Postpartum Depression and Being Mom to a Newborn Baby
Updated: Nov 14, 2021
Two immediate concerns of any newborn mom are usually nursing and postpartum depression. What moms don't often realize till later is the challenges associated with either are often compounded when the baby sleeps poorly.
Feeding on demand is most commonly practiced amongst millennial moms and all for the right reasons. But for some of these moms, feeds eventually become the sole method of responding to every cry. What happens is baby will cry when tired but often ends up being fed instead of being put to sleep. A snack and snooze pattern emerges where feeds become inefficient and the only means baby knows how to fall asleep. This creates a very exhausting cycle where baby is fed around the clock.
While full feedings help with sleeping better, better sleep is what will most efficiently promote full feedings. In essence, sleep must come first. Babies who are too tired/sleepy to complete a full feed do not sleep well. By changing the focus on helping baby sleep first, feeds that occur after baby wakes will be a much more productive and positive for mom and baby.
Postpartum Depression and the Newborn Mom
Postpartum depression can be largely affected by inadequate sleep. Moms who have inadequate sleep can lead to anxiety, difficulty concentrating, irritability, physical weakness and hallucinations. This can precipitate the onset or exacerbation of postpartum depression, a condition that requires immediate attention. 1 in 7 moms experience some form of postpartum depression that show up as sadness, mood swings, crying, poor memory and lack of concentration. Without proper intervention, severe cases can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Coping with a Sleepless Newborn
The good news is, healthy sleep habits for a baby greatly improve the feeding/nursing experience, which in turn reduces the incidence of developing postpartum depression. Healthy sleep habits are foundational elements that are geared towards giving parents coping strategies during the first few weeks and months of a baby's life. This foundation can help babies get the highest quantity and quality of sleep while setting realistic, age-appropriate expectations. Although resolving a baby's sleep cannot eliminate a mother's postpartum depression, it absolutely can help reduce its debilitating effects.
Although poor sleep habits can be corrected later down the road, it goes without saying that by gently shaping a baby's sleep and having healthy sleep habits from the start, it can make the newborn days go by easier. I encourage any parents experiencing postpartum depression or baby sleep struggles to reach out for professional assistance.