10 Tips to Improve Sleep for New Moms

Sleep deprivation and motherhood don’t have to go hand-in-hand.

From the WebMD Archives

Oh baby! Motherhood is a little different from what you had in mind. Of course, you love your baby more than you could have ever imagined. But you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks -- maybe months. And this sleep deprivation isn’t likely to let up anytime soon!

It’s not easy caring for your baby -- not to mention the rest of your family -- when you are sleep deprived. It’s also dangerous. Drowsy driving, such as driving your infant to the pediatrician when you have had little or no sleep, is responsible for an estimated 100,000 crashes each year, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And sleep loss can also increase a new mom’s risk of postpartum mood problems.

So what can you do about it? A lot, experts tell WebMD. Follow these 10 expert tips for improving your sleep while bringing up baby.

1. Talk about your sleep needs.

Do it early, before you bring baby home. “Once you become pregnant, discuss your ability to handle sleep deprivation with your partner,” says Margaret Park, MD, an assistant sleep specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Her experience is both personal and professional: She’s the mother of a 3-month-old and a 2 1/2-year-old. You may want to think about saving now so you can get help such as night nurse or babysitter.

2. Use the hospital nursery.

It’s there for a reason -- do not feel guilty. “This is your time to recuperate from birth,” Park says. “Let a trained professional take care of your baby for the night or two that you are in the hospital.”

3. Just say no to added responsibility.

If you feel guilty about spending less time with your oldest child, you may want to volunteer to go on a trip with his class or take him for a special excursion to the museum. Think twice. “Do not take on any extra responsibilities when you have a newborn at home,” advises Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD, clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.