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Sleep Deprivation and Infant Safe Sleep

Sleep deprivation is a state in which we are not getting the quality or quantity of sleep needed for our ideal functioning. As new parents, we fall into the category of sleep deprived humans. Many times we feel very tired during the day and can not get into the groove of things.

We may require some extra support in our newborn daze. That is okay. We as humans are wired to ask for help, when we don't ask we go against our biological day one need, help.

Some symptoms of sleep deprivation are:

  • lack of energy

  • worsen memory

  • reduced attention span

  • depression

  • anxiety

  • anger outburst

  • crying for unknown reasons

  • weakened immune system

  • not showering

  • changes to our diet and/or eating habits

We love our children and want to be the best we can be and sleep deprivation can put a road block to our goals.

Some ways mothers are managing sleep deprivation are:

  • taking the night wakening's and then their partner lets them nap in the morning

  • let go of guilt and nap during the day

  • have a mind shift change of accepting that this is a part of this season of parenting

  • hot showers

  • more coffee/less coffee

  • partner is in charge at night

  • stopped using tacking app for sleep

  • removed clocks from the room

  • plan in the day for quiet time after work after a hard night

  • take a walk

  • hydrate

  • cancel plans if needed

  • make a list of urgent things that need to be delt with and let go of the other things

  • partner responds night, following night is theirs and continue taking turns

  • expect less from themselves meaning they show up for their baby and that is it. everything else can wait

  • sunshine

  • nourishing foods

  • delegate house tasks to partner if possible

  • stop aiming for a certain amount/counting how many hours I get

  • ask for help during the day or night

  • bedsharing

Now, the important thing to remember is everyone is different and things might work well for you and not the next and vise versa. Take a moment and make a note in your phone or on paper of things that make you feel refreshed.

With the current recommendation put out by the AAP on safe infant sleep regarding no co-sleeping. They share important information on "the risks of sleep-related infant deaths are up to 67 times higher when sleeping with someone on a couch or soft armchair or cushion; and 10 times higher when sleeping with someone who is impaired because of fatigue or use of sedating medications or substances such as alcohol or illicit drugs; or is a smoker. Risks of sleeping on the same surface with someone else also increase 5-10 times when an infant is under four months of age; is sharing the surface with someone other than a parent; or is a pre-term or low-birthweight, regardless of other factors."

Their stance that that bedsharing should never happen is creating an abstinence point of view. While they do not dismiss that parents may fall asleep their only recommendation is to "move baby back to their own sleep space." There is no guided information on how to sleep well.

This noise can be loud and lead families to miss the important information of the "safe sleep 7", which can reduce rates when properly taught and practiced.

Safe Sleep 7 has easy to follow steps -

  1. No smoking inside or outside the home

  2. Not under the influence of drugs or alcohol

  3. Nursing mother both day and night

  4. Healthy full term baby

  5. Baby is on back

  6. No swaddles

  7. Safe surface

  • no super soft mattress, no extra pillows, no toys, no heavy covers

  • clear of strings and cords

  • pack the cracks with rolled towels or baby blankets

  • cover the baby, not the head

If there is going to be both parents in the bed it is important that they are following the steps as well. It should be thought that both parents are primary caregivers and their actions can effect the family.

It's important to educate families on the options they have. James Mckenna says that mothers sleep better with their infants and have a greater probability of continuing breastfeeding longevity. Breastfeeding is known to reduce SIDS by 55%. Safe bed sharing might also have a protective effect against SIDS. That because babies who bed share experience more frequent arousals from sleep, and those frequent arousals reduce the risk of SIDS. Sleeping together makes night time breastfeeding less disruptive, and mother who bed share and breastfeed get more sleep than mothers who bottle feed. (Mckenna)

I would never recommend every family bedshare considering I do not know their personal choices or their circumstances. The AAP would probably never recommended this either for the same reasons. The current recommendation is to have "the infant close by their bedside in a crib or bassinet will allow parents to feed, comfort, and respond to their infant’s needs."

For family that is having their infant in their own room or crib, know that the guidelines are to keep infant in the same room as you for up to 6 months, ideally a year, no crib bumpers or inclined sleepers and weighted sacks are no longer.

Infants and babies are designed to wake up during the night. It falls on us to respond to them.

Sleep deprivation is hard. As parents things either get better or we get used to it. For any reason if it is getting the best of you, call out for help. There are people who will provide judgement free support!

Do what works for your family. Make an educated decision on you sleep space. If anything does not feel safe or right, consult with your pediatrician.

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