Momsomniac: New Mothers Struggling To Sleep

Most new mothers desperately want to sleep but are unable to even after putting their baby to sleep.  It happens because of a condition called postpartum insomnia.

Countless adults in the United States suffer from insomnia, the maddening inability to sleep when given the opportunity. — Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D.

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Common Symptoms Of Postpartum Insomnia

Mothers with postpartum insomnia often complain of

  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety

 

Mothers stay anxiously awake monitoring their babies while asleep and worry a lot when they cry.  They have very shallow sleep that they awaken to the slightest sound.

 

It is common for new mothers to have postpartum insomnia, but they should consult their doctors regarding this problem to lessen the risk of further complications that are brought about by lack of sleep, especially if they are nursing the baby.

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In fact, as many as 91% of all new mothers report scary thoughts about their infant. These are women with and without postpartum anxiety or depression. — Karen Kleiman MSW, LCSW

Possible Causes Of Insomnia After Child Birth

  1. Hormonal Changes. The fluctuations in the hormones postpartum cause discomfort and disruption in sleep.  Having a low estrogen level can also lead to sleep disorders which could be associated with depression.

 

  1. Mood Disorders. A new mother may experience a wide range of emotions after child delivery.  It can be because of postpartum anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.  All of those mentioned can cause the mother to have a variation in sleep patterns that may progress to insomnia.

 

  1. Night Sweats. There are types of hormones in a new mother’s body that are responsible for flushing out the fluids that support her body while she is pregnant.  Because of this, she may experience excessive sweating at night that may lead to discomfort, further causing sleeplessness.

 

  1. Baby Feeding. Sleep is disturbed especially when the mother has to breastfeed her baby.  And when this happens, it is challenging to go back to sleep, especially when the baby requires feeding during the odd hours of the night. Going back to sleep may become impossible.
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Many parents of young kids are familiar with the importance of a bedtime routine—they’ve likely established one to help their babies and toddlers learn to easily go to bed each night. — Megan MacCutcheon, LPC

Techniques On How To Deal With Insomnia After Childbirth

  1. Instead of doing some chores when the baby sleeps, try to get a nap.
  2. As much as possible, go to bed early. If you find it hard to sleep, try some relaxation methods like meditation, reading a book, drinking herbal tea, or taking a nice hot bath.
  3. You can ask your husband to share the chores with you so you can rest. He can help you with changing diapers and even feeding the baby so that you can take a nap.
  4. Monitor your baby’s sleep cycle. As the baby grows, he will tend to sleep longer, and you can sleep better.
  5. Avoid stressing yourself because stress can also make falling asleep difficult. When you feel stressed, you can listen to calming music, take a walk, or have a chat with friends.
  6. Avoid caffeine intake as much as possible. It has been proven that caffeine keeps you wide awake.   But if you cannot avoid it entirely, you can have it once a day, but never take it late in the afternoon.
  7. Gadgets, cellphones, and tablets emit light that controls sleep pattern. They stimulate the brain and disrupts sleep. Avoid using them an hour before you go to sleep.

 

Rest and adequate sleep are essential for mothers who just gave birth since they will take care of their babies.  They have to be physically healthy especially when breastfeeding and should be mentally sound to be able to take care of their little ones.   There are some techniques that can help mothers overcome insomnia.  But it is still important to consult your doctor especially when sleep disturbance has been affecting the mother’s mood such as experiencing depression and anxiety.