Your New Baby: After the Birth - Postpartum Depression, Getting Enough Sleep

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Postpartum Depression (PPD)

PPD affects about 10 percent of all new moms. The symptoms differ from woman to woman, and it’s normal to experience at least some of these after birth. It’s important, however, to look out for the following symptoms—be honest with yourself about how you are feeling, and talk to your doctor if you are concerned.

  • Lethargy

  • Tearfulness

  • Anxiety

  • Guilt

  • Irritability

  • Confusion

  • Disturbed sleep and excessive exhaustion

  • Difficulty making decisions

  • Loss of self-esteem

  • Lack of confidence in your ability as a mother

  • Loss of libido

  • Loss of appetite

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Hostility or indifference to people you normally love

  • Fear of harming yourself or your baby

  • Helplessness

Allow others to help

There is no shame in suffering from PPD. Rest, take time for yourself, and accept any help offered. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen after a week.

Getting Enough Sleep

Having already experienced difficulty sleeping in the last weeks of pregnancy, and then the physically exhausting experience of labor, it can seem daunting to discover that your new baby will offer you little opportunity to rest. But sleep is essential for new moms (and dads), and there are ways to juggle things so that you get what you need.

  • Sleep when your baby sleeps—if she’s a night owl and keeps you up every night, then go with it until you feel energetic enough to try to adjust her routine

  • Forget about housework and all other chores—it’s more important that you rest when you can

  • Try not to feel guilty about spending time watching TV with your feet propped up while your baby is at your breast, or catching a nap when she dozes off to sleep

  • Don’t panic—you’ll need to make a mind shift and forget about the idea of getting seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in a row; if you accept your sleep is going to be broken, you’ll feel calmer and less stressed

  • Even 10-minute naps will help to relieve the sleep drought, and recharge your batteries

  • You may find it hard if you are normally organized and energetic, but take up all offers of help so that you can rest and sleep

  • Pay a visit to mom and dad or a kindly friend, who will welcome the opportunity to pamper you and spend time with your little one while you rest

  • Figure out who is the owl and who is the lark—if your partner loves getting up early, then hand over baby after nursing and go back to sleep; if you don’t mind late nights, then take over while your partner goes to bed

  • Get organized—if you get yourself into some sort of a routine, you’ll know when you can sleep and when you’ll have some time for yourself

  • Finally, pamper yourself a little: have a long bath scented with relaxing aromatherapy oils then take a book to bed while someone else watches baby—you may only read a page or two, but this time to yourself will help you unwind, and you’ll drift into a restorative sleep

Surviving sleeplessness

One study found that new moms sleep, on average, only four hours a night—and sometimes less if they are breastfeeding—so it’s not surprising you’re tired. The most important thing you can do is avoid panicking. Try not to watch the clock, which will only remind you of how little sleep you are getting. Fall into rhythm with your baby, and remember, once she’s established a healthy sleep cycle, you’ll quickly be able to catch up on yours.

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