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Postpartum Depression Alters the Baby’s Sleep

Por Carola Sixto, Editor DrTango, Inc. -

The baby was born beautiful and healthy, and everything is fine. However, some mothers feel depressed after birth, and don’t feel like doing anything. They realize there is no reason to feel this way, but find it hard to stay motivated.

Postpartum depression affects 15% of women and is caused by hormonal changes. In pregnancy, levels of estrogen (known as the “female hormone”) and progesterone increase significantly. But after 24 hours of birth, hormones return to normal. The thyroid gland, which is in charge of regulating metabolism and body sensibility to other hormones, also reduces its activity.

These changes can make women feel tired after giving birth, annoyed by having little sleep, overwhelmed by demand from the baby, uncertain whether she’ll be a good mother, stressed by the new routines, unattractive, and with no free time.

Sweet Dreams
While there is evidence that postpartum depression affects 15 of every 100 women, recent research conducted by the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan and published in “Sleep” alerts on the importance of not neglecting this depression.

According to experts, “babies born from mothers with depression are more prone to disorganized sleep patterns, which could predispose them to suffer from depression later in life.”
Dr. Roseanne Armitage, sleep disorder specialist and author of the study, found that sleep disturbances persist at least until the baby is eight months old.

In fact, insomnia and sleep problems are closely related to depression. Therefore, Dr. Roseanne Armitage and Professor Sheila Marcus, author of the study, suggest paying special attention to these conditions.

Babies need to nap during the day to rest. This means between 11 and 18 hours for newborns and up to two months. At 10 months of age, nap time is reduced to 11-15 hours; while kids between 1 and 3 years old rest about 12 to 14 hours. 

In addition to discovering the consequences of maternal depression on the baby, like triggering sleep disorders, researchers emphasized the relation between lack of sleep with maternal depression.
“Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of depression in anyone, at all stages of life, but in mothers who have just had a baby, sleep deprivation can really become a problem, because of hormonal changes and the need to recover from pregnancy and childbirth,” said Dr. Armitage.

Without doubt, lack of sleep can interfere with social life and minimize the amount of energy to take care of the child, thus contributing to the development of depression.

Source: Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan.


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