A Blog Post by Dr. Christine Langer
Most parents do not know what it meant to be “bone-tired” until their baby is born. The baby sleeps only an hour or two at a time. Your husband can help, but in the early days, the mother is the only one who could feed the baby. I have experienced this first hand myself as a mom.
Fatigue is a common side effect of parenthood, especially during the first year, when both mothers and fathers experience disrupted sleep. But it can also be a sign of serious health issues like postpartum depression, sleep disorders, anaemia and thyroid dysfunction. It is important for parents to understand their sleep.
Understanding Your Sleep
The first step is to understand your sleep and what you are feeling. There’s a difference between tiredness and fatigue. When you’re tired, you might quickly fall asleep and feel refreshed when you wake up. On the other hand, postpartum fatigue, is an overwhelming exhaustion that prevents you from functioning the way you want to, either mentally or physically.
If your fatigue is related to anxiety or depression, counselling or medication might help. If it’s due to anaemia or a thyroid problem, you’ll need to seek treatment from a physician.
Dr. Hawley Montgomery-Downs, Ph.D., is an associate professor at West Virginia University who conducts research on sleep. He recommends new parents take The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (link), a sleep disorder screening tool that can give parents a sense of how well (or poorly) they’re sleeping.
Steps to Improving Your Sleep
Parents should follow the good sleep habits recommended to any adult, including avoiding caffeine late in the day, steering clear of large meals and alcohol before bed, keeping the bedroom cool, quiet and free of electronic devices, and most important of all, establishing a regular bedtime.
Another thing parents can do is to use a Bebcare baby monitor, which is equipped with a unique white noise silencer technology. This white noise silencer technology eliminates white noise from coming through the baby monitor and disrupts the parent’s daily routine or sleep quality. The baby monitor automatically goes into a sleep mode when you baby is not crying. This means you can go about your day to focus on your work or enjoy a high quality period of uninterrupted sleeping.
Remember the Importance of Sleep
Sleep is particularly important to maintain your mental health. The early weeks after a baby is born can give rise to a vicious circle — poor sleep can increase the risk of developing postpartum depression, and women who have postpartum depression are more likely to have trouble sleeping.
It’s common for parents to feel exhausted after the baby arrives. Newborns don’t follow typical sleep patterns. They wake often, and some may even sleep more during the day than they do at night. But intense exhaustion beyond the early weeks could be a symptom of something other than parenthood. Don’t be afraid to seek help from family, friends and professionals when you need it.