It is no huge surprise that mums-to-be will be sleep deprived after having a baby as the baby will keep waking up every hour just to nurse! Besides the physical effects of interrupted sleep, parents often develop feelings of anger toward their infants and then feel guilty about these negative feelings. Loss of sleep can also increase a new mum’s risk of postpartum mood problems. A new study published in Sleep Medicine found that interrupted sleep can have the same physical toll on you as no sleep at all.
So how do you cope with excessive sleepiness? Sleep deprivation and motherhood don’t have to go hand-in-hand. Here are 10 ways to cope with sleep deprivation after baby.
1. Talk about your sleep needs.
Do it early, before you bring baby home. You may want to think about saving now so you can get help such as night nurse or babysitter.
2. Use the hospital nursery.
This is your time to recuperate from birth. Let a trained professional take care of your baby for the night or two that you are in the hospital.
Image by Breast. No Bottle.
3. Just say no to added responsibility.
If you feel guilty about spending less time with your oldest child, you may want to volunteer to go on a trip with his class or take him out to the playground. Think twice. Do not take on any extra responsibilities when you have a newborn at home.
4. Sleep when your baby sleeps.
The key to staving off postpartum sleep deprivation is to sleep when your baby sleeps. If your baby takes a nap, put everything aside and take a nap too. Everything can wait, except the baby.
It is very tempting to try and do chores, wash dishes, do laundry and clean floors when your baby is asleep. But accept that your house is dirty and messy and go to sleep because once baby is up, you have to be up too. Do not use this time to catch up on your favorite shows and leave the piles of laundry! If you get too tired, you have a problem on your hands.
5. Say yes to help.
Accept any help that you can get so you can get a few hours of sleep. People think of sleep as a luxury, but it is a medical requirement. When you do get to nap, avoid television, radio, and looking at your clock so you don’t focus on how much time you have left.
6. Don’t worry that you won’t hear your baby cry.
A baby is a natural alarm clock and mothers tend to be sensitive to their baby’s crying. If you are concerned that you won’t hear your baby or if the nursery is far away from your bedroom, buy a monitor and keep it near you. Remember that your baby is safe, and if he cries for a few minutes before you hear him, he will be okay.
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7. Outsource tasks.
If your baby takes a bottle, ask your spouse to take on some of the feedings. If you’re breastfeeding, consider pumping and giving someone else a turn to feed. Try to divide up all your household responsibilities as best you can.
8. Keep your eye on the prize.
One day, maybe tomorrow, maybe when your infant is 8 months, she will sleep through the night and so will you. Some babies sleep through the night earlier than others. If your baby is crying all night, talk to your pediatrician as there may be a medical reason such as acid reflux or too much gas.
9. Don’t ignore the baby blues.
Sleep loss can lead to mood changes, and new mums are at risk for baby blues or the more serious postpartum depression. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, talk to your doctor to address them. Mood changes may be made worse by sleep deprivation.
10. Rule out underlying sleep disorders.
Short naps should revive you somewhat, but if you don’t feel like they do, see a professional as there may be an underlying sleep disorder that can be treated. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea (pauses in breathing while you sleep) are very common among people who gain weight, and may develop due to the weight gain of pregnancy. A sleep study, in which you are monitored while asleep, can identify sleep apnea. Treatments are available.