Sleep... Need I Say More?
Remember the days when you could indulge in hours upon hours of uninterrupted sleep? The days when you could stay out late without having to worry about waking up early in the morning? In those days, you didn’t have a round belly with a little human inside making you pee every hour of the night. Or… you didn’t have a little human outside waking you up to eat two or three times a night.
The National Institute of Health explains that throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period, women face the risk of sleep restriction due to physical changes during pregnancy and the need to care for their infant. Thus, whether you are caring for a child inside you or you are caring for a newborn, odds are, you are frequently deprived of a solid night of sleep, leaving you to feel exhausted throughout the day.
This exhaustion can have negative affects on your health and the health of your baby if not addressed. According to Sleep Disorders journal, poor sleep can contribute to postpartum depression and anxiety as well as impair mother-infant bonding and attachment. Furthermore, The National Institute of Health reveals that sleep deprivation during pregnancy has been linked with a heightened experience of discomfort during labor, longer labor, preterm labor, and higher cesarean rates.
I know this research sounds scary, but have no fear, here are 4 things you can do to sneak in some extra sleep, boost your energy and mood, and conquer the negative outcomes of sleep deprivation:
1) Try to sleep when they sleep.
I know there are probably a million things you want to get done when your baby is asleep. You might have other kids to care for, or you might be desperate for a shower. But, try to prioritize what is best for you and all parties involved. What are the costs and benefits? Is it better to take a nap so you have more energy for your baby? Or... is it better to be exhausted and have a clean house? It may be that certain things do trump sleep (like giving your other kids some attention), but if possible, try to catch some ZZZZZ’s with your little one.
2) Get some exercise outside.
Try taking the baby for a walk in the stroller or engage in another outdoor activity you enjoy. The National Sleep Foundation reveals that morning sunlight can reset your circadian rhythm and assist your baby in developing a consistent sleep-wake cycle. Exercise can also help you fall asleep when you do have time to rest.
3) Take power naps.
Take naps whenever you can. If you are pregnant and working, maybe you can take 20 minutes to nap during your lunch hour. Then, maybe you can take another 20 minutes when you get home from work. If you are at home with your newborn, maybe you can take a nap while your partner is with the baby.
4) Get some help.
If you’ve read any of my other articles, you may notice this piece of advice to be a reoccurring theme. I cannot express enough how important it is to be willing and open to accepting the support of others. Ask a family member or friend to come over and watch the baby while you get some extra sleep or hire a babysitter. See a doctor or speak with a mental health professional if you could use some extra advice. You don’t have to do everything on your own. It is OK to reach out!
Hang in there, Mama! You may feel like a walking zombie at times, but you are strong and resilient! Those days of sleeping bliss might be gone for now, but you’ve gained a different kind of bliss instead…motherhood (even though it might not feel this was all the time).