Sleep deprivation is a common problem for pregnant women, especially during their third trimester. The story doesn’t end there. Sleep deprivation after pregnancy is also common among new mothers. Many women experience difficulty falling and remaining asleep, as well as nighttime awakenings during the postpartum period as well. While some women struggle to fall asleep initially at night, others have difficulty staying asleep. Getting sufficient sleep after giving birth is very important. The following article shows you how to deal with sleep deprivation after the baby arrives.
What Makes Sleep A Luxury After Delivery?
After giving birth, mothers usually have to deal with new challenges when it comes to sleeping. The majority of newborns wake up frequently throughout the night and require feedings and nappy changing. Mothers are often forced to keep their sleep schedules flexible and wake up in the middle of the night to fulfill these demands.
Moreover, during the postpartum period, many hormonal changes happen in the body of the woman. These include:
- Reduced production of progesterone, a female sex hormone that induces sleep
- A change in levels of melatonin, a hormone released by the body in the evening to promote sleepiness and relaxation.
Hormonal fluctuations can affect a woman’s circadian rhythm, which controls not only her emotions, hunger, and other physiological functions, but also her sleep pattern.
Sleep problems can be caused by postpartum depression or perinatal depression, which can compromise the sleep cycle in many ways.
A new mother has to deal with all these challenges to get uninterrupted refreshing sleep, which is often difficult. Typically, only 10% of new parents get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night. In other words, 90% of new mothers don’t get enough sleep for their mental and physical health, which makes sleep a luxury after delivery.
What Are The Signs Of Postpartum Sleep Deprivation?
The classic sign of postpartum sleep deprivation is extreme exhaustion. Even the way a new mother interacts with their partners and other family members is adversely affected by sleep deprivation after delivery. Sleep deprivation can also lead to postpartum depression and anxiety. Likewise, it can affect moms’ perceptions and coping strategies after delivery.
A sleep-deprived postpartum woman may experience the following symptoms:
- Fatigue during the day
- Excessive sleepiness
- Yawning frequently
- Sleep deprivation headache
- Excessive irritability
- Weight fluctuations
- Having a low immunity and more prone to infections
- Changes in mood
- Having trouble focusing and remembering
Related Reading: 40 Days After Delivery – 8 Precautions And 6 Ways To Spend Them
What Causes Postpartum Sleep Deprivation?
Several factors contribute to postpartum insomnia among mothers. The circadian rhythms (natural sleep-wake cycle) of newborns haven’t yet developed. As a result, they wake up frequently during the night. Additionally, mothers undergo several physical changes that make sleep difficult.
The main causes of postpartum sleep deprivations are:
1. Deficiency of iron
Sleeping disorders are associated with iron deficiency anemia. The postpartum period may be anemic for women who had heavy bleeding during childbirth. If new mothers have a low iron level after birth, they are more likely to experience postpartum insomnia1.
2. Changes in hormone levels
Following labor and delivery, pregnant women undergo a great deal of hormonal change. A mother’s progesterone level drops in the days and weeks after giving birth to a baby. The decline in progesterone causes it to be harder to sleep because progesterone is known to have sleep-inducing properties2. The change in melatonin levels and circadian rhythms after delivery can also cause sleep deprivation3.
3. Changes in the body after giving birth
New mothers often experience physical discomfort during the postpartum period, especially during the first few days following childbirth. This discomfort can be caused, in part, by the following factors.
- Perineum pain
- Engorged breasts
- Laceration stitches
- C-section scar as a result of a caesarean delivery
Related Reading: 12 Permanent Body Changes After Pregnancy That Women Experience
4. Changes in sleeping schedules
It’s hard for a new mother to decide when it’s time to go to bed or when it’s time to wake up when she has a newborn to take care of. Unpredictable sleep schedules can be confusing to the body and make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
5. Providing timely feedings for the baby
During the night, newborn babies require frequent feeding. A nursing mother participates in each feeding at night. As a result, the nursing mother can have trouble sleeping at night.
11 Tips To Cope With Postpartum Sleep Deprivation
A close relationship exists between the quality of sleep during pregnancy and postpartum depression. Women with poor sleep quality had a 3.34 times greater chance of developing depression compared to women with good sleep quality4. Since there is a strong link between sleep deprivation and postpartum depression, managing sleep deprivation during the postpartum period is extremely important.
Are you wondering how to sleep after giving birth? Generally, the best sleeping position during the postpartum period is to lie on your back. Postpartum sleep deprivation cannot be dealt with by comfort positions alone. Find out 11 tips to deal with postpartum deprivation:
1. Create a routine
Not only the baby but also the mother can benefit from a consistent bedtime routine. By slowing down, the body knows it is time to rest. A good bedtime routine should incorporate the following components:
- Turning off your electronics 30-60 minutes before bed
- Read (not from a tablet or phone, but an actual book or magazine)
- Turn the lights out
- Lie back and listen to soft music
- Wear comfy pajamas
- Tasks related to hygiene, such as bathing and brushing your teeth
- Practicing relaxation techniques or meditation
Related Reading: 11 Things Not To Do After Giving Birth
2. Keep night-time care brief
During the postpartum period, night-time awakenings are inevitable. It would be best to avoid too stimulating nighttime waking. Whenever you are getting up in the middle of the night to feed the baby, keep the lights dim, and don’t be tempted to use the phone to pass the time. In case of bottle feeding, prepare bottles, a glass of water, or whatever else you might need beforehand.
If the baby wakes up at night – for feeding, diaper change, or reassurance – try to go back to sleep as soon as possible. Put your baby to bed immediately after feeding, burping, and changing him. Make sure the room is dark and quiet so that the baby does not wake up too soon.
3. Rearrange the sleeping schedule
A new mother needs as much sleep as possible, especially when she isn’t sleeping well at night. Most newborns have irregular sleep schedules. It is an adage that you should sleep when your baby sleeps. It is common for newborn infants to sleep up to 17 hours every day. New mothers can take advantage of that time to rest. It is beneficial for mothers to sleep when their babies sleep, both at night and during naps so that they can adapt to their little one’s sleep schedule and get the rest they need.
4. Limit caffeine and alcohol
It is important to avoid certain stimulants, such as caffeine and nicotine during the postpartum period. The effects of caffeine can last up to 24 hours, making it difficult to get restful sleep, causing frequent awakenings, and making postpartum insomnia worse. In the postpartum period, you should avoid the use of these substances. You should consult your physician before you start introducing caffeine again if you have missed it.
New mothers should also avoid alcohol. This is due to two important reasons. In the first place, mothers who are breastfeeding should abstain from alcohol as it can get into breast milk. Furthermore, drinking reduces sleep quality. Even though alcohol has sedative properties and can induce sleep more quickly, sleep fragmentation is a common side effect of drinking alcohol.
Related Reading: Should You Drink Cold Water After Delivery?
5. Take a shower
New mothers might sleep better after taking a hot bath just before bed, provided they take it at the right temperature and at the right time. According to the study, bathing in water at 104 to 109°F (40 to 43°C) one to two hours before bed helps people sleep better. Taking a bath at that time and temperature can make one fall asleep on average ten minutes faster than usual.
6. Essential oils
Usually, essential oils are extracted by steam distillation of flowers, barks, stems, leaves, roots, fruits, and other plant parts. It is an easy, affordable, and natural way to get better sleep by incorporating essential oils into the evening routine. In the world of essential oils, lavender is the essential oil most widely used for relaxation and sleep.
7. Distribute responsibilities
There is a tendency for women to adjust their schedules and make compromises when their family members’ needs conflict with their own. Looking after a newborn is wonderful, but exhausting work. Include your partner or loved one as much as possible if they can help. Get some help with nighttime feedings, meal preparation, house cleaning, and any other tasks that need to be done so you can sleep well at night.
8. Consider participating in cognitive therapy
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a structured, brief, and evidence-based therapy that attempts to alleviate the frustrating symptoms of insomnia. The treatment usually takes 6-8 sessions. Cognitive-behavioral intervention is often called a multicomponent treatment because it combines various interventions, such as cognitive interventions, behavioral interventions, and psychoeducational interventions5.
9. Deep breathing, Yoga Nidra, and hypnosis
In essence, this is an extension of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Using this technique is a way to replace racing thoughts with a soothing and sleep-inducing relaxation.
Breathing deeply can indeed be very beneficial in that it may help you to calm down the various functions within your body that could be causing you to become tense and tense. By allowing yourself to relax and breathe deeply, the heart rate will slow down and it will be easier to drift off to sleep.
10. Engage in physical activity
It is proven that physical activity improves sleep6. Taking a morning walk is one of the best things that you can do to be energetic throughout the day and sleep better during the night. A little exercise would be a great help to the new mothers in helping them sleep better the following night. There are many benefits of Kegel exercises after delivery. Don’t exercise right before going to bed, as doing so could cause you to have trouble sleeping.
11. Do not eat or drink right before going to bed.
A late dinner or snack before going to bed can activate the digestive system and prevent the mother from falling asleep. If the mother has gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD, or heartburn, it is even more important not to eat and drink right before bed because this can exacerbate the symptoms. Furthermore, drinking plenty of fluids before bed can overwhelm the bladder, requiring frequent trips to the bathroom, which disturbs sleep.
A new mom’s transition to motherhood can become adversely affected by postpartum sleep deprivation. During the daytime, try spending more time outdoors. As it turns out, there are plenty of things that you can do to relieve this issue. You will feel energized during the day and sleepier at night after using this trick. If you are having trouble sleeping after giving birth, do not hesitate to consult your doctor or a licensed physician. The smallest of sleep difficulties can become more serious over time.