Being a new mother necessitates sleep deprivation. Mothers’ energy and moods can drop in the first few weeks after giving birth due to fluctuations in hormone levels, tiredness from pregnancy, and the 24-hour responsibilities of caring for a newborn.
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The so-called “baby blues” are common among new mothers. Depression following childbirth affects one in every eight women and is termed medically postpartum depression. Postpartum depression and sleep deprivation go hand in hand, and it can be difficult to tell the two apart. Doctors commonly use fatigue as one of several criteria when determining a patient’s diagnosis of depression.
Postpartum depression is a significant disorder that may not go away on its own if it isn’t treated. Understanding the link between postpartum depression and sleep loss might help you know whether to seek medical attention.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
When a woman suffers from postpartum depression, she may experience excessive anxiety, hopelessness, and inability to get out of bed. Unlike the baby blues, these sensations persist longer and are more severe. They can also have a negative impact on one’s capacity to lead a normal life. Postpartum psychosis, which can include hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of harming the baby, affects a small percentage of new moms.
Postpartum depression can make it difficult for new mothers to connect with their newborns. Because of this, postpartum depression can have a substantial impact on the child’s development, resulting in emotional disorders, low self-esteem, and difficulties in socializing with peers.
Having postpartum depression following the birth of a child increases the risk of developing postpartum depression throughout subsequent pregnancies. First-time mothers, mothers of preterm babies, those with a history of depression, and those without a strong support network are all more likely to suffer from postpartum depression than other women. Lack of sleep is being increasingly acknowledged as a role in postpartum depression and anxiety.
Can a Lack of Sleep Cause Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression may be exacerbated by sleep loss, despite the fact that many other causes are at play. Research has shown that both moms and fathers of small children are more prone to suffer from depression if the mother is not getting enough sleep. Suicidal thoughts are also associated with sleep deprivation in postpartum mothers.
Postpartum depression and sleep deprivation appear to have a bidirectional link, with depression frequently causing sleep issues. In addition, stress, worry, and fluctuating hormone levels are common causes of both of these ailments.
There is a sharp decline in the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid in post-partum females. Depression can be exacerbated by this shift in the sleep cycle. Postpartum depression is more likely to develop over time if sleep quality doesn’t get better after the baby is born.
When you’re caring for a baby, getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy. You may have to get up several times during the night to breastfeed, change a diaper, or check on your baby’s squirmy behavior. Even if your kid is sleeping soundly, you may find yourself tossing and turning at night because of your ideas and to-do lists. For these reasons and others, sleep deprivation, poor sleep quality, and difficulties falling asleep are all possible causes of insomnia in new mothers.
When a baby is difficult to settle and wakes up frequently at night, the mother is more likely to suffer from sadness, worry, and exhaustion. Doctors may need to assist you in improving both your and your baby’s sleep schedules in order to properly treat exhaustion and postpartum depression.
Most new mothers have trouble sleeping from the first trimester on, and for many of them, it’s impossible to get back to the peaceful sleep they had previously. Women who report a decrease in sleep quality during pregnancy are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Women with a history of pre-existing mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, may want to give improved sleep a higher priority during pregnancy.
Postpartum Depression vs. Sleep Deprivation
Both sleep deprivation and postpartum depression are marked by anger, overwhelming feelings, difficulties concentrating, bad moods, exhaustion, as well as inability, to fall asleep. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, may manifest in the form of the following more severe symptoms:
- Mood swings and bouts of crying accompany feelings of sadness.
- A state of agitation, fear, or even a panic attack.
- Lack of sleep despite your child’s sleep.
- Inability to eat.
- the inability to get excited about the things you used to love.
- Have a hard time concentrating since you’re so overwhelmed.
- Guilt and a sense of being a bad mother.
- Over- or under-involvement with the baby. Both are problematic.
Depression following the birth of a baby is possible, although it is more common than it develops during the following months. It’s possible that the symptoms of postpartum depression go unnoticed by doctors because they’re so similar to those of normal postpartum changes, such as sleep habits, appetite, and libido.
After a decent night’s sleep, if your mood doesn’t improve or if it worsens even as your baby gets better at sleeping, you may have postpartum depression.
OB/GYNs are encouraged by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to conduct routine screenings for postpartum depression in all new moms. It is natural to feel exhausted after the birth of a child, but you should still discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Postpartum depression can be ruled out by a few questions they can ask you.
Postpartum depression and sleep deprivation are also possible. You and your doctor can come up with a plan to treat both of these issues.
How to Sleep Better if You Have Postpartum Depression
Sleep deprivation is one of the easiest causes of postpartum depression to remedy. In spite of the numerous adjustments that come with having a young baby at home, you may improve your quality of sleep by using good sleep hygiene techniques whenever possible. These include things like waking up to natural light, eating healthfully, and exercising on a regular basis. Every morning, you and your infant can go for a walk.
When your baby’s sleep schedule is unpredictable, it’s tough to stick to a routine sleep plan. Even if it means napping during the day, most doctors encourage taking advantage of the baby’s slumber whenever possible. When it comes to postpartum depression, however, some evidence suggests that the quality of sleep is maybe even more essential than the quantity.
We go through many stages of sleep throughout a good night’s sleep. Slow-wave and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep tends to occur after we’ve been asleep for some time. It’s quite tough to get through these restorative sleep cycles if you’re only sleeping for short bursts and getting up every time your baby cries.
So that you and your partner may both receive a few nights of unbroken sleep, consider trading off on baby duty. There should be no baby monitor for the individual who is not on duty. The mother can nurse and the partner can take care of the diapers in a circumstance where the couple doesn’t want to sleep apart. Alternatively, your partner may be able to relieve you of some of the feeding duties by pumping milk into a bottle.
When to See a Doctor
Even if you think your sleep issues are just a typical aspect of being a new mom, you should bring them up with your doctor. In particular, if the baby blues linger more than two weeks or if you have suicidal or harmful thoughts regarding your infant, you should get professional help immediately! In most cases, a combination of therapy and antidepressant medication is used to treat depression.
It’s a good idea for partners, family, and friends to keep a careful eye on new mothers because some women may be reluctant to communicate their feelings. Preventing postpartum depression from becoming a long-term health issue begins with early treatment.
As a new mother, you may experience postpartum depression. This does not imply that you are a horrible mother or that you did anything wrong. The best thing you can do for your kid at this stage is to take care of yourself. It’s important to make sleep a priority and talk to your family and friends to see if they can help out.