by Kimberly Hayes at email@example.com
Life is full of ironies. Duct tape shouldn’t be used to seal ducts. You’re not supposed to use cotton swabs to clean your ears. Even the 1995 Alanis Morissette song “Ironic” contains little to no irony, which is in itself ironic. However, perhaps one of the most troubling ironies of adult life is how those who would benefit most from a good night’s rest — in this case we are talking about new moms– have the hardest time getting enough sleep.
New mothers are typically tireless when it comes to the care of their babies. They become fixated with their child’s health and wellness to the point of losing sight of their own. Furthermore, irregular sleep and feeding patterns that newborns experience lead to moms waking and getting up at various points throughout the night, disturbing the sleep they need.
Why Do New Moms Need More Sleep?
We often forget how important sleep is for optimal function. When we are not rested, our judgment and reflexes are impaired. In fact, even moderate sleep deprivation can impair a person to the same extent as legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Mothers do not need to be sleep deprived and loopy when caring for their infants, as they need their wits about them for the various challenges of new parenthood.
Furthermore, millions of women develop postpartum depression (PPD) or anxiety each year. An estimated 1 in 7 women experience PPD in their lifetime, many of them experiencing it as their first depressive episode. Getting enough sleep is one of the main keys of taking care of one’s mental health and helping prevent consequences and extreme symptoms of PPD. Another little twist of irony is the fact that depression and anxiety often lead to sleep problems, making it that much more important to strike a waking and rest balance for optimal well being.
Finally, sleep can help new mothers bounce back from baby weight. The average woman should gain 25 to 35 pounds throughout her pregnancy. Several of those pounds often end up sticking around for awhile after baby is born. Sleep is the most undervalued and underutilized weapon in a person’s weight loss arsenal. It helps regulate hunger and cravings while balancing hormones and neurotransmitters that make your body hang onto excess fat. If a new mom isn’t getting enough rest, she is going to have a much more difficult time working off those last few pounds.
Improving Sleep: Tips for New Moms
- To encourage sleep for both baby and mother, it definitely helps to optimize the home for healthy, stress-free living. Reduce clutter to cut down on the time you spend looking for things, tidying up, and sorting through it all to find what you need. Add plants around the house to help filter the air and provide the calming qualities of nature. Designate bedrooms as spaces for rest and remove televisions and other distracting electronics.
- If you are raising your baby with a partner, enlist their help for midnight feedings and be sure to have enough breast milk pumped if that is what your baby drinks.
- Take advantage of baby’s naptime and try and get a few Zzz’s in yourself.
- Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages that will prevent you from being able to get to sleep at night.
- Try using sleep-improving essential oils to help lull you to slumber when it is time to rest.
- If you have a hard time getting to sleep at night because of anxiety, try using meditation techniques to relax your mind.
- Remember getting enough sleep and taking care of yourself are both essential for being the best mother you can be. If you are not healthy and happy, it is more difficult to care for your baby as he or she needs.
New mothers need enough sleep in order to care for their newborn babies. However, the anxieties of parenthood and the erratic feeding and sleeping schedules of infants can make that difficult. To encourage quality rest, create a soothing home environment and take advantage of opportunities for naps. Avoid stimulants like caffeine and try using soothing essential oils and meditation to lull you to sleep. By making a concerted effort, you can get into a regular sleep pattern that allows you to be the best mother you can be.