This is why new moms can't sleep even when baby sleeps

new mom cant sleep
Photo by:Marie-Michèle Bouchard

I remember the endless feeding, nappy changes, putting the baby to sleep except the times I peacefully slept after giving birth. Never thought following a simple routine in a day with the baby would leave me exhausted beyond belief. 

Sleep-deprived mommy life is quite challenging and isolating. Moreover, the strangest thing was I could not sleep even when my baby slept. And as a new mother then, I was unaware of horrible postpartum insomnia.


Postpartum sleep issue is a post-birth side effect. When a new mom struggles to sleep no matter how knackered she is, this means she has got sleep deprivation or postpartum insomnia.  Postpartum sleep problems are caused because of drastic changes in lifestyle, habits, hormones, body, etc. 

So, if you are tossing and turning in the bed most of the time whenever you on the bed to grab some sleep, I just want to say “Mama! I know it is quite a rough phase, but it won’t last long.”


Symptoms of postpartum insomnia are:

  1. Difficulty in falling asleep or sleeping without waking up
  2. Concentration problems
  3. Fatigue, mood swings, and irritability
  4. Anxiety and stress
  5. Not feeling well-rested 

You will often feel elated and miserable at the same time. Initial few weeks is often like a mixed bag of feelings that you carry. You are so happy to have created a beautiful life and at the same time, you feel overwhelmed realizing the biggest change. 

When I go back in time, I picturise myself in a milk drenched gown, towel on a shoulder, cooking/ cleaning in a hurry and often walking on tiptoes to eliminate noise which could wake the baby? I hardly remember getting much sleep in those days.


Hearing baby cry used to stir up the feeling of anxiety and panic in me? At times feel guilty for sleeping a bit more when the baby is sleeping. Do you also feel the same often? 

You may also feel anxiety whenever the baby wakes up, cries or needs to be fed. At times you will be scared to sleep and would want to be alert and available for your baby. 

Had I known that it’s normal for newborns to cry even if they are well fed and cozy dry and comfortable, it would have much relief. We mothers often keep worrying about endless things about our little one and also if we are doing a good enough job as a parent.


So, can’t sleep after giving birth? Know why.

New mums often can’t sleep even when the baby sleeps. Postpartum sleep issues are a common problem. And this issue arises mainly after giving birth. 

Either you may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. So, what exactly keeps us awake? It could be anything and everything.

Let’s see down below what are the most common things which keep us moms up when we should rather have a nap:


1. Postpartum anxiety:

You may realize that you are now responsible for taking care of this new human being who wants nutrition, protection, and love from you. And then you start perfecting the skills day after day. 

Thoughts like what if the baby gets up and cries, maybe the time for the next feeding is near, finishing the home chores on time could just keep you from napping or disrupt your sleep.


2. Postpartum pains and discomfort:

You may be recovering from surgery or stitches or be bothered by lochia, constipation, cramps in the abdomen, backache, swelling, and bloating. 

Sometimes you may pee your pants accidentally while sneezing or laughing as you lose bladder control after giving birth which could land you in embarrassing situations.

3. Baby blues and depression:

Perinatal depression or baby blues can also be a major obstacle to sleep. When you feel weepy, moody, low, irritated within few weeks of childbirth, this means you have baby blues. 

But this won’t last long and not at all an illness. 

Depression is a condition in which you feel low, unhappy, tired, frustrate all the time and this goes on for a longer period. 

Anxiety or depression lingers for a long and there are treatments for them.


4. Hormonal shift:

Hormone fluctuations are one of the common problems after childbirth. 

In pregnancy, our body produces a great amount of estrogen and progesterone hormones whereas these hormones decline drastically after childbirth.

This fluctuation can contribute to feeling week and also cause insomnia.


5. Changes in lifestyle:

For a few, lifestyle changes slightly when they decide to have a baby and conceive but it changes drastically when the baby arrives. 

The daily activities of yours like bathing, cooking or maybe catching up with Netflix shows would seem luxurious. 

Now, this is the time for you to adjust to the new parenthood which is demanding, tiring, and keep you on your toes every time that you don’t have time for relaxing.


6. Health problems: 

Many medical conditions and diseases/illnesses also contribute to sleep deprivation. 

For example: if a mother has asthma (breathing disease) or fighting cancer or any other severe illness may find it difficult to get sleep most of the time. 

Moreover, the medication or prescribed drugs can interfere with sleep.


How to deal with postpartum sleep deprivation?

Postpartum sleep deprivation can be a serious matter and can be dealt with if you really want to help yourself and try to relax and get a few power-naps whenever possible. 

You can’t control the pre-dawn wake-ups and dream feedings, can you? You need to get up when baby wakes at night also breastfeed them which you can’t help but you can try doing few things which you can control.

Here are a few things you can follow which will help you to get some hours of shut-eye or help you to cope with sleep deprivation:


 1.  Sleep when your baby sleeps: 

This is the best advice and works for all new parents. 

No doubt that often you will feel tempted to use the time to finish your leftover home chores when your little one sleeps, but it is more important for you to sleep especially in the initial weeks. 

Home chores can wait. Your health is more important. 

Grab as much sleep as you can and make full use of that time by giving rest to your body when your baby is sleeping beside you.


  2. Early bedtime:

Try to go to bed early for some week in the beginning so that you have more time to stay in the bed and relax. 

Many of us like to scroll their mobile screen and read endless topics regarding caring for the baby and hence while on the bed most of the time couldn’t catch much sleep. 

Try to stay away from gadgets while taking a rest or relaxing.


  3. Ask for help & support:

   Ask your friends and relatives to come at times to look after your baby so that you get some baby-free time and relaxation which is important to get back sanity and to feel refreshed. 

    Don’t feel ashamed or hesitate to ask for help and support from your family and friends.


  4. Don’t get burdened with too many responsibilities:

    It is O.K to admit that you won’t be able to handle everything on your own with the baby. It's easier to ask for help than messing up later. 

  You can share some work with your partner when he gets back home. If you are breastfeeding throughout the day, pump some milk out, and put it in a bottle for your partner to feed the baby while you catch some sleep.


   5. Reduce your stress level:

Don’t let the stress get to you. This postpartum phase is tough, but you are the one who can make the journey easy for yourself, your partner, and your baby. 

Make time to release your stress, it depends on you how you do it. Having said that, don’t go and punch the wall or beat your partner to release stress. 

You can go for short walks, meditate or do yoga which can help get refreshed.


   6. Avoid caffeine, alcohol & smoking:

You may feel tempted to have caffeine to keep yourself going and alert in a day but at times we don’t realize that this may cause insomnia. 

Consuming too much caffeine can also lead to anxiety, frequent wake-ups at night, and overall poor quality of sleep. 

Likewise, if you consume alcohol in excess, you will fall asleep quickly but it reduces the duration and quality of sleep or sleeps satisfaction. 

Nicotine is a stimulant therefore people who smoke fall asleep after long and get disrupted sleep.


So how long does postpartum insomnia last?

Postpartum sleep deprivation or insomnia is unavoidable at least for the first few days and this is a part and parcel of becoming a parent. 

Changing hormones carried on fatigue from labour and childbirth, and 24*7 caring for baby will no doubt affect you and make you feel completely worn out. 

This sleep deprivation will not last long and may take a few days and weeks to recover. But for a few, it takes months too. 

I started getting sound sleep at night after my child turned 6 months. I won’t say she slept through the night but she used to sleep most of the night and wake only once or twice.

You also may get your sleep back once your baby sleeps through the night or when wakes up less than before which usually start by the time your child turns 6 months and older. 

Every child is different and you can’t compare the sleeping habits of your little one with others. But let me assure you things will get better after some time and you will again sleep like a baby.

Must read:

Is your Postnatal Care and Recovery Kit ready?



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