Moms Need Sleep Too!

January 31, 2018

Too often a new baby comes home and it is all about the baby. We often forget that moms need extra support too!  Adjusting to life with a new baby isn’t easy. In fact it can be downright overwhelming at times.  No one expects 8 hours of sleep in the immediate weeks of a new baby being home from the hospital, but it is often the accumulation of sleep debt that is so surprising in the early weeks of baby being home.


Most new moms are not getting enough sleep, and the sleep that they are getting is fragmented by the need to tend to their new baby (or babies J).  This lack of sleep has an impact on their daily function and mood.


Studies have shown that the lack of sleep that new moms get plays a direct role in postpartum depression (PPD).   The inability to sleep, or insomnia, is often an initial sign of PPD.  As a new mom if you have a difficult time falling asleep at night when your baby is sleeping, or if you fall asleep easily only to wake up a short time later for no apparent reason, you may be experiencing PPD.


So many new moms suffer from postpartum depression in silence. The struggle is real and the conversation needs to happen. If you feel overwhelmed reach out to a friend or healthcare professional.
We need to remember that even for moms with newborn babies at home, sleep is not a luxury – it is a medical necessity!  This is the toughest time of the most difficult job you will ever have.  You will need to sleep in order to excel!


It is expected that when baby first comes home moms, and probably dads too, will experience interrupted nighttime sleep.  Having this pattern continue for extended periods of time is not healthy.  Broken sleep causes serotonin to drop, and PPD is often caused by a low level of serotonin.  If broken sleep continues, depression and anxiety can get worse.


The sad part of this story is that you will probably be able to handle the responsibilities in your day well enough with a small chunk of sleep, but being able to get 5 to 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep will do wonders for your health and mood.  In addition, if PPD is an issue you are suffering with, the more nights per week that you get these good chunks of sleep, the faster your recovery from PPD will be.


Although postpartum depression is a real and serious mood disorder that I encourage all new moms to talk about and seek help if needed, sleep deprivation is common among all new moms regardless of PPD.  So here are a few postpartum sleep tips for parents:


Sleep when baby sleeps. Yes you have heard it before, but the advice is repeated for a reason.  If you can comfortably sleep during the day when the baby sleeps do it!  The laundry and dishes will wait and I promise that Netflix show will still be there in a couple weeks.  For the first few months, when baby sleeps take a few moments and relax yourself.


Accept the offers to help. Have one of those eager visitors come by and sit with the baby while you shower and take a short nap.  Also accept the help in other ways – cooking meals, doing dishing and helping with older children.  Taking something off of your to do list will free up some time to sleep.


Consider room sharing. For the first few weeks, it may be easier to have baby near your bed in a bassinet so you can feed on demand and attend to baby quickly without leaving your room.


Feed your baby before you go to bed. Plan to get ready for bed yourself after a nighttime feed.  Knowing that baby is changed and fed will give you the ability to fall asleep without worry and hopefully a full tummy and clean diaper will give you a few solid hours of sleep.


Open up the lines of communication between you and your partner. Find ways for you each to get a stretch of sleep so that you feel reasonably rested.  Trade parts of the night or specific duties.


If you have tried all of this and still feel extremely tired, then get help.  Talk to your doctor about options that will leave you feeling better.  If your child is over 6 months old and they are reason that you are still not getting good quality sleep, reach out.  Babies need to learn how to put themselves to sleep and at Family Bliss we can help with that process.