Brood Letter 15 | Tackling Postpartum Insomnia Together

by Brood

When my kiddo started sleeping through the night, I stopped sleeping. After 6 months of losing sleep due to the usual – night feeds, diaper changes, comfort cuddles – we decided to do some version of sleep training. It was successful, although tortuous for me (I’m not a cry-it-out kinda gal) but finally we were able to see 5-7 hour stretches of sleep for everyone in the house. And that’s when I developed Postpartum Insomnia. I maybe slept 3 hours a night, for MONTHS even when I had the opportunity to sleep. Finding help for sleep disorders is difficult, and when combined with PPD and other mental health challenges, it can feel impossible. If I had to hear another person tell me to “sleep when the baby sleeps”, I might have just disappeared forever. One of those women who just leaves the house to get milk, never to return. I have so much empathy for the women who have. But I didn’t. Instead I reached out to my community, wanting to find answers or clues among the other parents and mothers in my life that might have had an experience similar to mine. I spoke to my doctor and my therapist, and I spoke to a sleep specialist. I spoke to a woman who was going through sleep therapy and said, “you need to stay up until you’re ACTUALLY tired. Don’t go to bed at 9pm because you think you need to catch up” – some of the best advice I would ever receive. 

Health and physical changes all contribute to acute insomnia during the postpartum period. These include things like increased stressors, caregiving for an infant, changes in hormone levels, new or previously diagnosed mental health conditions, like anxiety or depression, aside from mental health conditions like perinatal depression, there may be hormonal causes as well. So, it’s a real mixed bag as you can see, and if you’re struggling with this, or have, know that I’m here with you and you’re not alone.

I wish I had a clear cut answer but my journey to better sleep has been long. My son is now 3.5 years old and I have finally weaned off my anti depression medication, sleeping pills and other coping tools I used to support myself postpartum. IT TOOK THREE YEARS. But, you know what? I’m ok with that. I’m proud of it because there is no pill or easy fix for any mood disorder or sleep issue. It requires changes to lifestyle, mental health, your sleep environment and more. 

If you want to learn more about sleep support in those early days (and after) check out the newest blog post linked below.

Here’s so long, deep, winter sleep. For all.

Gill & The Brood Care Team

 

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We work and live on the unceded and occupied territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. Since time immemorial, the original peoples of these lands have cared for their families and communities. We are committed to honouring their teachings, legacy and their sovereignty.

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