Infant’s Sleep Patterns May Affect PPD

One of the most common issues of parenting a newborn is getting enough sleep.
As we all have experienced — even without the rigors of caring for a baby — a poor night’s sleep can adversely affect our mood.

Combine lack of sleep with the understandable insecurity that accompanies the postpartum period of parenthood, and you’ll understand why the issue of “how do I get my baby to sleep through the night” is so often a refrain in my postpartum de-pression (PPD) therapy sessions.

In addition to the stress on the mom, a baby’s wailing and the nightly interruptions, also put a strain on a couple’s relationship. So it’s no wonder that whenever I spot a study on the topic, I hone in to learn if there’s anything fresh that can help new moms, and their partners, better navigate this difficult slice of new parenthood.

In “New Data On Infant Sleep You’ll Want To Know” by Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE, we’re reminded of two schools of thought on the subject:

1. Controlled comforting: when the parent lets their babies “cry it out” for longer and longer stretches of time. The parent still returns to the babies for comforting, but give their babies a chance to learn to self-soothe for periods of time.

2. Camping out: a technique where parents sit or lie with their babies and children until they fall asleep and gradually extract themselves from their children’s sleep space.

Dr. Swanson said the study, which involved these two methods, “followed up on in-fants and moms who had reported challenges with sleep at 7 months of age. The re-searchers initially (5 years prior) had randomized babies and their moms into groups — one group got no advice about sleep while the another group learned about the two sleep training methods from nurses at 3 visits.”

Not surprisingly, the study concluded, “parents who learned the two techniques found their babies slept better at 10 months of age compared with the parents who didn’t learn the techniques.” And the good news for therapists like myself is that “mothers who used sleep training had significantly less depression.”

Now, the even better news: when the researchers followed up on the infants after they had reached their 6-year birthday — evaluating “the children’s sleep, their levels of stress hormones, their mom’s anxiety and depression, and the bonding be-tween children and their moms” — they learned that “it didn’t matter if you let your baby cry it out, if you camped out, or if you did none of the above. Neither setting seemed to affect mom’s mood, the degree of bonding, or the levels of stress children experienced when they were entering the school years.”

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~ by ppdsus on June 5, 2014.

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