Lack of Sleep Can Directly Cause Postpartum Depression in Some Women

Postpartum care for mothers should be just as important as pregnancy care.

breastfeeding and your sex life
Image: Julien Pouplard via Unsplash

The pregnancy journey is one of the most beautiful adventures you can ever embark on in your lifetime. Your body shifts, changes, and transforms itself to hold and grow life. When this happens, mothers are also actively preparing for the birth of their child. Feeding, changing, teaching, and much, much more begins immediately after the baby is born. Many of these responsibilities fall on the mother, and It can take a toll on the woman who’s just spent the past nine months of her life growing more tired by the minute. Sleep is extremely important for rest, restoration, and keeping our bodies going.

During an ideal night of sleep, we complete a balanced cycle through various sleep stages. The most important stages, slow-wave and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, tend to occur after we have already been asleep for a while. Sleeping for only short periods at a time — and waking up every time the baby fusses — makes it virtually impossible to complete these restorative sleep cycles. says Sleep Foundation

Unfortunately, new mothers don’t get enough sleep. And as someone who has experienced this very scenario was new mother Bianca Cheah. In her early Instagram posts, she talks about the struggles of being a first-time mother with the lack of sleep which was leading her to not being able to cope. Knowing that her doctor said she was spiraling into PPD made her pull herself out and think of change. She eventually sought an arrangement to increase her nighttime sleep by switching baby duty with her partner so she could get a few nights of uninterrupted shut-eye in the other room without the baby monitor. Ever since then, her days dramatically changed, for the better. New mothers need SLEEP and mental health support!

We need to help create more awareness around mothers, the postpartum period, and the lack of sleep they get. The level of care a mother gets declines greatly after the birth of the baby. Babys have their weekly, monthly, quarterly, and half-yearly wellness checkups — mothers have a couple after birth, and that’s it. What about the mum? When you have a baby, you don’t really get much sleep because of the round-the-clock feeding and care, even up until the toddler months. This can directly lead to postpartum depression and more serious mental health issues. We need to raise awareness for continuing that care post-birth, as the mother gets used to her body again, her new routine, and a new baby.

postpartum depression
Image: Jonathan Borba via Unsplash

What is Postpartum Depression?

For about 1 in 8 women, becoming a new mother can take a toll on them and become a condition known as postpartum depression, according to the Sleep Foundation. While sleep deprivation is unavoidable, a new mother can experience a shift in hormone levels, fatigue from pregnancy, a dip in energy and mood for the first few weeks after giving birth which is Baby Blues. While fatigue is quite common in new mothers, it can also continue many months or years later. it’s important to distinguish what is sleep deprivation and what is PPD. Women need to be able to see a mental health specialist in order to do this, which is only really available to those who have the right health insurance, especially during this ongoing pandemic.

It’s important to note that this serious condition may not go away on its own without proper treatment, so seeking help from a doctor is key. Lack of sleep can even make both you and your partner experience depressive symptoms.

postpartum depression
Image: Pelayo Arbués via Unsplash

Why We Need to Advocate for Postpartum Care for Mothers

Depression is a monster to tackle, and having the proper care in place for new families to transition into their new lives is of the utmost importance. We don’t have any system that calls for a baby nurse or companion to assist. Women have to rely on themselves or their families, but this is not always something that is available to them during these current pandemic circumstances. There is also a poor lack of education surrounding sleep and care needed for women after they give birth. Guides like this one from the Sleep Foundation need to be everywhere. This gives a list of things you can do to sleep better if you are suffering from postpartum depression.

There is also a stigma against women who choose to employ a nanny. They are accused of being a “bad parent” and feel horrible for having a professional assist them in the raising of a child. This needs to be dropped immediately also. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have help, nannies and baby nurses can be incredible guardians that lift us up in the early periods of a child’s life. In the film Tully, Charlize Theron captures what it is to struggle with these issues perfectly, indeed saying that she could not have survived if it wasn’t for the help that she got, even though it was all imagined in the end, because of her lack, of, sleep.

We need to be able to address the elephant in the room. Being a mother is tough. Times are so, so, so different now. Women are expected to juggle career, family, and their own life but are berated for trying to do so. We should employ an attitude that allows us to not judge anyone for what they want to do. Whether that be to keep working, hire a baby nurse, or do it all themselves. And we should be able to help and support them in any way that we can.

postpartum depression
Image: Jonathan Borba via Unsplash


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