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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
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Post Partum Depression and The Importance of Sleep

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Jul 14th 2009

sleeping infantThe July 2009 issue of Sleep published the results of a study done at the Stavanger University Hospital in Norway. The study was cross sectional and included over 4000 women. The study showed a clear relationship between postpartum depression and lack of sleep among mothers of infants.

Additional factors associated with post partum depression were shown to be, 1. A history of depression, 2. Lack of support and help from partners, 3. Stressful life events, 4. Depression during pregnancy, 5. History of sleep problems, 6. Relationship problems, 7. Having another child,

However, the single most important factor that was found to be connected with post partum depression was the lack of sleep, independent of any of the other factors.

Given the nature of infancy, there is nothing surprising about the findings in this study. Infants are extremely demanding, especially during the first six months of life. Long before it is possible to get them onto a feeding schedule, they alternate between a couple of hours of sleep followed by the demanding and piercing cry for food. This is where the husbands and family members need to rush to the forefront of being supportive and helpful. Even mothers who breast feed can use a breast pump to create a supply of milk so that either husband or family member can do the feeding while mother sleeps.

Whether breast or bottle feeding, moms of newborns need lots of help and support. If there are other children present, all the more help is needed. Granted that fathers have to go to work but that is where other relatives and friends come to the forefront.

I do not remember who is reputed to have made the statement that "It takes a village to raise a child," but, I have always believed in the truth of that statement. We do not, cannot and should not live in isolation. What happens to our babies and our children is the business of every person.

Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.

 

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at dransphd@aol.com for details.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    A new insight to postpartum depression - Richard L.Hansler - Jul 31st 2009

    Tip for new mothers: Wear sunglasses when you get up at night to care for your baby.

    A recent study* found mothers suffering from postpartum depression recovered more quickly when they protected their eyes from light by wearing special sunglasses or used special light bulbs. They wore them when they got up during the night to take care of their babies. It’s known that exposing the eyes to light during the night interrupts the flow of the sleep hormone melatonin. This makes it hard to fall asleep again after caring for the baby. The special sunglasses block the blue wavelengths known to cause melatonin suppression while letting the other colors pass through. Ordinary sunglasses are too dark to wear at night. The special lightbulbs do not produce the blue rays that suppress melatonin. They are recommended for the nursery so the baby also does not have melatonin flow interrupted. Special sunglasses and light bulbs are available at www.lowbluelights.com


    *Med Hypotheses. 2009 Aug;73(2):251-3. Epub 2009 Mar 28.
    Use of modified spectacles and light bulbs to block blue light at night may prevent postpartum depression.     Bennett S, Alpert M, Kubulins V, Hansler RL.

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