After giving birth, new mothers can go through a number of emotions. Many of these emotions will be positive; exhilaration, hopefulness, and downright happiness.
However, not all of these emotions will be positive. New mothers can also feel confused, fearful, sad, and anxious in the days and weeks after childbirth. In fact, most women experience some of these negative feelings or “baby blues” during the first 10 days after giving birth.
For some new mothers, however, these negative feelings may continue or even worsen after the initial postpartum period. This could be a sign of postpartum depression, a condition that warrants treatment from a caregiver. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms include depressive mood, excessive crying, and loss of appetite.
Sleep Deprivation And Postpartum Depression
As postpartum mothers take care of newborn babies, sleep deprivation is a common issue. Newborns require round-the-clock feedings and they rarely sleep through the night. Since mothers are often the primary caregivers, that means they aren’t sleeping either!
Sleep deprivation may cause new mothers to experience a lack of energy and diminished ability to function during the day. These issues may cause the development of postpartum depression, or they may increase postpartum depression symptoms if they are already present.
Together, these issues can make it difficult for a new mother to take care of a newborn effectively, and they may negatively impact the bonding process between mother and baby.
A mother who is positively engaged with her newborn will be responsive to the baby’s needs, which makes the baby feel safer. When a mother struggles with sleep depression and anxiety, the baby can also experience feelings of stress. This can cause the child to be less socially engaged. Also, the child can become more fearful if their needs are not being met.
This is very problematic because these early years of brain development are so important. During the first three years of life, children’s brains have the capacity to develop millions of neural connections. These connections form the foundation of brain activity for the rest of a child’s life.
Studies have found that babies whose mothers struggle with postpartum depression may have fewer neural connections compared to babies whose mothers don’t have postpartum depression.
Developing Healthy Sleep Hygiene
While it can be difficult for new mothers to find time to sleep, they can still practice healthy sleep hygiene. This is a set of guidelines individuals should follow to promote the best possible sleep.
First off, new mothers should avoid spending long periods of time in bed trying to sleep. If sleep isn’t coming and one continues to lie on his or her mattress, this can increase feelings of anxiety and frustration.
It’s also a good idea to avoid using electronic devices at night. Devices like cell phones, tablets, and laptops emit a blue light which can actually suppress melatonin production. This can make it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This can also interfere with sleep quality, cognitive function, and mood. Mothers should also avoid exercise, caffeine, and nicotine products in the evening hours.
In addition, mothers want to make sure that they have a mattress that fits them. For instance, side sleeping mothers should be sleeping on a softer mattress. Stomach sleepers, on the other hand, will want a firmer mattress. Mothers who struggle with sleeping hot should also find a cooling mattress.
Besides finding the right mattress, new mothers can try engaging in meditation and deep breathing. This can help the mind relax and promote healthy sleep. And, of course, there is the old advice to “sleep while the baby sleeps.” Take a nap on a comfortable mattress whenever it’s possible, especially in those difficult early weeks and months.
The postpartum period can be challenging for any mother, but it doesn’t have to be quite so painful. If new mothers keep an eye out for signs of anxiety and sleep deprivation, it can make all the difference. New mothers can also look for support from family and friends.
If the issues persist, mothers should seek medical intervention to minimize the long-term effects of postpartum depression on both themselves and their children.
Featured image: Liudmila Fadzeyeva/Shutterstock
- Sleep and Postpartum Depression
- Postpartum Depression and Poor Sleep Quality Occur Together
- Poor Sleep Is Independently Associated With Depression in Postpartum Women
- Insomnia and Postpartum Depression: When a New Mom’s Sleep Loss Turns Perilous
- Sleep Study Shows New Moms are Dangerously Exhausted for Months
- The Lifelong Duel Between Motherhood and Sleep
- Beyond the Baby Blues
- Postpartum Depression Facts
- Postpartum Depression
- Overview of Postpartum Depression
- Depression Among Women
- Check Yourself for Postpartum Depression (PDF)
- Postpartum Depression
- Postpartum Mental Health Can Have an Effect on a Child
- Children Can Also Suffer When Their Mothers Have Postpartum Depression
- How to Sleep Well
- Sleep Hygiene Tips (PDF)
- Postpartum Depression Treatment Options
Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.
He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.
Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.