[00:01:43.800] – Hilary Erickson

And As moms, we’ve all felt like, yes, this is the answer. So when I read that study, I was like, okay, this is not a big surprise to me. So let’s talk about how you can get those four hours of sleep, because when you talk with lactation, they’re like, well, it’s really important that you keep up your milk supply, yada, yada. And I agree, milk supply is really important. I’m a huge breastfeeding proponent, but I’m also a huge mental health proponent. And mental health issues are the number one reason for mortality during pregnancy for women in the United States.

[00:02:18.310] – Hilary Erickson

So if we can do something as simple as getting sleep to prevent it, I’m here for it. Let’s figure out how to do it. Okay, let me also stress that this was after one month, right? If we had had a A full month going where we weren’t getting four hours of continuous sleep, that is when the trigger started that you were more likely to get postpartum depression, which makes sense because in those first 2-3 weeks, it is just a crapshoot.

[00:02:41.840] – Hilary Erickson

We don’t know what baby is doing. We don’t know what we’re doing. Even on baby two, three, it was still that way. Those first few weeks is just tough. Baby is not on a schedule. You are not on a schedule. No one is on a schedule. You are just struggling. It is like one giant two week day, right? So you have to go in planning on that, planning on those sleepless nights for the first couple of weeks. But when you go into week three, you really need to start thinking, okay, I need to start prioritizing three hours of sleep, which the good news is by that point, your milk supply should start to stabilize a little bit.

[00:03:13.130] – Hilary Erickson

And you shouldn’t be having to do things to make your milk supply come in better and better, especially during the night. You can focus on those activities during the day. The first thing you need to do is during pregnancy, I would encourage you to talk with your partner about how you can make this happen for both both of you because it is important that both of you are getting those four hours of sleep.

[00:03:33.840] – Hilary Erickson

Now, we tend to let the partner get those four hours of sleep, and that is not doing us any favors. We need to make sure that we are both getting four hours of rest at night. So what are you going to do for it? Talk about it while you’re pregnant so you have a plan going in about how you’re both going to be able to get rest. And sometimes when I bring stuff up to my husband, we’re looking at it as a team instead of at each other. You get so much sleep and I don’t get any. And then you’re conflicting versus if you’re going for the problem straight on, it really helps. And sometimes my husband has ideas that I wouldn’t have had because I’m only looking at it from Hilary’s way and he is looking at it from a different way.

[00:04:11.680] – Hilary Erickson

The second thing to do is decide what you are planning to do if baby needs to eat during those four hours, because obviously you aren’t going to sleep with earplugs and a sound machine at 400 decibels and just let baby scream while you’re getting those four hours of sleep. The idea is that one partner is taking that shift. That doesn’t mean that they can’t sleep during that time frame, but that means that that’s their four hour spot to monitor, right? How are you going to feed baby during that time? So you can either A, pump breast milk so that you have that on hand for baby, or B, use formula. You can decide this, talk with your pediatrician, you can talk with a lactation consultant, obviously.

[00:04:48.100] – Hilary Erickson

If you have breast milk, that’s probably your best option. But formula is great. And studies really do show that moms who use a little bit of formula now and then end up breastfeeding longer, although the lactation community doesn’t want you to hear about They seem to say that any time you give baby formula, it’s hurting them and you should only be using breast milk. But if you look at the studies, there are good studies about using formula every now and then and how it might help you out, especially in the beginning when you may not have a pumped supply.

[00:05:15.140] – Hilary Erickson

Your mental health is important to your supply as well. So don’t not trust formula. And if you are pregnant, I would encourage you to get on those lists for formula to get some free cans to have at your house so that you can try them in situations like this. Okay, and then how are you going to get the four hours? For most people, I think it really works for one partner to take the late shift and one partner to take the early shift. So I am a go to bed early a gal. So if I started to go to bed at 9:00 PM, I would sleep from 9:00 PM until 1:00 AM, and then my partner would take over and they would sleep from 1:00 AM till whenever they woke up. Now, that really isn’t fair for the other partner because they aren’t taking as much, but at least you’re getting those four hours. And this isn’t to say that you can’t sleep while the other shift is going on. So let’s say you get up at 1:00 AM, you feed baby. Then hopefully you’ve timed it to where baby will be hungry right when you get up.

[00:06:07.900] – Hilary Erickson

That way you don’t have to pump. But I would encourage you that if baby just ate, try and pump because that will help clean up your supply. And Then you feed baby, and then hopefully you get some more rest, right? The baby goes down from two until five, and then you’re up again, feed, and then maybe you sleep again.

[00:06:25.900] – Hilary Erickson

But you’re trying to aim for those four continuous hours at some point during the night. And I think that the shift thing is what I’ve seen work best for most people, where one parent takes one shift that they’re just in charge. That, again, does not mean that you need to be awake that whole time. But if baby needs to eat, you’re in charge. And then the other one takes another shift where they’re in charge for those four hours. And if both of you are laid out, then maybe you alternate the early morning shift or you figure out something that works for you. I will say that when I have babies, a lot of times my circadian rhythm goes different. So even if I was a night out, which I was before I had kids, I am no longer a night owl after that baby comes.

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[00:07:02.750] – Hilary Erickson

Mostly, I just want any form of sleep I can get. I’m not an owl anymore. I’m just a recluse who just wants sleep. One other tip is that a lot of times we hear baby grunting and we’ll think, oh, my gosh, they need to get up and eat, right? Because In the hospital, we talk about watching for cues for baby’s hunger. But when your baby is three weeks old, they’re going to let you know if you’re hungry. So if they’re just grunting and making some sounds, baby may go back to sleep. So don’t feel like you need to get them right up the first peep that they make.

[00:07:27.330] – Hilary Erickson

And make sure that your partner knows that too, because they may be a little bit nervous about feeding a bottle and they don’t want baby to be screaming while they’re trying to make that bottle. So just let your partner know. Wait until they’re actually crying and hungry before you feed them. But a lot of times people think any peep, I’m going to give them a bottle, and that’s not the best thing because sometimes they’re just moving and making a peep. So that’s fine.

[00:07:48.840] – Hilary Erickson

And finally, because I’m the pregnancy nurse, I need to remind you guys that co-sleeping is not the answer to this. In fact, co-sleeping, you may end up getting even worse night’s rest because, A, you might be concerned, as you should be, about hurting the baby as you’re sleeping, which may decrease how well you sleep during the night. But also any peep baby makes, a lot of times you just pull out your boob and stick it in their mouth, which again decreases how much continuous sleep you’re getting.

[00:08:13.460] – Hilary Erickson

Also, I am just not a fan of co-sleeping. If you’ve seen the outcomes of poorly done co-sleeping, you would not be a fan of co-sleeping either. You guys can always choose what you’re going to do on your own, but I am not a co-sleeping fan, and I will never support it in any of my groups.

[00:08:27.770] – Hilary Erickson

Anyway, how are you going to get your four hours of continuous sleep? I want you to come over to Instagram or Facebook, find us in the post that’s about this episode. Great conversation over there. Maybe some people have ideas that you haven’t had, and you can get ideas to make this work in your family because I think it’s so important to prioritize sleep for both partners.

[00:08:47.300] – Hilary Erickson

Sometimes extra for moms because dads somehow seem to get the sleep. But great tips for everybody. And remember that when your partner’s off, on weekends, if you feel like it’s not very balanced on weekends, they are not going to work. So maybe the extra sleep can go to you, even though you feel like you have to get up and pump. It’s complicated. I get it, guys. It’s complicated. But having that target of four hours, hopefully it helps you out.

[00:09:09.760] – Hilary Erickson

Stay tuned, because next week we are talking about getting your kids to help out more around the house. And then the week after that, I’m going to talk a little bit about confrontation and how I make it work for me. Stay tuned. Thanks for joining us on the Pulling Curls podcast today. If you like today’s episode, please consider reviewing, sharing, subscribing. It really helps our podcast grow. Thank you.


Sleep after baby, getting 4 hours of continuous sleep, postpartum depression, lactation, milk supply, mental health, postpartum mortality rates, baby’s schedule, partner support, feeding baby, formula feeding, breast pumping, circadian rhythm, baby cues, co-sleeping, Instagram, Facebook, parenting tips, family support, weekend rest, balance, kids’ chores, confrontation, pregnancy nurse, maternal health, maternal mortality rates, podcast, reviewing, subscribing

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