Postpartum Depression and Sleep: Important News

Suzanne Murray
postpartum depression causes help new baby no sleep

Photo from Better World Books

After I had my baby I didn't sleep at all. I was breastfeeding her every two hours round the clock, and each feeding took an hour so there was only an hour in between. I couldn't sleep then because I was anticipating her next cry.

Two months later, I seriously thought I was losing my mind. But then my sister made me go into my room to rest and she didn't wake me when the baby cried. I finally got some sleep and I almost felt like a normal person again.

I was amazed at how a lack of sleep had pushed me thisclose to the edge. So I wasn't surprised to hear the results of a study published in the latest issue of the journal Sleep: Poor sleep after childbirth appears to increase the risk of postpartum depression.

"Postpartum women sleep less during the early weeks following delivery than during pregnancy and other periods of reproductive age," Dr. Signe Karen Dorheim, of Stavanger University Hospital, and colleagues write in their report. "At the same time, these women have an increased risk of depression."

The researchers studied 2,830 women who said that they slept an average of 6 1/2 hours per night. After adjusting the data for other significant depression risk factors (things like previous sleep problems or being a first-time mom), poor sleep was still associated with depression.

Dr. Dorheim said that some women who suffer from postpartum depression could be helped by treating their sleep problems.

She also says that if a mom is depressed or complains being really tired during daytime hours, their significant other should help out with the baby during the night, to give her a night of "recovery" sleep.

Did you suffer from postpartum depression? Do you think lack of sleep could have been a factor?

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