Did you know?? The international human rights framework recognizes sleep deprivation as a method of torture because it attacks a person's deep biological functions of mental and physical health.
One review observed that "sleep restriction of four hours per night for less than a week can result in physical harm".
Sleep deprivation studies have found a tie with a "greater overall risk of death" and a lower quality of life.
Sleep is absolutely essential and we have to stop accepting this lack of sleep for new parents as a normal part of having a baby.
The more I learn about sleep, the more amazed I am that as a society, we are not doing more to support healthy sleep hygiene for new parents and babies.
New parents are not immune to the effects of sleep deprivation. Early signs are:
Is it any wonder that new parents experience postpartum depression other mood disorders? How are we supposed to learn how to care for our new tiny humans when we are suffering the effects of sleep deprivation??? How are we supposed to heal from childbirth??
While it's normal for a very young infant to wake frequently to eat, new parents should not have to be chronically sleep deprived in order to care for them.
Healthy newborn humans need to eat approximately every 2-3 hours, OR 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period. Some babies will naturally go one long stretch a day of 4-6 hours. By 8 weeks of age, they may take 4-5 ounces and eat every 3-4 hours. Sometime between 8-10 weeks, your baby begins to develop a circadian rhythm and should start shifting to a more nocturnal pattern of sleep. Even though they are waking at night to eat, they should remain very sleepy and calm, and stay that way until daylight. There are lots of ways to support nocturnal sleep by focusing
Our job is to help you understand and practice healthy sleep hygiene and gentle sleep conditioning. Your baby doesn't have to 'cry it out' to sleep through the night.
6 weeks is the accepted maternity leave in the United States. Going back to work when you are already at a deficit and your baby isn't sleeping through the night just accelerates the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation.
The repercussions are significant and serious. Sleep support for new parents needs to become a priority. It truly is an investment in your health and your child's health.
Babies needs for sleep change very quickly in the first year of life. Even though they start off waking frequently, they also need quality sleep. Studies show that babies who sleep better have a positive association with memory, language, executive function and overall cognitive development.
Hiring a night nanny, newborn nurse, or postpartum doula can help alleviate and even prevent a host of healthcare issues for the entire family.
Abbey is a birth and postpartum doula and placenta specialist in Dallas/Fort Worth and a mom to 4 children between the ages of 25 and 12.