Updated at: 24-02-2022 - By: Jane Brody

Being a new mother necessitates sleep deprivation. In the first few weeks after giving birth, moms may feel a drop in energy and mood as a result of unexpected shifts in hormone levels, accumulated weariness from pregnancy, and the round-the-clock duties of caring for a new baby.

The so-called “baby blues” affect the majority of new moms. Postpartum depression is a long-term mental illness that affects one in every eight new mothers. Postpartum depression and sleep deprivation go hand in hand, and it can be difficult to tell the two apart. One of the most common criteria for diagnosing depression is fatigue.

Postpartum depression is a significant disorder that may not go away on its own if it isn’t diagnosed and treated correctly. Knowing the connection between sleep deprivation and postpartum depression can help you know when to seek medical attention.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

With postpartum depression, new mothers may be unable to get out of bed because of their overwhelming anxiety, hopelessness, and melancholy. 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. After giving birth, some women suffer from postpartum psychosis, which includes hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and thoughts of injuring the infant. This is extremely unusual.

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A common symptom of postpartum depression is difficulty in bonding with one’s child. Due to postpartum depression’s impact on the child’s development, can also have a negative impact on the child’s emotional and social development.

When a woman experiences postpartum depression after the birth of her first child, she is more likely to suffer from the condition in future pregnancies. Women who are new moms, have a history of depression or lack a solid support network are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression and anxiety can be exacerbated by a lack of sleep.

Can a Lack of Sleep Cause Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression may be exacerbated by sleep deprivation, although other causes may also be at play. Parents of small children are more prone to have depressed symptoms if their partner has difficulty sleeping. This is true for both parents. Women with postpartum depression who are sleep deprived are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.

If sleep deprivation is linked to postpartum depression, then depression may be linked to sleep deprivation as well. The two disorders share many of the same core causes, including stress and worry, as well as fluctuating hormone levels, as well.

Immediately after childbirth, women’s estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormone levels begin to decline. Depression can be exacerbated by this shift in the sleep cycle. Postpartum depression is more likely if sleep quality doesn’t improve after the baby is born.

Unfortunately, getting a good night’s sleep while taking care of a newborn is much easier said than done. Breastfeeding, changing a diaper, or checking on a fussy infant may necessitate you waking up several times during the night. Even if your child is sleeping well, your racing thoughts and never-ending to-do lists may keep you up at night. When it comes to infant sleep disorders, the lack of sleep may be one factor, but so may fragmented sleep, poor-quality slumber, and difficulty going asleep.

There appears to be an increased risk of sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion among mothers of infants who are difficult to settle or who wake frequently during the night. Doctors may need to assist you in improving your baby’s sleep schedule as well as your own in order to properly treat exhaustion and postpartum depression.

As soon as a woman becomes pregnant, she begins to suffer from sleep issues, and many never recover to their pre-pregnancy levels of slumber. Postpartum depression is more common in mothers who report a significant decrease in sleep quality during pregnancy. For women who already have another risk factor for postpartum depression, prioritizing better sleep during pregnancy may be even more critical.

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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:

  • Anxiety, depression, and a tendency to cry a lot
  • Panic attacks, anxiety, or terror
  • even when your baby is asleep but you still can’t sleep
  • a decrease in hunger
  • Loss of enthusiasm for activities that you used to enjoy.
  • Have a hard time concentrating since you’re so overwhelmed.
  • Guilt and a sense of being a lousy mother
  • Excessive attention to the baby, or, on the other hand, a lack of ability to connect

After a woman gives birth to her first child, postpartum depression can strike immediately or build over the following months. Many of the symptoms of postpartum depression are so similar to the natural changes that occur after childbirth that doctors may not recognize them as such.

It is possible that you have postpartum depression if your mood doesn’t improve after a good night’s sleep, or if it worsens even as your kid gets better at sleeping.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) 14recommends that clinicians test all new mothers for postpartum depression on a regular basis. It is natural to feel exhausted after the birth of a child, but you should still discuss your symptoms with your doctor. To rule out postpartum depression, they may ask you a few questions.

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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

While many causes contribute to postpartum depression, sleep loss is the simplest remedy. Despite the many changes that come with having a baby, you may set yourself up for a better night’s sleep by adhering to proper sleep hygiene habits. These include things like waking up early, eating healthily, and exercising regularly. 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 this means napping during the day, most experts encourage taking advantage of the opportunity to sleep whenever the baby is sleeping. Research has shown that sleep quality16 may be more significant than total sleep time when it comes to postpartum depression.

We go through all of the stages of sleep in a normal night’s sleep. During the most crucial stages of sleep, slow-wave and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, we tend to fall asleep after a time. Restorative sleep cycles are quite impossible to achieve if you only sleep for brief amounts of time and wake up whenever your baby cries.

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Consider letting your partner take over babysitting duties for a few evenings so that both of you may get some much-needed rest. As a safety precaution, the person off-duty should not be monitored by a baby monitor while sleeping. A scenario where the mother can nurse and the partner can be in charge of changing diapers might be an option for couples who don’t want to spend their nights apart. It’s possible that your partner may take over some of the feedings for you if you pump milk into a bottle.

When to See a Doctor

Doctors should be informed of any bad sentiments or sleep issues you experience as a new mother, even if you think they are a typical part of motherhood. For those who suffer from the baby blues for more than two weeks or if they have thoughts of suicide or injuring their child, this is especially true. Your doctor can assist you in developing a treatment plan, which typically includes therapy and antidepressant medication.

Partners, relatives, and friends should keep a careful check on new mothers because some women are reluctant to talk about their feelings. Early intervention is critical in preventing postpartum depression from becoming a long-term health issue.

To be depressed after giving birth does not imply that you are a horrible mother or that you made a mistake in raising your child. The best thing you can do right now to help your kid is to take care of yourself, even if it seems impossible when you’re taking care of a little infant. Making sleep a priority and talking to your support system about delegating some of your duties are just two of the many ways that you can improve your well-being.

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