We’ve all felt it before. That twinge of sanctimommy coming through in the worst way, and we feel ashamed. Maybe we dare not speak it, but when we’ve been there and done that with the sleepless nights to prove it, we sometimes get riled at the concept of overnight baby care or postpartum shift work. If I did got through it with a newborn and two kids, why can’t they?! Well, here’s the thing. Traditionally, parenting was the job of a whole community. Everyone supported each other with birth support, childcare, meals and whatever else was needed to make the postpartum period work.
Nowadays, with everyone focused on pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, we assume that anyone who dares ask for that extra help is lazy. That they think their newborn is an accessory or an obligation. The truth is, we weren’t meant to do this alone. In fact, we could even go a step further and say that without necessary sleep and support, a family could find themselves not just overwhelmed, but in danger. The reason postpartum doulas do overnight baby care shifts is to provide a solace when things get too tough to handle alone, and that’s okay.
Sleep isn’t just a luxury as we like to suggest, it’s a necessity. Sleep deprivation syndrome is a very real physical condition with devastating effects, ranging from the milder end with temporary hallucinations and extreme fatigue to the horrifying, like organ failure or psychosis. According to new evidence, postpartum depression can be significantly worsened by sleep deprivation.
Most recently, the nation reeled in shock at the tragic suicide of Allie Goldstein, who suffered from postnatal depression, but she is far from the only life lost to the debilitating disorder often brought on by no sleep.
New information also suggests that someone who hasn’t slept in 24 hours has the coordination skills equivalent to a drink driver. Let that sink in. New parents shouldn’t have to put themselves and others at risk just to fulfill overzealous “mom wars.”
But, some say, a baby nurse will kill your breastmilk supply! Their services are a bandaid to the real problem!
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