In this blog post today I will be talking about the impact sleep deprivation can have on a new family and how this can affect mental health and your return to work.
I have some top tips on how to make these transitions easier for you and some links to excellent support sources that you may find helpful
When you are expecting your baby we are often filled with emotions of sheer joy and excitement followed by a wow...ok…this is going to be life changing, a little scary but awesome life changing! The months of pregnancy pass by and boom, a little bundle of love is born and this new world of parenting has arrived.
We leave hospital with a tiny newborn baby and no clue what to do next or what to even REALLY expect. The sleep deprivation starts to creep up on us and we just think it is normal and part of being a parent which it is, however, many of us are too scared, proud or don’t think we need help, but often we do need a little help and guidance and it is ok to seek help and accept it when we need it. The early weeks pass by in a daze of love, confusion, wonder and pure exhaustion. No exhaustion is ever like the one of a new parent. It effect all parts of us, mentally, physically and emotionally. It can hit us hard and not just mothers but partners also. Being sleep deprived comes with the job description – parenthood – but we must try to talk about it to our partners, family and support system. Here are a few of top tips that may help with our expectations before the arrival of your baby…
Agree with your partner when you would like to introduce the baby to your family and friends. You may not feel like seeing anyone for a couple of weeks but your partner is excited and may invite the whole family over and this can be daunting.
Have as many prepared meals in the freezer your freezer can hold! You will not feel like cooking much nor have the time.
If anyone asks how they can help, ask for prepared meals, an online food shop or bank that babysitter offer for later on when you need to have some “me” time or visit the hairdresser!
Have a little black book of all relevant professional phone numbers to hand such as lactation consultants, your local health visitors, GP, sleep consultants, children centers and your family numbers, just in case your husband can’t find his phone with the numbers in it…!
I did not have any family around me in London when my first Leo was born, I just had my close friends and none of them had babies yet. It was tough for me, however, I soon made new mummy friends, strong friendships, but it takes time. Sleep deprivation inched its way into every part of my day to day life and it affected my relationship and my ability on being a mum. I found I was not alone, I talked to other mums and found that we were going through the same experiences and when I went to my local children’s centers and playgroups I found other parents and professionals were explaining to me what I was going through was very common and normal and this helped immensely.
Severe sleep deprivation is one of the common causes that can lead to Post Natal Depression. (PND)
Did you know Post Natal Depression affects 1 in 10 women after birth?
It can also affect fathers and partners, not just the birth mother.
It is extremely important to be as open and honest as you can with each other as you navigate your way through the journey of parenthood and especially in the first few months.
RETURNING TO WORK
These early parenting months go so fast and suddenly you will find it is time to return to work. It is a daunting prospect when you have had a baby. It can cause immense stress and anxiety on our personal selves and in our relationship with our partners.
I recently worked very closely with a family who had a little girl who did not sleep well at night and during the day routine was a off schedule which effected naps and mum found she had no time for the daily chores let alone time for herself, and as the imminent date for returning to work was getting closer she started to feel anxious about it and wondered how she was going to cope being so tired, still having to get up and rock her baby back to sleep multiple times a night. After working with me for 2 weeks to achieve her family sleep goals, she was well rested and ready for starting work.
We as parents spend the best part of a year being all consumed by this tiny little human we have bought into the world and loved and expect it to be a wondrous time and for many of us parenting is hard, very hard.
It’s normal to feel anxious, sad and nervous about returning to work after maternity leave. Some mums feel slightly excited about the prospect of work, being able to have a conversation with an adult that does not involve nappies and how much sleep they got last night.
If this is you, this is absolutely normal and great. It is part of what makes you and you will see when you come home you are happier and a better mum for it. I know myself I love my job with such passion, I get to be me and then when it is time to pick up the children from school I have had my adult time, a space for my brain to thrive and I can focus better on my children.
So if you are wondering how to make this transition back into work be as smooth as possible, here are some of my top tips.
Keeping in touch days. Your work will offer days where you can pop in to effectively keep in touch. Keep in the loop of what is going on, what has changed, what may be changing and it will help you get back in the saddle when the time comes.
Keep your employer informed of your thoughts on returning to work. You may only want to return part time so keep this conversation open and ask to explore the options
If you are wanting to pump breast milk at work discuss this with your employer and ensure you have a calming space and time available to you to do so.
Think and discuss with your partner what you want to do and how you can make it happen.
Explore different options of childcare that will work for you. Perhaps there is a nursery at your office or you know someone who is looking for a nanny share. There are many options out there. Build trust with them, visit them as often as you feel you want to before making the final decision.
Settle your child into the new childcare a good 3-6 weeks before you start work
Take each day at a time and DON’T PUT PRESSURE on yourself to do anything you are not ready or 100% comfortable with.
Be positive about this new life you have! It’s an exploration every day, a million decisions to be made every day and a giant learning curve.
If you are feeling anxious about returning to work and would like to talk to someone about it please speak to your GP alternatively here are some excellent accredited support bodies that can help.
“MarvellousMammas believes strongly in support around mental health and wellbeing for parents at all stages of the journey. For some this support is important whilst they prepare to conceive, others during the pregnancy, and for others once the baby arrives”
The South West London Counselling Service
“The South West London Postnatal Counselling Service provides counselling and psychotherapy to parents, from pregnancy through to all stages of parenthood. We support parents with children of all ages and stages”.
Equally if you are looking of help with your child’s sleep please don’t hesitates to get in touch. I offer a free 15 minute discovery call to find out more how I can help you and what I do.
Don’t forget to share this blog with a friend, they may just find some nugget of help in here also!
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant