We all know that newborn babies can be awfully sporadic in their sleeping habits. Babies, like everyone else, go through periods of light sleep and deep sleep. Unlike adults, however, babies typically cycle through light and deep sleep every 50 minutes or so, creating the potential for your baby to wake up many times during the course of the night.
Some babies are better able to soothe themselves back to sleep than others. While there may be many factors involved in this, most of which are completely out of our control as parents, recent evidence suggests one common factor in baby sleep problems which we may be able to do something about.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have recently demonstrated a connection between erratic sleep behaviors in babies and depression in the baby’s mother. They theorize that the baby can sense the anxiety the mother is going through, and this adds to the baby’s sense of anxiety, which makes it harder for them to soothe themselves to sleep.
Of course, this leads to a rather vicious cycle, as the new mother finds herself not only depressed, but also needing to care for a cranky baby who can’t seem to stay asleep for any significant period of time. Needless to say, sleep deprivation does not exactly help feelings of depression.
Do yourself and your baby a big favor. If you think you may be experiencing depression, whether it is caused by post partum or anything else, seek professional help. Start by talking with your doctor, who may either recommend counseling or medication. Both have been known to help, and your doctor is the best person to recommend which course you should take. In any case, it is better to receive treatment for your depression than to let it go untreated.
Dealing with negative feelings and depression does not make you a bad parent, or a bad person. Postpartum depression is very normal, and many women just like you go through it. Making sure that you get the proper treatment to take care of yourself is best for you and your baby.