Coping with Fatigue

Taking care of your new baby is overwhelming at times as you adjust to the 24-hour responsibility. You may not be sleeping more than a few hours at a stretch in the early days; this can make even small tasks and worries loom large. As your baby matures and you learn your new role as his parent, everything that seems so hard now will become easier. Really!

Try to get as much sleep as possible. Recent studies have shown that, while most women suffer some short-term moodiness or mild depression after childbirth, women who are very tired at 2 weeks after child birth are more likely to have postpartum depression than women who are less tired.

A good way to ensure that you’re getting enough sleep is to figure how much sleep you typically need in a 24-hour period, say 7–9 hours. Sleeping when the baby sleeps, even if it is at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., or 6 p.m. for an hour or two, will help you accumulate the sleep you need in a 24-hour period. Soon your baby will be able to sleep for longer stretches, and so will you.

You can reduce your exhaustion by helping your baby know day from night. Play with your baby—smiling and talking to him—during daylight hours. At night, feed him without turning on the lights, comfort him without stimulating him, and tuck him back into his bed to coax him back to quiet sleep. (Remember, babies are safest when put to sleep on their backs rather than on their tummies.)

While breastfeeding is the easiest way to comfort your baby, sometimes your partner or a helper can give you a break by holding, rocking and walking the baby, allowing you to catch a few zzzz’s.

See also ...

•  Stages of newborn sleep (knowing these might help you get a few more winks)

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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