Life Style, Parenthood

Tips to Improve Sleep for New Moms

Motherhood is a little different from what you had in mind. Of course, you love your baby more than you could have ever imagined. But you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks, maybe months. And this sleep deprivation isn’t likely to let up anytime soon! It’s not easy caring for your baby, not to mention the rest of your family, when you are sleep deprived. It’s also dangerous. Drowsy driving, such as driving your infant to the pediatrician when you have had little or no sleep, is responsible for an estimated 100,000 crashes each year, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And sleep loss can also increase a new mom’s risk of postpartum mood problems.

Follow these expert tips for improving your sleep while bringing up baby.

Talk about your sleep needs.

Do it early, before you bring baby home. “Once you become pregnant, discuss your ability to handle sleep deprivation with your partner,” says Margaret Park, MD, an assistant sleep specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Her experience is both personal and professional: She’s the mother of a 3-month-old and a 2 1/2-year-old. You may want to think about saving now so you can get help such as night nurse or babysitter.

Use the hospital nursery

It’s there for a reason — do not feel guilty. “This is your time to recuperate from birth,” Park says. “Let a trained professional take care of your baby for the night or two that you are in the hospital.”

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 their class or take them for a special excursion to the museum. Think twice. “Do not take on any extra responsibilities when you have a newborn at home,” .

Sleep when your baby sleeps.

Any experienced baby nurse will tell you that 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.”

Park agrees. “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,” she says.

Do not use this time to make phone calls or catch up on episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, 24, or other favorite shows that you have been recording.

Catch a nap.

New moms shouldn’t try to be more productive during baby’s nap time. A 20- to 30-minute nap will refresh you without causing sleep inertia, that groggy, out-of-it feeling when you wake up. Most people, not just new moms, could benefit from a short afternoon nap. But don’t sleep any later than 2 or 3 p.m. That may interfere with your bedtime. If your baby isn’t on a regular nap schedule, take advantage of offers of help from friends and relatives. Let your mother hold and entertain the baby while you crash for a while.

Trade off middle-of-the-night feedings.

When one half of the new-parent team works outside the home, it’s tempting for the at-home half (typically the mother) to do all the feedings so the “working” one can get up in the morning. But taking on round-the-clock feedings can lead to serious sleep deprivation. It may make sense to rotate nights, so one person does all the feedings while the other sleeps. That way, at least one person gets a good night’s sleep, instead of both of you getting fragmented sleep. Nursing mothers might consider pumping milk so Dad can take care of at least one nighttime feeding.

Sleep Problems

Hormones can also cause sleepless nights. After ovulation, levels of progesterone start off high and then begin to fall. The more quickly levels drop, the more likely you are to have sleep problems. You may take longer to drift off, have poorer-quality sleep, and feel more lethargic in the phase after ovulation up to the start of your period. The cramps and tender breasts of menstruation can also make you too uncomfortable to sleep well.

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