Help for sleep-deprived moms

June 8, 2008 5:34:08 AM PDT
There's joy at the arrival of a new child, but all too soon, exhaustion sets in.

When little Sam Walters wakes up, his new mom Alyssa springs into action. "Shhh, shhh, shhh," she says, comforting him.

But for this energetic mother, taking care of two kids now is catching up with her.

Alyssa says, "I think I'm about getting to the point at 7 and a half weeks now, where, I'm getting a little exhausted."

Sleep deprivation affects every aspect of a new mom's life.

Jodi Mindell, Ph.D. , a sleep specialist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, says, "So how they feel the next day, how well they're getting along with their partner, if they have a partner, how well they parent and other things like health, right. We know there's many more accidental injuries."

Dr. Mindell focuses on new moms and their babies. Her number one recommendation is: get some help.

"Even if you're a nursing mom, and I encourage nursing in all moms, is that you can have other people help you. Make sure you nap during the day. Don't worry about the clean house. Don't worry about the gourmet meals," says Dr. Mindell.

And she says don't let sleeping babies lie.

"Before you go to bed, wake the baby up for a feeding. If you're a nursing mom, what works wonderfully is go to bed when the baby goes to bed, have pumped and have someone else give the pumped milk for the next feeding," she advises.

Though the word 'schedule' sounds impossible, Dr. Mindell says you can start one in 4-6 weeks after birth.

It helps babies develop an internal clock.

Alyssa hopes it'll set them up for sweet dreams come nighttime.

Dr. Mindell also recommends putting your baby down when he or she is drowsy, but not asleep. She says when babies learn to fall asleep on their own--- not in a rocking chair or in the car--- they actually gain an hour of rest.