A study by Bobbie Posmontier of Drexel University published this past week concluded that sleep deprivation exacerbates symptoms of Postpartum Depression.
Really? Sure about that?
And money was spent on this research?
You’ve GOT to be kidding me.
So those endless sleepless nights, stolen moments of sleep here or there because I just couldn’t keep my eyes open or my mind awake anymore just made things worse? And wait a second – you’re also saying that women with PPD have a hard time falling asleep? So it WAS the PPD that caused all those racing thoughts and sleep problems! Wow. There’s an eye-opener.
What really gets me about this is that the end of the article published by Blackwell, there are recommendations for sleep habits of new moms.(You can read the article by clicking here)
Posmontier recommends clinicians treating women for PPD to address the importance of adequate sleep. “Mothers can develop a plan to have other family members help care for the baby at night,” she said. “They also should practice good sleep hygiene. That includes going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding naps and steering clear of caffeine, exercise, nicotine and alcohol within four hours of bedtime.”
Hey wait! Caffeine (and power naps) helped me get through those first few bleary weeks! Well, toothpicks too but that’s a whole ‘nother post in rebuttal to a whole new study – about how toothpicks are ineffective tools for keeping your eyes open due to the OW factor. (That study hasn’t already been done, has it?)
My sarcasm aside, Ms. Postmontier does make a valid point of getting practitioners and clinicians to increase their awareness and their patient’s awareness of adequate sleep.
And here’s where I get serious.
With our second daughter, we begged our pediatrician for a night nurse. Tube-fed, someone had to be up with her 24/7 as we couldn’t just let a feeding slip by. It mattered too much to get her as much food as possible. I was also pumping exclusively for her and my life revolved around caring for her but with a lot of above and beyond thrown in for extra measure. Typically my husband stayed up with her at night and let me sleep at least the five hours I could sleep without sacrificing supply.
Just one month after she came home from the hospital was when I was admitted to psych ward for suicidal ideation/thoughts and thoughts of harming my children. I slept most of the time I was there. The nurses would wake me so I could pump, which I did every three hours during the day until midnight or so and then I would go to sleep until 6a and start the whole routine over.
That weekend was a tremendous turning point for me. Not only was my medication changed but I got sleep. The nurses hounded me to change my routine at home and make sure I took time for myself, something I made sure to do when I returned home. I started walking every morning and learned the true value of self-care. I felt guilty at first but now not only have I come to expect it, my husband is an active enforcer of my self-care time. (He knows what a grump I can be if I don’t get my sleep!)
So while the whole study struck me at first as a “DUH” moment, it really is a valuable enforcement of the importance of sleep in a new mom’s life. The better care you take of yourself, the better shape your family will be in come the long-run. Thank you, Ms. Postmontier for your invaluable contribution to this important aspect of Postpartum Care.