How To Have A Good Sleep Postpartum
Becoming a mama changes everything. We enter into a world where we are now fully responsible for a tiny human. In order to take care of our little one(s), we must take care of ourselves too. Getting good sleep is vital during postpartum when our baby’s ever changing needs can compromise our sleep cycle.
Postpartum depression, anxiety, and depletion can all be traced back to sleep deprivation. From my own personal experience as a mama of two under two, I’d like to share some tools I’ve learned along the way to help you prioritize sleep during the postpartum stage.
I was told by my midwives to rest and allow my body to heal... but I didn’t listen. I was the mama that used up all my energy in maintaining the home-cleaning, cooking, organizing, mail etc. I did anything other than sleep when the baby was sleeping. This caused me to develop postpartum anxiety. I wanted everything to stay as perfect as I had it before my baby arrived. I realized I was holding myself accountable to an unfeasible form of perfection.
It finally came to a point where I found myself extremely exhausted and realized I had to simply relax and focus on what was most important: my baby’s and my sleep. That was all I needed to get back to feeling better.
I hope that by sharing this article, mamas like you can embrace postpartum with grace and without the struggles I went through.
Here are 4 ways to help mamas sleep better:
- During the first few months of postpartum, you are taking on a whole different world.
- Make some time to take notes about your sleep.
- What time are you heading to bed?
- What time are you waking up?
- How many feedings are you doing during nighttime?
- Are you finding trouble falling back asleep when your baby wakes you up?
Remember this is only just to get an idea of where you stand with sleep so no need to obsess over exactness. When you begin observing your sleep, you can start establishing a rhythm.
The fourth trimester (0-3 months postpartum) is when the baby is sleeping the most. This time is designed for mama to heal and rest with her baby. Take advantage of this time to rest as much as possible. Especially when the baby is sleeping. If you are feeling restless, listen to our rest mama, rest meditation. It will help you slow down and release body tension.
We feel more energized, relaxed, happy, and most of all peaceful when our sleep is optimized. We show up in our baby’s world with love and understanding. Stay away from too much stimulus and learn to rely on meditations and baths, which can help you stay in the path of connection and relaxation.
2. Choosing Activities to Promote Sleep
Our first priority after our baby goes down should be winding down.This is where surrender comes in. Listen to your body. Remember that postpartum is temporary and it’s important to focus on YOU by bringing your mind, body, and spirit back into balance after birth. Your household and other projects will eventually return back to normal.
Think about what blue lights you use after dark. Phone, tv, computer?
Ideally, you don’t want to use devices 2 hours prior to bedtime. It’s such a good practice to implement by allowing yourself to disconnect and decompress from the day. The less blue light, the better. If possible, limit use throughout the day.
This is your opportunity to practice self care during postpartum.
- Familiarize yourself with a gentle evening yoga flow. You can find some options on Youtube or sign up to one of our postpartum courses.
- Make night tea. My favorite is hibiscus or rose, with chamomile.
- Write about your day, maybe something about your baby. (Make a keepsake journal).
- Draw or paint.
- Read a good book you are interested in. There are amber lights you can buy so your eyes aren’t affected by artificial lighting.
- Give yourself a pedicure.
- Take a bath.
- Massage your skin with an oil of your choice. I love almond or sesame.
- Spend time with your partner.
- Lie down and take deep breaths visualizing your body relaxing and at ease or listen to our meditation rest mama, rest.
- Create an environment where sleep is encouraged - cool air, shades over windows, and / or white noise.
Once you start enriching your evenings with self love your body will naturally transition more easily into sleep.
3. Understanding How Sleep Works
The most important hours of sleep to regenerate the mind and rejuvenate the body are 10pm-2am. This is when the body cycles into deep sleep.
During postpartum, deep sleep is needed for mama’s body to recover. Only deep sleep can reset the neurotransmitters that are responsible for communication to the brain and body. The neurotransmitters repair our entire system from all of the oxidative stress we experience on a daily basis. Deep sleep is also needed for our pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is responsible for regulating hormonal balance. After birth, there is a significant change in hormones. Deep sleep helps to balance mama’s hormones too.
Deep sleep is especially beneficial during the fourth trimester (and beyond) in order for you to recover from the physical work and exhaustion of birth.
When the body isn’t able to find deep sleep between these hours on a regular basis, fatigue can set in leaving mama feeling depleted. When you are fully rested, your energy levels are higher and you’ll be more attuned to your baby. I have found that when I’m overtired I tend to have a more fussy baby. When I am rested I am able to observe baby’s needs quicker and find more joy in our days.
4. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help
We are made to feel that this is our work, and more often than not, our work alone. Mamas are true superheroes, but we need support. I encourage you to build a mama village of support: A web of loved ones who are checking in on you during your postpartum. This will ensure that your needs are being met.
Support can look like asking your partner to help with night feedings to give you a break. Another way to be supported is to ask for help around the house. Ask grandma to step in to cook or clean. Ask a friend to come and watch the baby so you can take a nap yourself if you feel you weren’t able to get enough the night before. A registry gift you can ask for is a postpartum doula. They are trained and understand what mama needs. I had the pleasure of a postpartum doula for just a week and it made a big difference.
Asking for help shouldn’t be associated with weakness but strength. Mamas used to raise babies in tribes and the quote “it takes a village” is very true. Call upon your dearest people and express your needs. Nobody knows what you are going through unless you speak up. You’ll be grateful you did. The more you allow help to come in, the more grace you can give yourself in this new phase.
As you navigate this new chapter, call upon these tools to help ease your postpartum.
- Create a sleep rhythm
- Engage in sleep promoting activities
- Sleep during the hours of 10pm-2am
- Ask for help (hubby, relatives, friends, postpartum doulas, etc)
Creating a good postpartum sleep rhythm doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice and commitment. Honor yourself and your baby in this precious stage together.
Here is a meditation video to help you get the rest you need
Becoming a mama takes resilience. It takes failure. It takes heart. Remember that postpartum is dynamic.
These guidelines can be used to help you center back into your groove when things go up and down. The sleep game is sometimes a rollercoaster, and if you are struggling with sleep, you are not alone. This article is a reminder to remember yourself and your needs. Trust what your intuition says. Love your sleep.
Babies grow fast. Embrace these precious days. Move with grace and love. Let the challenges move through by not holding onto them. You’ll miss their middle-of-the-night snuggles once they are all grown up.
Find love right where you are.
You’ve got this, mama.
Written by: Alexis Marie
Edited by: Lily Zara