How To Handle Postnatal Insomnia

By Subodh / March 13, 2015

The birth of an infant can fill the mother with myriads of feeling-including those of joy and contentment like never before. However, with motherhood your body also goes through a number of major and unprecedented changes. The hormonal changes caused by pregnancy and childbirth can affect your well being and mental state to an extent. The body and mind need some time to revert to their usual schedules and you need to be patient with that. What many women experience after childbirth are sleeping problems and insomnia.

Postnatal Insomnia

What causes insomnia post childbirth?

In simple words, postnatal insomnia means the sleeping problems faced by a new mother. The duration can vary and in some cases, women can suffer from it after a few months of childbirth.

It can be caused by the following factors:

  • Major hormonal changes and resultant secretions taking place in the body.
  • The other postnatal developments like depression and hot flashes.
  • Irregularity in usual sleeping patterns caused by the needs to feed and care for the infant.

Major effects of Postnatal Insomnia

While postnatal insomnia is not exactly severe and it does not lead to long term health risks, it can be pretty annoying for the women. Unless it is dealt with properly, the affected women may face delay in resuming normal life. The main effects are:

  • It can lead to weight gain or cause delay in losing the weight gained during pregnancy.
  • It can lead to depression.
  • It can also affect the mental health of the woman. Chronic insomnia can make her irritable.
  • As expected, lack of sleep can also result in the mother being unable to care for the baby as desired.

[ Read: How Yoga Can Help Relieve Depression ]

How to deal with Postnatal Insomnia

Below listed are a handful of tips that can help you deal effectively with postnatal insomnia:

  • Making small alterations in sleeping patterns– While it is neither practical nor possible for a mother to stay awake all night and sleep through day to cope with sleeplessness, bringing small changes in sleeping schedule may help. You may sleep earlier than usual at night, for example.
  • Adapting the sleeping pattern to baby– A lot of mothers cannot sleep properly because their sleeping patterns are drastically opposite to that of the baby. You may adapt the sleeping schedule closer to the baby to cope with this issue.
  • Trying meditation and yoga– Meditation helps people to focus their mind and deal with stress. The same is true about yoga. It can benefit all types of people, including new mothers. The effects of yoga and meditation will also help you battle negative feelings like depression which actually lead to sleeplessness.
  • Avoiding stimulants before sleeping– At times, you may find it hard to sleep at night after childbirth because you take foods that act as stimulants. Avoid taking foods containing caffeine for example.
  • Catch naps at daytime-If you find sleeping at night rather tedious despite trying every possible remedy and feel drowsy throughout the day after childbirth, there is a way out. You can take a nap in the day at a convenient time. This will help your body recover from the effects of insomnia to an extent. For example, if the baby dozes off after having the meal at afternoon, it is the right time for you to take a short nap. Ask a family member to attend to the baby for that time.
  • Professional assistance– If you find that you are not able to sleep despite trying every measure after childbirth, medical intervention may help. You may talk with a qualified doctor who can help you in this regard.