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How to Beat Post-Natal Insomnia

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An OB/GYN gives us pointers on catching more Zs.

woman lying in bed awake

The London Sunday Times recently ran a great article about post-natal insomnia. The latest research has shown that new mothers typically spend 20% more time awake during the first six weeks after childbirth than is the average. In addition, post­partum women wake more frequently and have less dream sleep than non-postpartum women. The article said that the sleep problems continue for many women even after the baby starts sleeping through the night.

We asked OB/GYN Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz to review the article and weigh in. "This is a really great article which sheds light on a heretofore poorly understood and unexamined area of the stressors of the postpartum period," she says. "Sleep deprivation is often hinted at or joked about as one of those things new parents just have to survive -- but lack of sleep can lead to many other problems such as anxiety and depression, metabolic disruptions, and lasting changes in habits. The postpartum time is such an important time that our Western culture just does not support or value enough. Women, by pushing to look great (i.e., the same as a woman without a baby!) and 'return to normal' ASAP buy into that culture. The realities of attending to a new baby are tremendous, but remedies such as sleeping when the baby does, getting good nutrition, and even receiving regular massage and body work can significantly improve sleep and mood. Family and community support are crucial to surviving and thriving during this time -- when our basic needs, such as sleep, are attended to, we are better moms and better people."

Did you experience post-natal insomnia? Share your story below.

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9 comments so far | Post a comment now
tennmom October 26, 2009, 7:53 PM

I think a large problem for me was I was so afraid I wouldn’t hear my babies cry soon enough, even with the monitor turned all the way up, that I became hyper-sensitive to all other sounds. The ceiling fan squeeking, cars driving by, a neighbor’s dog barking,all would wake me up or keep me awake. My late-husband’s snoring was the worst.
He would get so angry, point out that I “used to be able to sleep through his snoring.” Yeah, before I gave birth.
When my girls would wake every hour or so to nurse, I was afraid I’d fall asleep while feeding them. It was hard to fall asleep again after trying so hard to remain alert. Same happened in the mornings. By the time they were ready for morning nap, I was finally awake & couldn’t nap when they napped.

jennifer October 27, 2009, 1:21 PM

i had terrible insomnia after the birth of both of my children- it as anxiety and the hormones

Overcome insomnia March 20, 2010, 11:13 AM

I used to be sufferer as well, it was awful.

abbie May 9, 2010, 11:28 AM

I am suffering badly from this 2 mnths after her birth she is now 5 nths old . I’m hooked to sleeping tablets fr the past 3 months.I just can’t nap in the afternoon with the baby and can’t sleep now without them. Plus my husband snores so bad he is now in the spare room with the baby but I still can’t sleep well :( if anyone reads this and going through the same thing and would like to email me please feel free

Kids Insomnia August 16, 2010, 10:06 PM
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