Most parents brace themselves for getting less sleep when a new babe arrives. While fragmented sleep is part of the deal for at least the first few weeks, there are some steps parents can take to support themselves and each other during the postpartum period. Nyssa spoke to Pediatric Sleep Consultant Kelly Murray, who shared her tips for getting more shut-eye:
Having a newborn is exhausting! Not only do newly born babies require constant care, but they also typically wake up every two hours overnight to feed. This makes it impossible for new mothers to obtain the recommended seven to nine hours of continuous sleep needed for the average adult to think clearly, exercise emotional control and maintain good physical health. Studies show that women who get low quality sleep during the first three months postpartum are three times more likely to develop postpartum depression (PPD). It is recommended that new mothers aim to get five to six hours of continuous sleep to lower the risk of developing PPD. If you are a new mom, here are some strategies that you can use to help make sure that you are getting the sleep you need...
- If you are breastfeeding, consider pumping your milk and allowing your partner to feed your baby during the first wake up. Just make sure to fully drain your breasts before bed so that you don't become engorged!
- If you are bottle feeding, alternate night duty with your partner so that you can get a full night's sleep.
- If it is in your budget, hire a night nurse or postpartum doula to help out a few nights a week.
Thanks, Kelly! It’s important to reiterate that for some parents, nights up with a newborn can morph into clinical insomnia — a risk factor for postpartum depression. Know when to seek help. Tackling sleep problems as soon as possible may help to reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Difficulty falling asleep or returning to sleep when the baby is asleep, when lasting for more than a few weeks, is a signal to involve a professional. Wishing all parents a peaceful night ahead. Remember: You are not alone.
Artwork by Xi Pan