Giving birth is hard work. You are literally pushing another human into the world. I was in active, hard labor for 9 hours with my son, and 5 hours with my daughter. In the the end it’s worth it, since you get to meet your own tiny human.
Even though I was exhausted I found myself unable to rest. My body was tired, but my mind was racing. I had great difficulty falling asleep. No naps, no night time sleep. Some days, thoughts of bad things happening to my infant while I slept kept me from falling asleep, other days my mind would be blank and ready for sleep, but it just wouldn’t come.kim
Postpartum insomnia is a relatively common occurence, effecting around 15% of new mothers. It can appear with postpartum depression or without. Caused my fluctuating hormones and (ironically) frequent night wakings, postpartum insomnia is brutal. Even though you got no sleep, you still have a little baby to take care of which is exhausting in of itself.
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Essential oils are a great tool to help you relax and get some sleep. Inhaling about 10 minutes before you lie down can do wonders for the body. Plant Therapy, Organic Aromas, and Mountain Rose all carry oils that I absolutely love.
- Lavender (some may find lavender may increase their energy, so listen to your body
- Ylang Ylang
- Melissa (use caution if pregnant)
- Roman Chamomile
My current favorite for sleep is a blend of equal parts Melissa oil and Lavender.
Essential oils can have unpredictable effects on the developing nervous systems of newborns, so I recommend using a personal inhaler like these on Amazon until baby is at least 6 months old. It easily fits on the nightstand, in your pocket, purse or baby bag so it’s easily portable. Alternatively, you can use hydrosols, as they are safe for baby and can be used to make a linen spray or rub.
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Yoga can be a great way to relax both the body and mind. Taking care of a newborn is stressful, so much so, that a lot of parents hold on to the stress making it dificult to relax. Doing some light yoga before bed can help ease the body into a state of relaxation. Make sure not to push your body too hard.
Humans have been sleeping with their babies for millions of years. We’re biologically programmed to have our young near us. Early humans lives literraly depended on sleeping near the safety of our parents to protect them from predators. Even though the threat of predators is no longer present for most modern humans, the instincts are still there. If you find yourself unable to sleep at night, try bringing baby into the same room as you, or even bedsharing with baby. Hobo Mama has a great tutorial on bedsharing safely, or if the thought of baby in your bed terrified you, the Dockatot makes a great cosleeper.
Before my second was born, we slept in the dark. Like dark, dark. We would close all the doors, had blackout blinds and curtains and turned all electronics off. It was great. We got great sleep, even the toddler, who wouldn’t be bothered by daylight savings time, or early morning sun. However, not being able to easily see my sleeping newborn breathing at night caused me some serious anxiety.
Adding a nightlight really helped ease my anxiety. Our room is still fairly dark, but I can easily see her face and chest. Getting a red toned nightline is the best choice or restoritive sleep as it does not disrupt serotonin production. We have this Himalayan Salt Nightlight and it works perfectly for us.
There are a number of baby monitors on the market that track baby’s vital signs such as breathing and heart rate. If the monitor detects a baby is in distress, they will alert the parents with an alarm. Many parents have reported false alarms that wakes them and their babies up in the middle of the night. It’s important to note, that studies have found no evidence that these types of devices have decreased infant mortality.
Despite these drawbacks, some parents may find a device like this gives them peace of mind, particularly if they have suffered the loss of a sibling.
Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherries contain melatonin, the hormone responsible for causing sleepiness. Some researchers have found that two servings of tart cherry juice a day can increase sleep by up to 90 minutes. Try placing some in your morning breakfast such as yogurt or oatmeal, and having some about an hour before bed. We use Dynamic Organic Cherry Juice Concentrate, but tart cherry juice can also be found in most health food stores.
Sleeping when the baby sleeps is terrific advice, if you can do so. Postpartum insomnia complicates this by making it difficult to fall and stay asleep. For me, the insomnia finally passed around the 2 week mark, but many women find it can take months to pass. If you continue to have poor sleep quality and sadness, or are thinking about hurting yourself or your baby, please talk to your doctor, as you may have postpartum depression, a treatable disorder common after childbirth.
Always consult your doctor before taking any medication, as some may not be compatible with breastfeeding or bedsharing.
This article contains affiliate links, meaning I will receive a small commission if you purchase something at no additional cost to you. All opinions remain my own. For more information, see my full disclosure policy.