10 Things That Helped Me Sleep With Postpartum Depression

10 things that helped me sleep with postpartum depression

Sleep seems impossible with a young child. Your child likely isn’t sleeping through the night yet (which means you likely aren’t either!) and naps can be often unpredictable. But regardless if your child is 2 months old or more than a year old, sleep can be elusive overall – and double hard if you are struggling with postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety. Finding ways to support your sleep is crucial for your mental health. Here are 10 things that helped me sleep with postpartum depression.

On a personal note, none of these are paid endorsements – just a few things that helped me, as a first-time mom struggling to sleep due to overwhelming anxiety, depression and a fussy baby. I have included links for you to learn additional information, where relevant.

Why Is Getting Quality Sleep Crucial for Moms With Postpartum Depression?

Sleep is one of the most important things a mom struggling with postpartum depression and/or anxiety can do to support her healing. Why? Sleep can treat mild postpartum depression and can even prevent it from happening in the first place. Learn more about sleep benefits in our blog, “You Need More Sleep to Support Postpartum Depression.”

Support for My Sleep Environment

When given the opportunity to sleep (which is rare as a new mom), you need an environment set up to best support your sleep. This could include nighttime sleep or daytime naps. A few things that helped me:

  1. Bath Salts – You are either an “I love baths” or “I hate baths” type of person, and for me, they are mentally therapeutic. After my doctor cleared me to take baths again after birth, I was beyond ready to soak away my stress. A 20-minute hot bath filled with magnesium and lavender bath salts helped me feel relaxed and ready to sleep. Amazon.
  2. Sound Machine – We were using the Yogasleep Hush portable sound machine to help our child sleep BUT it wasn’t until I bought one for myself that it changed my sleeping game. When my husband was on baby duty and I had the chance to sleep, I was still constantly awoken by the sound of my child crying, even when I knew he was watching her and she was okay. My mom instincts wouldn’t let me sleep through it, and because I was trying to make myself sleep, instead of help her, my anxiety would instantly go through the roof. Then I put this sound machine on the bedside table near my head – and for the first time, I could sleep without hearing her cry. I still use it when I need to, two years later. Get one for yourself (when you have someone else on duty because you won’t hear your baby cry), ASAP. Amazon.

Help to Calm My Mind

Once I was actually lying in bed, and in my supportive sleep environment, it was still often hard to turn the anxiety and depression down enough to actually fall asleep. The thoughts that raced constantly in my mind wouldn’t stop easily, so I found four things that helped turn down the volume so sleep could settle in.

  1. Nothing Much Happens Podcast – A friend recommended this podcast to me, and I was skeptical at first. How could just listening to a bedtime story actually put me to sleep? Well, I’m glad you asked because the host, Kathryn Nicolai, has figured out how to give your busy mind the place it needs to rest. All you have to do is listen. I was shocked how well it worked for me and the more I listened at night, the quicker it worked. You can listen for free on Apple or anywhere you get your podcasts.
  2. Meditation Videos – Meditation has been proven in countless studies to reduce depression and recent evidence even suggests that mindfulness meditation can improve sleep quality in sleep disturbed populations. I studied mindfulness meditation through Duke University’s Health & Well-being programs before having a child and fell in love with the calming effect meditation had on my mind. For sleep support, I listened regularly to free YouTube sleep meditations (The Mindful Movement here and the Hypnobirthing with Anja here), which I personally found more beneficial than any of the paid meditation apps on the market.
  3. Medication – My postpartum depression and anxiety was to the level that I wanted medication to help regulate my moods and make the lows, less low. Medication didn’t cure my postpartum depression or anxiety, but it made it slightly more manageable. If you think you need medication, talk to your healthcare provider right away. Find a doctor you trust to talk about your symptoms and concerns.
  4. Therapy – Group support and traditional therapy can help you during postpartum depression and anxiety, but it actually was much harder than I imagined to find a therapist who I personally connected with, was taking new clients and could see me virtually (I had no interest in adding the extra stress of finding childcare to go into a therapist office). Luckily, by searching Psychology Today, I found a great therapist who was specialized in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. If you are looking for group support, which also adds an extra benefit of social support from other moms, check out our Thrive membership.

Increase My Child’s Sleep

The more I could get my child to sleep, the more sleep both my partner and I also got. There are numerous opinions on what is the right way to support a child’s sleep or how to sleep train (or not to sleep train). I am not giving any of that advice, as what works for one child may not for another. What worked for my child, in my situation, are simply the three things below, which I’m sharing in case they can help you:

  1. The Baby Susher – Y’all. This thing is amazing. My husband and I made fun of it when we first saw it (our photographer had it at a newborn photoshoot) and it worked WONDERS. We bought it off Amazon from our phones before we left the picture session and it stayed by our child’s side for 6 solid months. You can laugh; we did. But it was the best thing we ever purchased. Amazon.
  2. Taking Cara Babies – I was desperate for help to get my newborn to sleep better. She had early health issues that added to our sleep challenges, but I felt completely unprepared and unless as a mother when she didn’t sleep. While pregnant, I had prepared, read all the baby books, you name it – but in the midst of infancy, coupled with postpartum depression – I felt very inadequate and alone. Who saved me and taught me about wake windows, numerous ways to soothe and swaddle, was Cara from Taking Cara Babies. I took her class, listened to it on my phone while rocking a baby and learned enough to help me feel better and sleep more. Website.
  3. SwaddleMe Swaddle – Our child, like most infants, slept better wrapped securely in a swaddle, but finding one that worked all night long was an expensive game of trial and error. We tried every swaddle on the market, and I am not exaggerating. We had at least 15 different styles and brands during the first few months, but what worked for our child was the SwaddleMe Swaddle. This gave us more sleep, as she slept better. Amazon.

And Finally…Get More Help.

  1. Asking for Help – This one is on here last because it personally took me longer to try than anything else. Asking for help from others is hard for me and a skill that my postpartum depression and anxiety has forced me to improve. I love getting to help others; it truly makes me happy. But the vulnerability of asking someone to do something for me, like watch my child so I can sleep, was just too raw. Until I was so desperate for sleep that I had no choice. Take my advice and please, be more vocal than I was.

Mom, you have to get as much sleep as you can to support your healing if you are suffering from postpartum depression and/or anxiety. The things that help you may be very different than what helped me – but I wanted to share in case any of these could help you or spark ideas for new ways to support your sleep.

Remember, this will get better and you will feel like you again. Until then, Thrive is here to support you any way we can.

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