Everyone expects new mothers to be sleep deprived. It's almost a routine 'part of the job'.
However, this sleep disturbance comes with a cost - to both the mother and the infant.
Evidence suggests that sleep deprivation can lead to depression, so it makes sense that this should be of particular concern to new mothers since the most common complication of childbirth is postpartum major depression (PPD).
Even though sleep disturbance plays a role in the development of PPD, it is still seen as a normal part of being a new mother. This needs to change.
A recent study involved 12 new mothers who were suffering from comorbid PPB and insomnia.
All underwent 5 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia along with additional components that taught the new mothers techniques to help their babies fall asleep and strategies to get more involvement and support from their partners.
By the end of the therapy, significant improvements were seen in sleep duration and sleep efficiency, as well as primary measures of depressive symptoms.
Additional benefits included reduced levels of insomnia severity and reduced levels of fatigue.
This study proves that disturbed sleep in new mothers doesn't have to be a fact of life, and that addressing sleep issues could lower risk for depressive symptoms such as PPD.
You can learn more about cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) by enrolling in my free sleep training course.
Source: Behavioral Sleep Medicine
Last updated: June 10, 2014