New Moms and the Effects of Stress on Sleep
Congratulations! You may be pregnant or maybe you just had a baby (and
lucky you if actually have time to read this)! There's no feeling more
incredible than becoming a new Mom. So why don't you feel wonderful all the
Well, even the best events in life have stress attached to them.
Having a baby is exciting for everyone. You've been flooded with company
practically from the moment of delivery. If you're a first-time mother,
hospitals don't give you very much help or advice; they send you home with
this new little creature with an array of demands that you have to try to
interpret. And new babies don't sleep much. At least not long enough to
allow you to get some much needed rest.
Add to that the hormonal changes in your own body, and you have a formula
that's guaranteed to be stressful. Sometimes you think you'll never get a
full night's sleep again. Until the baby settles into a routine, you
To get through those first few weeks and months, here are a few tips to help
you get at least a little more sleep.
First of all, don't fall into the supermom trap. When the baby goes down for
a nap, take a small nap yourself. The laundry can wait, and so can the
dishes. You don't need to have a perfect house. There will be time for all
that; give yourself a break whenever you get the opportunity.
If you have a good friend or relative to help out, by all means take
advantage of that for an afternoon. Grandma would probably jump at the
chance to have the baby all to herself for a few hours!
When you put the baby to bed for the night, take some time to decompress and
relax. This gives you a better chance of falling asleep. Take a bath scented
with lavender; put on some soft music and baby yourself a little. Sometimes
it's hard even without a new baby to fall asleep right away. There's a lot
to get used to with this new addition to your family!
Breastfeeding and Sleep
Besides being the optimal source of nutrition for your baby in her first
year, nursing has obvious psychological benefits for both mother and baby.
At birth, infants see only 12 to 15 inches, the distance between a nursing
baby and its mother's face.
Studies find that infants as young as 1 week prefer the smell of their own
Many psychologists believe the nursing baby enjoys a sense of security from
the warmth and presence of the mother. This is especially true when there's
skin-to-skin contact during feeding.
Parents of bottle-fed babies prop the bottle in the baby's mouth; this
practice deprives the baby of human contact during feeding.
In contrast, a nursing mother must cuddle her infant closely many times
during the day. Nursing becomes more than a way to feed a baby; it's a
source of warmth and comfort.
This method of feeding and nurturing the baby makes it natural to fall
asleep quickly. When you know how much he consumes in one feeding, try to
gently nudge your baby awake if he falls asleep too soon. You can easily
rouse him with a little tickle of the feet. Otherwise, he'll get hungry
sooner and you'll be feeding your baby more often.
Breast-feeding is good for new mothers as well as for their babies. There
are no bottles to sterilize, and no formula to buy, measure, and mix. It may
be easier for a nursing mother to lose the pounds of pregnancy; nursing
burns up extra calories.
Lactation also stimulates the uterus to contract back to its original size.
The nature of the nursing experience forces the new mother to get needed
rest. She must sit down, put her feet up, and relax every few hours to
nurse. Nursing at night is easy as well. No one has to stumble to the
refrigerator for a bottle and warm it while the baby cries. If she's lying
down, a mother can doze while she nurses.