How To Cope With Less Sleep Before And After Childbirth
A good sound sleep is never a luxury , rather it is a necessity , especially when we are expecting . However , there comes many physical and emotional barriers and obstacles to get a sound sleep during this phase . When we become pregnant , one of the very first symptoms we notice is that we feel tired and exhausted . Sleep , thus , becomes irresistible to us . It is as hard to get a good night’s sleep when we are pregnant as it is when we are a new parent .
Expecting mothers are the most affected by sleep loss. We feel disturbed from the day one of pregnancy because of uneasiness at night. All we feel is nausea, back pain, fetal movements and frequent washroom trips. We are stressed and have anxiety about labor, delivery and motherhood. Therefore, we find it difficult to sleep. I suffered with extreme case of heartburn. The hormonal changes caused heartburn, along with this I was detected with stones in my gall bladder (in my first ultrasound). My gall bladder had shrunk down to its minimum size, adding a lot more to the heartburn and gas problems. Also, I was overweight in the third trimester, about double my body weight. I found it difficult to eat, breathe, walk and even sleep . As told by my doctor, I had an excess build-up of fatty tissues in my throat, due to weight gain because of which I was unable to sleep properly. Moreover, my frequent washroom trips added to my disrupted sleep. So , I started cutting back a little on liquids close to my bedtime. I was even guided to sleep on my left side, which was safe and beneficial both for my baby and my body. To soothe down my heartburn, I was told to avoid spicy and acidic food during nights, have smaller meals and have dinner at least two hours before bedtime. Also, I was told to prop up my head with a couple of pillows to lower down the heartburn, especially during nights. In addition to this, my husband helped me throughout the phase of sleepless nights during my pregnancy. He prioritized my sleep, as he knew it was the healthiest and best things he can do for me and my health. He made me do exercises, which were helpful during pregnancy and made me relax, both physically and mentally. He did not let me eat at bedtime, as I would start eating at any point of the day. He used to take me out for a walk without any fail.
Sleep deprivation is a reality check for new parents. We soon become zombies because of the sleeplessness. Motherhood is totally different from what we have in mind and is not that easy as it seems to be. Although , the birth of our new born is a joyous occasion, most of the parents get exhausted because of those sleepless first weeks and months, as new born require constant care and attention, they need to be fed every hour or two, have their nappies / diapers changed very often, etc. We do wish to dedicate our time to our baby’s needs, but we have needs too, especially sleep. If we are sleep deprived, we can hardly pay back in order to take care of our baby and our health can suffer a lot because of this. Sometimes I wonder if we fall sick or suffer from any health issue because of sleep deficit, who will take care of our baby the way we do. However , our sleeplessness eases once our baby begins to sleep throughout the night. Weird it may sound, but we do miss the quiet time with our baby, during the night, once he/she begins sleeping through the night.
In my scenario, since my son was bottle-fed, my husband helped me with the feedings and shared the burden of sleep loss. We shared the feeding sessions on alternate basis. In this way, he got to spend some quality quiet time with our son. We also tried to build up a routine for him by letting light in the room in the morning and dimming the lights in the evening. I do believe it helped us as our son started sleeping through the night when he was 2 months old. Now he is 6 months old and sleeps for the whole night. Although, his night sleep begins after 12 midnight, but he then sleeps throughout the night and gets up in the morning, usually after 9 am. For those two months, I tried to reduce my sleep debt by napping, which I believe is a great stress reducer. Because of napping, I used to fall asleep quickly and my sleep was sound too. I made sure that I lie down as soon as my baby sleeps, and never caught on any of the house chores or used my phone during that time. My husband, and sometimes my mother-in law used to watch the baby while I took a nap. Since my son was bottle-fed, I kept all the requirements next to my bed on the side table (feeding bottles in the sterilizer, formula milk, warm water in a kettle) to save my time and energy. I used to lie down even if I was unable to sleep and trust me , it did wonders as it was very refreshing.
Sleep is essential to health. Lack of sleep may lead to various health hazards. We need an adequate amount of sleep to avoid any complications. Sleep deficit becomes a struggle if we are pregnant or a new mother, as sleeps helps our body to recover in all aspects –
physically, emotionally and mentally. Sleep deprivation leaves us irritated and physically weak. There is nothing we can do to replace sleep. The only real solution to sleep deprivation is sleeping. Humorous it may sound, but it is true.
Never forget, sleep deprivation is a temporary phase after all and will soon pass.
About Komal Gupta
From a working woman to a full-time mother, I am loving and living every phase of this new life. Leaving job was my decision as I wanted to be with my child during the early stages of his life. I wanted to witness his every action, from first cry to first word. I am happily employed as a full-time mother, whose remunerations are my child's hugs, kisses and laugh.
This is personal experience and point of view of Mrs Komal Gupta as a mother. Happy Motherhood does not take responsibility for the contents and those not necessarily represent point of view of Happy Motherhood.