Spring Letter 2012
Dear New Parents,
Just recently, one of my labor patients was progressing rapidly toward delivery, but instead of being excited about the impending birth of her baby, she kept saying she was tired and all she wanted to do was sleep. I wasn’t quite sure how to break the news to her, but sleep wasn’t an option at the moment. And the kind of sleep where you shut the door, pull down the shades and sleep for nine or 10 hours straight was likely out of the question for the next 18 years.
It’s been nine years since I went through labor, but my patient triggered personal memories of the sleep deprivation I encountered soon after my son was born. The pregnancy itself, then labor, delivery, around-the-clock feedings, lack of help and returning to work nearly knocked me to my knees.
In the beginning, newborns do most of the sleeping – though it may come in bits and spurts. While some infants sleep through the night as early as six weeks, most don’t find a rhythm until they are three or four months of age. Some babies take even longer. My son took his own sweet time settling in.
My best advice for the bleary-eyed and bone-weary is to accept help if it is offered – and ask for it if it is not. Spouses, partners, family members or friends can – and should – be there if you are feeling overtired and overwhelmed. Often all it takes is someone to talk to or help with routine chores around the house.
Understand that most new parents experience feelings of exhaustion and being overwhelmed. You definitely are not alone. Looking back, I should have spoken up and asked for help.
Sometimes the weight of new emotions and responsibilities – along with hormonal imbalances – can lead to the more serious condition of postpartum depression. There are safe and effective short-term medications that can help. Do not hesitate to reach out to your obstetrician, pediatrician, nurse or health professional with questions about how you and your newborn are adjusting.
I wish you a wonderful journey. Get the rest and the help you need to enjoy this time with your baby. It might be tough to imagine now, but it won’t be long before you turn around and have a nine-year-old. It happens in the blink of an eye.
Linda Ciampa, RN