While I wrote an earlier article offering a dozen tips to help get better sleep, I wanted to write this new article, in particular, to help address the vital need for sleep and rest of post-partum mothers.
We know that sleep deprivation impacts our mood. Lack of sleep can intensify feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. There are plenty of neurochemical and hormonal reasons for this.
This is even more true for post-partum moms who frequently, and understandably, report to me that they often feel utterly exhausted after delivering their baby.
This is not exactly a surprise given that there is so much attention that newborns need around the clock, which can easily lead to sleep deprivation for the mom. It is especially true in the first three months of your baby’s life when they are at their neediest with their feeding and sleep patterns not regulated yet.
Here are some tips that new moms tell me have helped them gain more sleep and reduce anxiety:
1. Embrace your own self-care. That can include a cup of caffeine-free tea or slightly warm milk before you go to bed.
2. Indulge in a nice warm shower or bath. This can help both physically and emotionally help you enjoy more calmness. And speaking of which…
3. Play music that is soft and soothing. You might want to try the sleep sections of the Headspace, Calm, and Breethe apps to help you with this. They have wonderful music and gentle guided meditations that can help you wind down as you prepare to go to bed.
4. Read a few pages or chapters of a book from one of your favorite authors.
5. This is a big one: Sleep when your baby sleeps and that can be anytime during a 24-hour period. This includes during the day. Let the to-do list go. Silence your phone. In fact, put it away. No need to scroll through social and lose valuable sleep time. You matter. Take that nap. Take care of yourself so you can better take care of your newborn. So many new moms have told me that this tip has been so useful in helping them enjoy more rest.
6. At night, I am a big proponent of talking to someone, even if just for a few moments, to help you wind down your day. This can help to siphon off some of the tension that might have built up. It helps to unload with another.
7. I am also a big advocate of keeping your baby close to you when everyone is asleep in the evening. Having your baby right next to your bed can help save you from having to get up during the night to feed them. This worked especially well when my wife and I had our three children. The process may be different if you need to bottle-feed your baby during the night.
8. Avoid stimulants such as coffee or tea that have caffeine. This will help your nervous system be more relaxed and, in return, this can help reduce your anxiety and help you get more sleep.
9. Self-care is good. So is other-care. By “other-care” I mean that there can be others who can also help care for you as well. You may not be comfortable asking or receiving help from others. Being post-partum is as good a time as any to start asking!
If you are not getting sufficient sleep, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor or other healthcare professionals to explore more ideas to help you get some much-needed rest.
10. A little bottle-feeding can also help your baby learn how to take a bottle if, for any reason, you can’t breastfeed. Bottle-feeding can also give you the opportunity to store milk. In turn, if you have a partner, you can enlist them to give your baby a bottle. This can help you enjoy more sleep.
11. Share the responsibilities. If possible, work out a schedule with your partner that provides you both time to care for yourselves and your new baby. Also consider a mother’s helper, a concierge service, or a nanny to help with household chores or just give yourself some alone time (to sleep!).
12. Cut yourself some slack. Being a new mom can be challenging – emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially. Be kind to yourself. You’re not going to figure out motherhood in a day, week, or even a month. It’s constantly changing. So, if things aren’t going the way you imagined them, it’s going to be okay. Try not to worry or stress too hard.
I hope that the sleep tips in this article have been helpful. Feel free to contact me if you would like a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if I am a good fit for what you are needing right now. I am always glad to help out in any way I can.